Identifying Vintage Lighters by Type: Value and Price

The 19th and 20th centuries saw widespread pleasure in tobacco usage, and at that time, innovators kept coming up with new methods to light cigarettes.

If you locate one, antique lighters can be an exciting find and an intriguing piece of history.

As a result of the dominant use of cigarette lighters then, numerous patents flooded the place over a short period since they also served other household purposes as typical as light candles,

But how can you make sure you are paying the right price for an antique lighter, though, is the crucial question.

So if you are interested in adding an antique lighter to your collection, this comprehensive guide will examine the price ranges and how to identify several kinds of antique lighters.

lighter
Collection of Nine Vintage Lighters (Image Credits: 1stDibs )

Brief History of Lighters

The development of self-igniting friction matches received more attention in the 19th century. In addition, the creation of lighters received additional attention.

People had to rely on tinderboxes and later Vesta cases before the invention of pocket lighters. Then, a thick cotton wick dipped in paraffin wax served to make vestas.

They had phosphorous heads that would light on contact with a roughened serrated edge.

Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner, a German chemist and professor at the University of Jena, created one of the first lighters in 1823. It didn’t resemble a lighter today, though.

Most lighters were powered by a petroleum mixture called Naptha until World War II; compressed butane took its place after the war.

The lighter did not also use butane fuel as fuel inside; instead, it used hydrogen.

The Döbereiner’s lamp also called a “tinderbox” or “Feuerzeug,” was a very well-liked product that purportedly sold over a million units in the 1820s.

Even though they were undoubtedly inventive, these lighters were sadly unstable and dangerous due to the level of heat associated, and it didn’t take long for people to start looking for a better alternative.

Manufacturers started experimenting with making various lighters, from handheld lighters to pocket-sized and even disposable lighters to those with striking methods.

They always focused on how they could create something relatively safe than anything previously made. This began to ignite the ideas of other innovators.

The substance presently known as flint, ferrocerium, was patented in 1903 by Baron Carl von Welsbach.

People had more control over their flame thanks to these semi-automated and eventually automated lighters, making smaller and smaller lighters possible.

In the 1930s, some businesses produced lighters that integrated numerous accessories, like cigarette boxes and compacts, and added rhinestones or colorful enameled motifs to appeal to female clients.

However, some most sought-after models on the market today are considered to be handheld lighters from the 1920s and 1930s.

How Does a Lighter Work?

Typically, a thumb to the wheel is used to bring the flint into contact with metal and spark the metal. The spark subsequently ignites the combustible gas, causing it to produce flames.

Until the valve is opened or until the top is closed, the fire will keep burning.

Durable and sturdy Versions combine the fuel and air, then send the resulting gas and air combination through a catalytic coil to create a flame.

For ignition to take place, there must be a spark; a spark emanates by hitting metal against the flint. In certain instances, the ignition comes by pressing a button that contracts a piezoelectric crystal, creating an electric arc.

Types of Antique Lighters

Judging by the pariah state of cigar smoking today, one may find it hard to believe there was a time when tobacco was not just de rigueuer but the fashion of the day. When smoking was so fashionable, it came with various beautiful accessories.

While there are different types of lighter today, like the torch lighter, cigar lighter, and even the types that use electricity, there were four primary types of lighters in the early years.

Learn a few things about each type now:

Semi-Automatic Lighter

RARE 1920'S SWISS THORENS TELEFLAM SEMI AUTOMATIC PIPE LIGHTER UK POSTAGE ONLY
RARE 1920’S SWISS THORENS TELEFLAM SEMI AUTOMATIC PIPE LIGHTER UK POSTAGE ONLY (Sold $799.97)

The first kind of automated lighter was semi-automatic. First, a valve had to open for the gas to flow; after that, a button had to be depressed for the spark to ignite the gas and reveal a flame.

In 1928, the Colibri company made the first semi-automated lighter. These are still widely used today and frequently used for a cigar lighter.

Automatic Lighter

Vintage Ronson Art Metal Works BANJO Pocket Lighter - 1st One Motion Lighter
Vintage Ronson Art Metal Works BANJO Pocket Lighter – 1st One Motion Lighter (Sold $127.50)

The Automated followed after the Semi-Automated. It was simpler because a valve opened immediately after releasing the push button.

Ronson invented the first automated lighter; the name was the Banjo lighter. It has a handle that you must press down for it to function. As soon as you let go, the spark would go out.

Striker Lighter

This particular vintage tobacco lighter required manual operation. The earliest models had a strip of ferrocerium, often known as flint, producing a spark when struck.

Then it had a wick attached to a steel wand immersed in liquid. It created sparks by striking the steel wand against the strip to light the lighter.

Later, a flint wheel operated by the thumb that fired many sparks in a specific direction replaced it.

Manual Striker

The Manual Striker mimicked the Striker in design and used ferrocerium, but it required pulling a handle for the wheel to spin and ignite the fuel.

Notable Manufacturers of Antique Lighters

As time passed, a select few businesses that produced lighters in the early 20th century climbed to the top and remain prominent today.

Ronson, Dunhill, and the Zippos are three of the most well-known vintage brands today. Others are Dupont, Tiffany, Evans, etc. Antique lighter collectors often go after these Manufacturers.

Below, we dive deeper into the brands mentioned above.

Ronson Lighters

Ronson Lighters
RARE ANTIQUE Working Ronson ALL METAL WORKS TWENTYCASE Cigarette Case Lighter Image Credits: eBay

Louis V. Aronson established Ronson Art Metal Works, later known as Ronson Company, in 1886. The Wonderliter, the company’s first lighter, was a major commercial success when it was released in 1913.

Ronson’s Banjo lighter, introduced in 1926 and had a distinctive shape, was another well-liked design. It was an automatic lighter that could be lit and extinguished with a button’s easy push and release.

However, with the introduction of the recently found ignition technology, Ronson expanded into the field of designer lighters. Silver antique or vintage items are available for Ronson collectors to add to their collections.

The Comet and Varaflame lighter versions are trendy among collectors and can fetch some huge prices.

We discovered several vendors selling Ronson antique lighters. The pricing of these antique lighters ranged from $25 to $35.

Zippo Lighters

Zippo Lighters
Image Credits: eBay

In Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1932, George G. Blaisdell, a well-known industrialist, founded the Zippo Manufacturing Company after he refurbished an Austrian lighter that a friend had and altered its design to make it more wind-resistant and have a longer-lasting flame.

In 1934, he submitted his initial patent application for the Zippo lighters to the US Patent Office.

Due to the company’s decision to stop domestic production and support the war effort, World War II significantly impacted its sales. As a result, Zippo lighters became the weapon of choice for these young.

The lighters manufactured by this company were frequently linked to Hollywood and show business, which is an amusing historical tidbit.

The Zippo lighter was one of the most well-liked cigarette lighter props in theater and film, appearing in over a thousand films! They also served as VIP presents to cast and staff as a keepsake following a production.

An online search on antique Zippo lighters led us to the conclusion that prices greatly vary on the styles and the vendor. Although on the official site of the Zippo Manufacturing Company, the least costly items cost $34.95, and the most expensive ones cost $135, the antique lighters are far more affordable.

A cheaper antique lighter from Zippo costs $44 on various internet sites, while the most expensive one costs $925. They also come in different types like silver and so on.

The less expensive antique lighters were made more recently or had a simple design. Zippo offers more expensive antique lighters with unique designs and those that date back a long time.

Dunhill Lighters

Dunhill Lighters
DUNHILL SILVER ANTIQUE DESK LIGHTER COMPLETE OVERHAUL & STORED SIZE: 35X43X75MM Image Credits: eBay

When Alfred Dunhill took over his father’s saddlery business, his company was officially founded in 1893. Due to the increasing popularity of automobiles, his business expanded into the realm of automotive accessories.

It didn’t take long for Dunhill to find popularity; over time, he expanded further by selling other goods like lighters. As a result, the artistry of vintage Dunhill lighters is renowned and esteemed today.

You are enchanted by these lighters when you see and use them. They are stunning works of art that, even now, provide a timeless complement to any antique collection. They are original works of art with lovely depth and intricacy.

They bridge the gap between a utilitarian luxury item and an oddity and individuality that makes each unique.

The result is a robust collecting market driven by passionate collectors and dealers striving to have the best collections. Add to that a restricted supply, and voilà.

The price of these antique lighters varies greatly, with the majority of costs based on the design and materials employed.

Online, the prices of these antique items range from $100 to $864. Prices vary according to the vendor, the antique lighter’s condition, and how rare the item is.

Dupont Lighter

Dupont Lighter
ST DUPONT – Antique Petrol Lighter – Made In France – Overhauled – AM07 Image Credits: eBay

S.T. Dupont produced its first antique lighter in 1941. The first lighters were built of aluminum because brass was only permitted for use during wartime. However, S.T. Dupont lighters were made of 18k pure gold combined with 3% brass between 1958 and 1963.

Leading producer of high-end lighters, S.T. Dupont has consistently charged more for its products. We checked the price of Antique lighters made by S.T. Dupont online.

You can find cheaper vintage S.T. Dupont lighter online at $69. Nevertheless, the cost can rise gradually, with the most expensive luxury lighter costing around $1500, depending on its style and the quantity of gold, silver, and brass used in its construction.

Colibri Antique Lighters

Colibri Antique Lighters
antique england gasoline colibrí monopol patent lighter luxury full golden Image Credits: eBay

Colibri, established in 1928, became well-known for producing cigarette or cigar lighters. The first functional semi-automated lighter is credited to the firm.

Colibri unveiled the automated Monopol lighter with an acceleration mechanism in 1935. Next, the firm produced the Stormgard lighter, intended for use by soldiers in the Second World War between 1940 and 1945.

The business has carried on revolutionizing the lightweight market over time. For instance, the business produced a lighter with a hydraulic auto-flint system and a visible multiple gas refill in 1958.

The value of a Colibri vintage lighter ranges from $75 to $113 in online marketplaces.

Evan Antique Lighters

Evan Antique Lighters
VINTAGE ANTIQUE COLLECTIBLE SILVER EVANS CIGARETTE LIGHTER & ORIGINAL BOX Image Credits: eBay

Most of Evans Case Company’s operations took place between 1922 and 1960. In 1928, the firm released its first vintage lighter.

The majority of original Evans antique lighters are difficult to find today. Antique lighters from Evans Case Company can be pricey but have a beautiful appearance.

The value of a Colibri vintage lighter ranges from $49.99 to $113 in online marketplaces.

Scripto Antique Lighters

Scripto Antique Lighters
ANTIQUE Working SCRIPTO & COLIBRI INSERT Table Lighter Wood, MODERN 4608/22 Image Credits: eBay

Scripto, established in 1923, was once the largest manufacturer of writing equipment and now produces butane lighters. The manufacturer began selling refillable lighters in 1955, which is where the antique lighters date from.

The Vu-Lighter was the first model produced by the Scripto brand. The cost of the company’s Vu-Lighter ranges from $25 to $67. The price of better-condition lighters ranges from $40 to $77; however, there are more expensive ones.

Tiffany Antique Lighters

Tiffany Antique Lighters
MAGNIFICENT ANTIQUE TIFFANY & Co STERLING SILVER CIGAR LIGHTER / LAMP Pompeian Image Credits: eBay

Charles Lewis Tiffany established Tiffany & Co. in 1837, and its fame skyrocketed at the start of the 20th century. However, since they are made by a jeweler, Tiffany & Co. lighters have always cost more.

The most affordable Tiffany & Co. vintage lighter we could find online cost $85; however, the cost of the antique lighters increased and eventually exceeded $900.

This implies that the price range for a Tiffany & Co. vintage lighter is between $100 and $1,500.

Rowenta Lighter

Rowenta Lighter
Vintage “ROWENTA ” Swing Lid Pocket Petrol ⛽️ Wick Lighter-Germany ’60s Image Credits: eBay

Since its founding in 1909, Rowenta has remained a top producer of household goods. But 1947 saw the business build its first lighter since the end of WWII. The semi-automatic gasoline lighter has a double-lock lid and a swig arm.

Later, the business created gasoline-free butane lighter. So you should anticipate paying more for a petrol Rowenta lighter when buying one than a gas one.

Rowenta offers gasoline lighters for as little as $10 and petrol fuel lighters for as much as $105.

Strato-flame Antique lighter

Strato-flame Antique lighter
Old Vtg STRATO FLAME Collectable Chrome Cigarette Lighter “Love Bunky” Image Credits: eBay

Between 1930 and 1950, Strato-Flame produced lighters and was a pioneer in the creation of butane lighters. The butane tank is detachable, and the company’s lighters include a vertical strike wheel.

Surprisingly, vintage Strato-Flame’s lighters are still reasonably priced considering how in demand they are now.

The least costly Strato-Flame lighter will run you approximately $20, while the most expensive one will cost you about $49.95.

Factors Affecting an Antique Lighter Value

To light up your collection with an antique lighter, you must search and find, like most antique items. Here, the goal is to purchase lighters that fascinate you, either for your own collection or for reselling. But how much are antique lighters genuinely worth?

The quick answer is yes, of course. Collectors may place a high value on antique lighters.

The more detailed response is that it depends. A variety of factors can significantly impact a vintage lighter’s worth; thus, a collector must consider each one.

Below are a few factors that affect the value of an antique lighter:

Manufacturer

Like with other products, the brand name can greatly impact its value. Collectors choose certain brands above others because they are considerably more fascinating and valuable.

Luxury lighter brands will always cost more than non-luxury brands when it comes to antique lighters. However, it is not unusual for older lighters made by lesser producers to cost more; this is particularly true when there is a great demand.

Established in 1832, the Zippo manufacturing company has been operating for over a century. One of the well-known makers of lighters and an example of a luxury brand is Zippo.

Zippo is still in business today and has built a solid reputation. So due to zippo’s fame, it can cost more if you find a Zippo lighter made between 1945 and 1952.

Rarity

The price of a vintage lighter model depends on how scarce it is. Each antique lighter item frequently commands a higher price as there are fewer models of a given brand accessible, increasing its value.

Although age affects rarity, it’s crucial to remember that older does not automatically equate to high value unless the vintage lighter type in question is more scarce. 

Some popular vintage lighter models produced in enormous quantities have their value remain modest.

However, the oldest lighter models from Ronson and Zippo are pricey since they are currently exceedingly hard to find.

However, it is vital to keep in mind that older antique lighters, particularly those in excellent condition, are typically hard to find. Typically, it is arduous to find lighters from the early 20th century.

So, the value of a vintage lighter created before mass production tends to increase very quickly. Because of this, you should be aware that old lighters created before 1920 might make an excellent investment.

Material Used

All types of materials, colors, and sizes are obtainable for antique lighters. However, the type of material utilized in creating a vintage lighter can affect its market value.

A vintage lighter made of silver or gold will cost more than one made of inexpensive materials. The value often never exceeds the cost of gold. However, the worth of very rare items may be greater than the cost of gold.

It is important to note that expert craftsmanship may increase an antique lighter’s overall cost. For instance, an antique lighter that was handcrafted and tastefully ornamented can cost more than one with a subpar design.

Limited Edition

Some old lighters are simply masterpieces. In general, collectors are very drawn to iconic and limited-edition pieces. Because of this, a special edition usually entails a higher cost.

Generally, this is true of expensive old lighters. But limited editions with serial numbers, like the Dupont and Zippo antique lighters, can be found among the luxury antique lighters.

Condition

For collectors of antiques, the lighter condition is crucial—the cost of the antique lighter increases with the item’s quality.

It might be expensive to find antique lighters in pristine condition. However, older lighters bearing “Mint in Box or Old New Stock” are considerably more expensive.

Despite not being in perfect condition, these lighters still include all their labels, directions, and packing.

History

A tobacco lighter’s heritage may increase its value.

For instance, vintage lighters from World Wars I and II are valuable collectibles because they provide a window into the past and a sense of what life was like then.

Another example is lighters utilized on movie sets or presented as gifts to the cast. The logo of the movie, an actor’s autograph, or a kind message was frequently etched on the side of the lighter’s metal case.

As a result, it is abundantly clear which production it came from and the circumstances surrounding that specific lighter.

Where to Buy or Sell Antique Lighters

Are you considering selling your antique lighter but don’t know where to go? Well, it’s simple.

You can sell online at several auction stores like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Ruby Lane, etc.

You can also visit an antique shop or explore flea markets and yard sales around you.

However, ensure the condition of your item before making payments.

Final Takeaway

Now that you are conscious of the actual value of antique lighters, how to look for them, and what to look for, you can make an informed decision.

Antique lighters can be very expensive, especially if they are hard to find, well-made, have a well-known brand, or have an intriguing past.

It’s crucial to consider each aspect when deciding whether your vintage lighter is worth anything.

So look out for those tiny gems the next time you’re out at a yard sale! Your best choice if you believe you might have a priceless vintage lighter is to conduct a search online on it or take it to a respected antique appraiser or auction house for an appraisal.

With a bit of luck and inquiry, you never know what you might discover. You might come across a priceless collectible!

We trust that this article has addressed all of your concerns regarding vintage lighter prices. Please tell us about your antique lighter in the comment section if you have one.

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