WMF Permanent Match Table Lighter, ca. 1920s

A fine example of a semi-automatic table lighter from the early 1920s (or late 1910s) linking the era of permanent matches and automatic lighters. This lighter was made by Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik AG (WMF) a German tableware manufacturer, founded in 1853 in Geislingen an der Steige, Germany, by the miller Daniel Straub and the brothers Schweizer.

WMF acquired the Polish metal-ware factory Plewkiewicz in Warsaw in 1886, which then became a subsidiary of WMF around 1900. It is very possible that this lighter was actually manufactured there.

This WMF lighter is combined with an ash-tray. The lighter is made of brass and silver plated and than artificially tarnished (oxidized) in the decorative surface areas. The fuel-filled metal tank is in the form of a matchbox which makes this permanent match even more interesting.

How it works? On the enclosed top which prevented the volatile liquid from evaporating, and to conveniently extinguish the flame a separate metal rod serving as wick is present. The rod is removed but not as in most permanent matches scratched against a flint on the side of the case to create a spark. The internal wick catches fire owing to the flint mechanism installed in the bottom section of the lighter where the sparks are engraved. To generate spark one must just turn the knob. The flame is extinguished by placing the rod into the shell, where it absorbs fuel for the next use.

Marked on the bottom:
Type: permanent match

Scarcity: very rare

Value for very good–mint condition (silver or gold plated): $250.00–450.00 (approx €200.00–380.00)

Weight: 260 grams (0.58 lbs)

  • height: 14.0 cm (5.5")
  • diameter: 11.9 cm (4.7")


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