Carrier, Luminus electrical lighter, Paris 1900

The "Luminus" electrical lighter (fr. Allumoir électrique) was invented, patented and manufactured by BERNARD-ALEXANDRE CARRIER in 1900 in Paris (rue Fenelon 7), France. It based on the invention of a fluid cell battery by Grenet

It was advertised in the French press as "essential device for you. Instant light by pressing a button" (fr. Appareil indispendable chez soi. Lumiere instantanee en pressant un bouton)". It was the best known bichromate electric lighter and the "Luminus" name is now in use for other lighters that type as well.

The Luminus lighter operated on a liquid battery (bichromate potassium) and carbon electrodes that were situated in the bigger glass bottle. By pressing the button a zinc plate submerges into the fluid and current is flowing into the platinum filament which is glowing. It lights up the pilot wick which lights the main wick for longer use without need to keep the button pressed and stressing the battery. Both wicks were emersed in petrol in the small bottle. According to Carrier 600 ignitions were possible till a next refill of bichromate potassium.

The first model of the Luminus lighter won the gold medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris and was replaced in 1904 by the second model which introduced a second cap and was produced until 1914 (vide patent drawings no. FR3883).

The glass bottles of the Luminus were made mainly in cobalt blue, less common are light blue, green, yellow or orange glass. The lighter is unmarked. The LUMINUS lighter is exposed among others at the: Deutsches Heildelberg Museum-Castle and Museum Bryant & May to London-Museum of Arts&Crafts in Paris.

Type: electrical petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon-rare

Value for very good condition: 300 USD (approx. 250€)

Weight: ca. 600 grams

  • height: 22.5 cm
  • width: 10 cm

Advert: Ronson Wedgwood Table Lighter, 1950

This Ronson magazine advertisement was published in a British magazine "Country Life" in December 1950. It presents Ronson wick lighters like "Queen Anne", "Rondelight", "Princess", "Adonis" and others.

Ronson Rondelight Cricket Ball Lighter, UK 1950

The new 'Rondelight' was made in the 1950s in the United Kingdom. This table lighter is in the shape of a cricket ball covered in genuine leather.

The lighter insert was also used in Wedgwood ceramics and other ball-shaped bases like: plain chromium plate, covered with brown leather or chrome and enamel in six color combinations (lower part/stripe): black/red, black/black, black/blue, black/green, lavender/white and white/gray etc.

The chrome plate lighter fitment 'New Standard' Ronson is removable and it is marked on the bottom:

BRIT. PAT. 621570
Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for very good condition: $100 (approx. €80)

Weight: 230 grams

  • height: 7 cm (2.76")
  • diameter: 5.5 cm (2.17")

Gebrüder Köllisch, Druco Lighter, 1948

The Druco table lighter was first manufactured in 1948 in Nürnberg, Germany by Gebrüder Köllisch. The body of this petrol lighter is made of brass. This semi-automatic lighter has a nice sun ray design etched in the black paint. Other designs are known.

The lighter is not marked. The bottom part of it can be used as an additional tank for petrol.

Type: semi-automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon-rare

Value for very good condition: ~$60.00 (approx €50.00)

Weight: 165 grams

  • height: 7.6 cm
  • length: 7.7 cm
  • width: 3.6 cm

Ronson Savoy Gold Table Lighter, 1953-1954

The Ronson Savoy wick table lighter was made between 1953-1954 in Newark, New Jersey, USA by Ronson. It is a lighter with a very appealing design in heavy 24K gold plate. It was the most expensive table lighter mass-produced by Ronson ($19.50) at that time.  

The lighter mechanism was used since 1936 when the Ronson Decanter and Puritan were first introduced. Below an illustration of the lighter models 'Decanter' and 'Savoy' from the 1954 Ronson catalog.

The lighter base is padded with a light green felt trim and marked:

Ronson (R)
Newark, N.J. U.S.A.
U.S. Patent 2,481,195

Type: automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $240.00–350.00 (approx €200.00–300.00)

Weight: 331 grams


    height: 11.5 cm
    diameter: 5.6 cm

Pocket match holders / vesta cases converted into lighters, XIX/XX century

Pocket match holders, also called 'vesta cases' or 'matchsafes', were holding a number of friction matches and were introduced in the 1840s. They were made from precious (metals like silver, gold) to common (brass, copper, German silver, wood, celluloid etc.) materials. The most popular material was solid silver, and silver-plated brass. The phosphorus head of the match could be easily ignited when rubbed against roughened serrations.

Vesta cases are a wonderful area for collectors - the variety of decorations, styles and quality is stunning. The most sought after are figural novelty vestas and those finely painted by hand. The heyday of pocket-sized matchboxes was between 1870 and 1920 - hundred of thousands were made by silversmiths and workshops around the world.

After 1907 matches as well match holders were slowly displaced by lighters. The invention of ferrocerium (lighter flint) began a new era of lighters that were very cheap in production. A new designation for vesta cases was found - small family owned metal workshops began to convert vesta cases into petrol lighters. Such case was ideal for such operation as vesta cases were designed to keep friction matches safe and dry (tight fit). Such converted lighters are quite difficult to find nowadays but nice to have in once tobacciana collection.

One of the best books on matchboxes is the 'Matchsafes' edited by Deborah S. Shinn. It has a great selection of vesta cases, wonderful photos and a lot of interesting info.

Ronson Wedgwood Celadon Table Lighter, 1954

This wick table lighter was made in ca. 1955 in England by Ronson and Ofeturia & Barlaston Wedgwood.  The ceramic base is in a oyster shape and is finished in a classic celadon (willow-green color) glaze. 

The Ronson lighter insert is round in shape, made of brass and chrome-plated and marked on the bottom:  
Ronson Trademark 
Made in England

The lighter base is padded with felt and marked:

Ofeturia & Barlaston
Wedgwood Celadon
Made in England

Type: automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for good–mint condition: $40.00–60.00 (approx €30.00–50.00)

Weight: 125 grams


    height: 7.4 cm
    length: 7.5 cm

Barnett Pearlman Polo Automatic Lighter, 1948

The Polo Automatic Lighter was made by Barnett Pearlman & Co. Ltd in London, England between ca. 1948-1952. The base is made of brass and heavy chrome-plated. The bakelite pedestal gives the column shaped table lighter additional stability.

The lighter was available in two different heights: 9 and 13 cm. The automatic lighter mechanism was invented by Ernest Shinwell and patented by Barnett Pearlman & Co. in 1948 (patent no. 642,908).

The wick lighter is marked on the underside of the base:

Made in England World Patents
REGD. DES. NO. 857204

Type: automatic petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for very good–mint condition: $50 (approx €30)

Weight: 285 (tall), 235 grams

  • diameter: 6.7 cm 
  • height: 13 cm (tall), 9 cm (short)