Collecting old magazine ads on lighters

Being a lighter collector you may experience a natural hunger for expanding your collection into related areas. Armed with an appreciation of design, mass media and a need for displaying your collection you may come across with another very collectible field: vintage magazine ads. This area of collecting is expanding rapidly as the ads can be also used as an interesting way to decorate homes or businesses. Vintage nostalgia does the trick!

Most of the best colorful full-page ads do come from these popular magazines:  
  • Life (1936), 
  • The Saturday Evening Post (1821),
  • Esquire (1932),
  • Time (1923),
  • Ebony (1945),
  • Punch, or the London Charivari (1841),
  • Collier's Weekly (1888),
  • Better Homes and Gardens (1922),
  • Look (1937–1971),
  • Plaisir de France (1934–1974),
  • L'Illustration (1843–1944).
If you have some old issues of the above mentioned magazines it worth a try to have a look into them. If you do not have them the best and simplest way to get your favorite lighters ads is eBay. The best search term is the word "ad" ("advert" in UK) along with other more specific search term like "Ronson", "lighter", "Dunhill" etc. The cost of one ad in most cases is between 5–10 USD. When you live in the United States it is also worth to visit garage sales and libraries as they start to digitize their resources and withdraw magazines – when you are lucky enough you may get a bargain.

If your ad was not very rare you might wish to have it framed. If you have doubts about putting the original ad into the frame (because of fading etc.) you should think about making a 1:1 copy which should cost you additional 2–3 USD. When framing please remember about passe-partout (2–3 inches; 5–7 cm wide) – the ad looks much better with it and you might hide the ads imperfections as well. You may also try frameless glass frames.

What is the best way to storage (archive) old magazine adverts? How to care on vintage ads? This question often appears as paper turns yellow and deteriorates over time. Exposure to light and heat break the molecules in the acidic paper even faster. To make the unwanted process as slow a possible just follow these three steps:
  1. Put every ad into an individual transparent polypropylene (PP) sleeve protector  or clear smudge proof pockets (A3 format is commonly available) and place a black backer board behind it. This is a good idea if you sometimes want to look at your ads and show them to your friends without the risk that they get stained, teared or bended. Most old ads are printed on a thin paper which also shows through some text and graphics from the other site – black backer board should help present them without this flaw. Do not use PVC sleeve protectors as they are not acid free and can harm your ads in long-term.
  2. Place your protected magazines ads into a photo archive storage box. These boxes are made with acid-free material and will help prevent deterioration of your magazine ads. 
  3. The box with your ads should be stored in room temperature in a dry, dark place. Voilà!
Below a sample of 60 different Ronson ads.

Great ads were also made by ASR, Zippo (biggest advertiser), Dunhill, Evans, Scripto, Ritepoint, Berkeley, Flaminaire Quercia, Torence, Silver Match, Lancel (France), Mylflam and Rowenta (Germany) in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.  In the later years nice ads were published  among others by Colibri (UK) Cartier, S.T. Dupont (France) and Braun (Germany).


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