Where did George get his inspiration? Some think it came from the Hurricane lighter. After so many years of seeing the Zippo shape it is easy to see why people would mistakenly think it was the inspirational piece, but in fact, the reverse is more likely to be the case.
The Hurricane patent was actually filed on November 22nd 1939 (roughly 7 years after the Zippo patent was submitted) with the Hurricane patent actually being issued on August 20th 1940, It is in fact the Hurricane that mimics the Zippo characteristics.
For Blaisdell's real inspirational piece, you need to look towards the Austrian market and a Lighter that George had originally been selling under a franchise agreement.
The following are 4 images of the inspirational lighter. Not a big step to modify it a little and add a hinge.
Take a lighter that needed both hands to use, improve the basic design, add a hinge to make it a one handed operation, and the Zippo is born.
If you didn't already know the details, which would you have guessed at?