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As World War II began, Zippo ceased producing consumer models of their windproof lighter and focused on supplying the army.With brass being required for military machinery, Zippo produced lighters made of steel instead and coated them with black paint so they wouldn’t corrode on the battlefield.(You can learn more the dating code here.) Also stamped on the bottom of every Zippo lighter is the town where it was made—Bradford, PA. You see, there was a period when Zippo operated a factory in Canada (tax purposes), and lighters that came from that factory were stamped with “Niagara Falls, Ontario,” in place of “Bradford, Pennsylvania.” Since Zippo Canada’s production wasn’t close to that of Zippo USA, a Zippo from the land of poutine is a must-have for any serious collector. And this trend goes on, with small runs and new designs.Today, Zippo’s design center comes up with 30 new creations every year.There was the Zip Light, a flashlight that looked like a regular Zippo lighter. There were even table lighters that looked like mini tombstones. The quicker they did, the more desirable they became.Then there were the ones that never left the factory at all but could have slipped out in the pocket of an employee—a Zippo with two wheels, a combo cigar lighter and hand warmer, and many others.
The code, which is stamped on the bottom of every Zippo, displays the year and the month the lighter was made.
When you have a product perfect for collecting—many iterations, a reasonable price tag (minus that 18K gold number), a long history—and you factor in a certain je ne sais quoi, you have something that will spur the creation of collectors clubs (there are many), fan pages, and rabid collectors all hunting for Black Crackles, old date markings, and a two-wheeled Zippo that somehow slipped out of a factory in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
Zippo Canada opened in August 1949 and was the only place, other than Bradford, where Zippo lighters were produced.
There was the highly collectible Town & Country series produced between 19.
There was the Desert Camo model made for both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. When a company with some serious money to spend approached Zippo about a custom lighter, Zippo would do more than simply slap the company’s logo on the front of one.