For more than half a century, Zippo lighters have been the lighters of choice for serious smokers, outdoorsmen and anyone else who might need to set something on fire in harsh conditions on a regular basis. While butane lighters are now preferred by some, Zippo still managed to celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2007 by selling the world’s most expensive Zippo lighter.
The Zippo Manufacturing Company was founded in 1932 and their first lighters were sold in early 1933. Zippo lighters are notable for combining the flint-wheel ignition typical of modern disposable lighters with a naphtha-soaked wick. This construction makes the lighters particularly wind resistant and more reliable in cold weather than butane lighters.
Around 25,000 lighters were produced throughout 1933. While the earliest Zippos were plain, the company began experimenting with embellishments as early as that first year. That tradition continues to this day, and thousands of different designs have graced the metal Zippo exterior over the past 75+ years.
During their 75th anniversary, Zippo sold one of the original 1933 Zippos for an extraordinary $37,000. Other high-priced Zippos include another 1933 Zippo lighter with diagonal lines on the lid, auctioned for $18,000 on eBay and an 18k gold Zippo lighter complete with a custom cherry gift box, available from Zippo for $8,675.95.