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  • Refillable Cigarette Lighters

    My dad mentioned recently that until about 30 year ago refillable lighters were considered a near-essential fashion item for smokers.

    I guess that the decline of them is due to the decine in smoking & the introduction of disposable lighters.

    Zippo lighters seemed to be popular in the 1980s - early 1990s, & seem to be one of the more popular brands around today.

    Can anyone remember any other trends in lighters?
    The Trickster On The Roof

  • #2
    Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

    you can get throwaway lighters at silly money mere pence each so why bother filling i expect?
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

      Table lighters seem to have disappeared. I have a few with wooden and onyx bases, fitted with Ronson wick lighter inserts.

      I think that the inserts date from the 1950s as Ronson seemed to change from manufacturing wick lighters to the Varaflame butane lighters around 1958. The Varaflame are not as reliable as the older wick lighters and probably contributed to the decline in Ronson compared with Zippo which stayed with wick lighters.

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      • #4
        Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

        My late mother (who later died of lung cancer for all the obvious reasons) had a few of these colourful transparent lighters around the house, given to her by her "friend" who seemed to have a lot of them - there was enough fuel inside them to set the entire house on fire.

        I could also mention the obvious connection with regards to "Zippo" and the late Geoffrey Hayes from Rainbow as well... (Sorry, couldn't resist).
        Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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        • #5
          Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

          We had a Ronson table lighter, plus my mum had a slim pocket version
          Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas - go figure!

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          • #6
            Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

            My mum told me that butane lighters were once popular Christmas presents but the buyer would often forget to buy a can of butane. Lighters are sold empty for safety reasons and so that they can be posted. On Christmas day the recipient would have a lighter that they could not use.

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            • #7
              Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

              I have one without the inner lighter part that I use as a tea light holder. Itís the perfect size and the light shines through it beautifully. It belonged to my uncle so it gives me fond memories of him too.
              1976 Vintage

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              • #8
                Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                It intrigues me why Zippo thrived and has been described as "a legendary and distinct symbol of America" yet Ronson which quoted itself as "World's Greatest Lighter" declined and faded before eventually being taken over by its competitor Zippo in 2010.

                I mentioned back in #3 about how Ronson changed from manufacturing wick lighters to butane lighters around 1958 whereas Zippo stuck with manufacturing its tried and tested wick lighters right up to today. Therefore I can't help wondering if the market for Ronson vs Zippo ended up diverging after this point and Ronson became more vulnerable to the onslaught of disposable lighters in the 1970s than Zippo did.

                https://www.nytimes.com/1979/10/28/a...ing-flame.html

                Zippo has the image of being a soldier's lighter, and in the hands of a civilian a lighter for the rugged outdoors, whereas Ronson has the image of a gentleman's lighter despite large numbers of them being sold to servicemen during WW2. It's well known that Zippo lighters were an almost essential accessory of soldiers during the Vietnam war and "Zippo squad" became a phrase of American military jargon for being assigned to burn a village, but there don't seem to be any reports of soldiers carrying butane lighters, and by the late 1960s all new Ronson lighters used butane. Therefore Zippo must have profited massively from the Vietnam war whilst Ronson didn't.

                Ronson were a large manufacturer of table lighters whereas Zippo concentrated almost exclusively on hand held lighters - their table lighters are few and far between. I have never liked the Ronson Varaflame table lighter inserts from the 1960s and 70s, and they look cheap and nasty with plastic cases as well as being difficult to repair, so I have replaced them with the older wick lighter inserts which almost last for ever.

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                • #9
                  Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                  Zippos seemed to become trendy in the 1980-90s when American things were cool. The limited edition lighters with band & other logos seemed to sell well.
                  The Trickster On The Roof

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                  • #10
                    Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                    One thing about Zippos is that if you have seen one you have seen them all as the basic design is identical for every lighter. They differ only by the images and logos on them.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                      I dont remember my dad carrying any other lighter than this....
                      Attached Files
                      Ejector seat?...your jokin!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                        That is a Ronson Varaflame Premier.

                        Refillable butane lighters probably had attractive selling points in the late 1950s through to the early 1970s. Fill them with a shot of butane once a year or so and away you go. There was no longer the fiddly job of having to replace wicks whenever they burnt out and repack the lighter with cotton wool. I have heard rumours that cigar smokers preferred butane lighters to wick lighters because of the clean burning flame whereas burning lighter fluid taints the cigar with residues.

                        The downside of butane lighters are their long term reliability when valves and seals start to fail. Parts are still available for some Ronsons but I suspect that many were just thrown away rather than repaired when they stopped working properly. In contrast, wick lighters have very few things that can go wrong with them so they can last almost for ever. Zippo lighters carry a lifetime guarantee with the quotation "It works or we fix it for free".

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                        • #13
                          Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                          When I see the name Zippo, I cannot stop smiling without thinking about Zippy's cousin in Rainbow!
                          Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                            Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                            When I see the name Zippo, I cannot stop smiling without thinking about Zippy's cousin in Rainbow!
                            I thought he was one of the marx bros..
                            Ejector seat?...your jokin!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Refillable Cigarette Lighters

                              Originally posted by tex View Post
                              I thought he was one of the marx bros..
                              Before my time, I am afraid. He would have been like Harpo when he was zipped up.

                              There was also a clown act called Zippo and Co which visited various shows in the 1980s.
                              Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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