While it had previously been common to have Zippos with authorized badges, unit crests and division insignia, it became popular among the American soldiers of the Vietnam War to get their Zippos engraved with personal mottos.
These lighters are now sought after collector's items and popular souvenirs for visitors to Vietnam.
Since its inception Zippo Lighters have been almost exclusively manufactured in the United States, with the exception of those manufactured in Niagara, Canada (an operation that has since been shut down). Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design made by IMCO.
Zippo lighters became popular in the United States military, especially during World War II — when, as the company's web site says, Zippo "ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the US military".
Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the eight decades since their introduction including military versions for specific regiments.
Since its invention Zippos have been sold around the world and have been described "a legendary and distinct symbol of Americana".
Frequently, while browsing Zippos on Ebay, I come across lighters that are said to be much older than they actually are. '66-'73 date codes are vertical lines "
This should provide the information to fix a relatively precise date for any Zippo lighter.
As with most collectibles, the date of manufacture of a Zippo lighter often affects its value.
Valuable information on the bottom of every Zippo windproof lighter can help you determine its date of manufacture.
1982-1986 Dating guide In July 1986 the line symbols were discontinued and the lighters were then identified by a series of roman numerals.
These were placed to the left of the word Zippo, which left the space to the right free.
Much of the early Zippo lighter advertising are works of art painted by hand, and as technology has evolved, so has the design and finish of the Zippo lighter.
The basic mechanism of the Zippo lighter has remained unchanged.
It was decided to print a letter to indicate the actual month of manufacture with A = January, B = February etc.
The 1937 replica series introduced in in 1985 were the first lighters to carry the Roman Numerals and 1985 lighters are stamped with I, but no date letter.
Since 1955, most Zippo lighters have carried a date code stamped on the base.
Originally this was intended as a quality control record, so that lighters returned for repair could be identified as to when they were manufactured and if, for example, a number of lighters were returned with the same fault then Zippo could identify a possible defect in the manufacturing process or even a supplier of one of the components. As there were some alterations to the positioning of the text on the bottom line, some codes were used twice, therefore close attention should be paid to the text on the bottom line for lighters with 7 or 8 dots. 1955-1965 Dating guide The next set of codes used upright lines either side of the word Zippo. Again 8 lines were used for the first year of the series, with one line being removed each year.