Page added 10th November 2006
Updated on the 30th November 2006
You can't collect information on Zippo's without occasionally coming across the odd picture of a Zippo Patent. Every so often they pop up on a site, but finding them all is a potential nightmare. Any I have or find will eventually end up here.
The 'Square Tube' Zippo. 1936
The Flint Tube Collar. 1950
The Flint wheel Flame guard. 1955
The Zippo Table Lighter (Model 4 Barcroft). 1956
This image shows the model 4 and it's hinge design. The model 4 used a regular sized Zippo insert in the case. Previous models used larger inserts. As yet, I haven't located the patents for the earlier models.
Zippo's first foray into manufacture of a Butane lighter. It wasn't made in Bradford. Manufactured under licence in Japan in the late 80's, there are 2 major model shapes, the slim and more regular size item (the regular shown here). Differences to each model were the inclusion of coloured panels (Red, Black and others) along with a change to the design of the thumb wheel. Most thumb wheels are straight and in line with the case, while others have a concave indent.
As to which is the more functional or visually appealing? that is entirely down to the individual.
Zippo 'Charm'. 1986
Love them or hate them, they were certainly different. Numerous models were made of the charm Zippo. featuring racing cars, cats and other assorted additions to the lighter. It was nothing more than a shaped piece of metal bolted to the lid of the Zippo. Pocket wearingly evil in some of the designs, but nonetheless unusual.
The torch in a Zippo lighter case. These patents show both the older patent image (1994) and the newer (1995) production model. Zippo no longer repair the Ziplights. They are obviously battery powered, but they used a proprietary battery rather than a common AAA type. As a result, when your Ziplight finally goes flat, battery replacement becomes a major issue. especially as Zippo no longer repair the Ziplights.
There is a section on this site to show a way around the problem of a dead Ziplight, but it has to be said, it isn't for the purist who wants to keep theirs original.
Most genuine Ziplights are coming to the end of their battery life now. Those that still work give a dim light at best. Worse still, the batteries are likely to be deteriorating in the case. Even a working example is likely to have batteries that are corroding and turning green. If you have a ziplight, , check it out and remove the batteries before the innards are ruined.
Information on getting into the Ziplight (and putting it back together), as well as converting to an LED lamp is shown on the LED Ziplight page.
Zippo MPL. 2002
Also a Butane item. The MPL refers to it being a multi purpose lighter rather than a cigarette lighter. Recent times have seen the release of a smaller version (the mini MPL).
The new (and usually derided) Zippo packaging/display box. 2003
I say usually derided for the simple fact it has the ability to damage lighters far more than any other Zippo box has ever done. There are numerous horror stories related to the top of the box damaging the finish of some of the more delicately finished Zippos.
Disposable Fuel Cells. 2004
Not something many people are aware of, mainly because Zippo haven't manufactured them for the public. The patent showed one type of design with others reserved as alternatives.
The idea is simple enough, small reservoirs of fuel rather than having a lighter full of wadding soaked with fuel. The idea holds merit in some ways, but not in others. It would stop the type of people who know little about lighters from over filling them, but it does bring it's own problems along the for the ride. The main one to my mind being the problem of a reliable seal. I would personally be slightly worried that if the seal leaked, then a pocket of lighter fuel is the last thing I would want, especially if it's in your trouser pocket on a night out. Apart from the potential for embarrassment, it could also be potentially dangerous. Maybe this is the reason we haven't seen them yet.
As an additional thought on the seals. I bought one of the earlier larger models of the Zippo key ring fuel canister. It was never fuel tight, nor was a friends. It didn't instill trust in carrying fuel around. Though it has to be said, the Japanese smaller fuel canister was fuel tight. Recently Zippo changed the formula of their fuel. At around the same time a number of users of the large Zippo fuel Dispenser complained that their machines were leaking and the seals were failing, yet another doubt added.
There is also the thought that in this new 'green' world where waste of resources is now a bad thing in the public eye, a disposable container could get negative press when the Zippo already works fine as it is. After all, since Zippo began, they have used the phrase 'it works'.
If they did release the disposable fuel cells, I feel they would avoid the lower left design shown in the image, solely because it would lend itself to being reused, an action that would no doubt lead to wear on the seal itself. Either way, it doesn't really matter as despite the patent being in place, the items are not in production so we may never know.
Zippo BLU. 2005
Zippo's latest attempt at a Butane lighter. Despite being released already, the BLU is already a rarity due to an almost immediate recall by Zippo.
The lighter itself has been designed in such a way that it mimics many of the properties of a regular Zippo lighter, with the opening and closing 'click' and the usual flint wheel assembly. Hopefully they will sort out whatever gremlin caused the recall and we will be able to source them in the near future. As this was being written in November 2006, it was 3 weeks since the recall and still no sign of a re-release.
This page is a work in progress, currently I have a mass of patent images lying on my drive, of which, many are lacking in real world interest to most people, while others need to be cleaned up a little before use here. I hadn't initially planned to put so many on here, but as the page has come together it has demanded more detail. Consequently, all those I have will be added to the page later.
As an experiment, I have added colour and/or shading to some of the images, mainly to show areas of interest more clearly. As to whether this is a good idea or not, I am really not sure. As you are probably aware, the original patent images are all in black and white. Less obvious would be the fact that many of the patent images were speckled with dust dots and blemishes from both the original images and the scanners used to obtain the digital images. I have cleaned most of them to make the images more acceptable for this page.