Vintage Cigarette Lighters

& Ashtrays, too!

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FAQ - Things 2 Know About Lighters

800 Silver: 80% silver - 800 parts silver per 100; having more nickel it is substantially harder than Sterling Silver (925) or Coin silver (888 or 900) but tarnishes more quickly.

Accendino: Italian - Lighter

Alpacca / Alpaca: German silver, Nickel silver - is not actual "silver" and contains no silver More Info

Angemeldet: German - Registered

Argente: French - Silver - 'Argente Metal' - Silver plated

Auermetal: Original name for what we now know as "flint" for lighters. Synthetic metal invented by Karl Auer von Welsbach in 1903

Bakelite: An early plastic invented by Dr. Baekeland in 1909.

Brevet: French - Patent - 'Brevet Depose' - Patent pending

Briquet: French - Lighter

Bte.: Abbreviation for Brevet

BSGDG: French abbreviation for: Brevet San Garantie Du Governement - patent without guarantee of the government. This is in connection with the French patent law which originated in 1844.

Celluloid: Generally regarded as the first thermoplastic. Created as Parkesine in 1862, Xylonite in 1869 and registered as Celluloid in 1870. Very flammable and decomposes easily.

Chase, Chased: SEE: Repose

Coin Silver: an alloy typically of 90% silver and 10% copper or 900 silver - sometimes 888 silver or 88.8% silver.

Dating Lighters: Quick Reference
  • AREA CODES: AT&T implemented Area Codes in 1947.
  • ZIP CODES: If it has a Zip Code, it is post 1963 when Zips were introduced.
  • 800 NUMBERS: In the 1960s in the United Kingdom Freephone services were introduced. In 1967, AT&T introduced the IN-WATS (inbound wide area telephone service) service and 800 numbers in this country. So, if you see an 800 number, it is definitely post-1967.
  • PHONE NUMBERS: from 1920s - mid-1960s (and even into the 1970s in a very few places) phone numbers had "exchanges" (e.g. EXpress[39] EX-20801 which later became 392-0801)
  • BARCODES: Began usage on retail products in mid-1974 with Wrigley's Gum. So anything with a barcode is definitely later than 1974.
  • Butane Lighters: The first butane lighter was introduced in 1947 by Flaminaire. No butane lighter is older than that. Early lighters all had fuel tanks that had to be replaced when spent. Refillable butane lighters were showing up in the mid 1950s and the proprietary fuel tanks were all but gone about the same time.
  • Piezoelectric Lighters: You click and there is a spark (or isn't if the piezo mechanism is dead); there is no flint. The first is the Colibri Moletric 80 circa 1962. The mid-1960s through the 1970s are the heyday of the piezoelectric.
  • D.B.G.M.: (German) After October 1952
  • D.R.G.M.: (German) Before October 1952

DBGM, DRGM & DRP: - German - Registered Design More Info

EPNS: Electro plated nickel silver

Eslabon: Spanish - Lighter

Feuerzeug: German - Lighter

German Silver: Nickel silver - is not actual "silver" and contains no silver More Info

Gold Filled: a solid layer of gold is bonded to a base metal by heat and pressure. "1/10 10K GF" means the gold covering is 10 karat gold and is 1/10 the total weight of the metal that is filled; "1/20 12K GF" means 12K gold is 1/20 the total weight. Gold Filled is much thicker than plating, but if considering actual gold content 1/10 10K GF comes out to an equivalent of about 1K - so not much gold is involved!

Gold, Rolled: see Gold Filled

Guilloche: a decorative engraving technique in which an intricate pattern is mechanically engraved and covered with a translucent enamel. More Info

Lichter: Dutch - Lighter

Makiye: Japanese artistic raised lacquer works More Info

Marque Deposee: French - Trademark

Ministere Finances: French or Belgian Tax Seal on lighters.   More Info

Modele Deposee: French - Registered Design

Monel: Nickel & copper alloy More Info

Namiki Lacquer: Makiye work from Namiki Lacquer Works More Info

Nickel Silver: German silver - is not actual "silver" and contains no silver More Info

Perspex: a.k.a. Plexiglas, Lucite, and other terms More Info

Prices - By The Book: If you are using one of the older lighter books for prices, consider this: The books are at least 5 years old and in most cases 10 to 15 years old. Prices were vastly different before eBay. There was no way to tell what a lighter was worth or how rare it was; prices were set by what a dealer could get for a given lighter and that is what is reflected in the books. Ebay democratized pricing because suddenly "rare" lighters were showing up everywhere and, naturally, the prices dropped drastically - and some collectors saw what they believed the value of their collection drop like the stock market in 1929! Of course, a few others became more rare because they weren't showing up. The book prices are, by and large, guesstimates of what a lighter would bring at a show or private sale before eBay changed everything. Keep that in mind! SEE: Value: What is a lighter worth? - below

R.G.P.: Rolled Gold Plate - Similar to Rolled Gold - but much thinner and lower quality. see Gold, Rolled

Repose, Repousse: a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. There are few techniques that offer such diversity of expression while still being relatively economical. Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. It is also known as embossing.

While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The term chasing is derived from the noun "chase", which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation.

SGDG: French abbreviation for: San Garantie Du Governement - without guarantee of the government. This is in connection with the French patent law which originated in 1844.

Shagreen: Leather of a rough or untanned skin - Ass, Horse, Shark, Ray - typically.

ZIPLA 90: (Dutch) abbreviation of Zilver Plate (Silver Plate). "90" as a "hallmark" also stands for Silver Plate meaning 90 parts silver per 1000; Sterling silver is 925 (925 parts per 1000).

Value: What is a lighter worth? - It's worth what someone will pay for it! See what other similar lighter have sold for to get an idea of this amount. On eBay, next to the SEARCH button, click ADVANCED for the advanced search. Enter the search term for your lighter, choose a category if appropriate, near the top look for the check box next to COMPLETED LISTINGS and check it. If some lighters like yours have recently sold, you can see what they sold for and check to see what their condition is relative to yours as well as seeing lighters currently for sale and watch them to see what they bring. If you are going to sell it, the information and pictures with your listing will be a factor as well as how much you are changring for shipping. SEE: A Note to eBay Sellers

Lighter Types:  

  • Catalytic: Using a catalyst to produce a chemical effect (heat/fire) More Info
  • Flint & Petrol: Uses flint (Auermetal) and [typically] a spark wheel to generate sparks winch, in turn, ignite a flame on the fuel soaked wick. 'Petrol' derives from the fact that the early lighters did not use 'lighter fluid' - it hadn't been developed and marketed yet. They used gasoline, kerosene, and/or naphtha (depending on time and place). More Info
  • Flint & Butane: Uses flint (Auermetal) and [typically] a spark wheel to generate sparks which, in turn ignite the butane gas flowing from a nearby jet.
  • Piezoelectric & Butane: Uses piezoelectric to generate spark to ignite butane gas. More Info
  • Silent Flame: Table lighter: a wand is used to complete a circuit with batteries. This circuit heats a small coil which, in turn, lights a which to burn petrol for a flame - the coil, wick, and petrol are within the wand.
  • Striker: The lighter holds a fuel reservoir which keeps the "wick" in the wand (striker) saturated. The steel tip of the wand is scratched against a flint strip causing small sparks which ignite the wick.
  • Tinder Cord / Fusee Lighters: More Info
  • Manual:
    • Open the lighter mechanism
    • Activate the igniter (e.g. turn the flint wheel to cause a spark)
    • Close the lighter when finished to snuff out the flame
  • Semi-Automatic:
    • Activate a mechanism (e.g. a button) that, in turn, opens the lighter and activates the igniter
    • Close the lighter when finished to snuff out the flame
    • These lighters are also often called "automatic", since they do light automatically... but it does take an extra step to extinguish them.
  • Automatic:
    • Activate a mechanism that, in turn, opens the lighter and activates the igniter. When finished, release the mechanism which, in turn, closes the lighter and snuffs out the fire. The fully automatic mechanism is what was invented and patented by Ronson that either kept competitors out of the way for quite awhile or forced royalties from them.
  • Slip / Wheel Lighters:
    • Pretty much interchangeable terms for simple, generally inexpensive lighters where the cover "slipped" on to the base and inside was a simple wheel, flint, and wick. Typically the works was an insert that slipped out of the bottom part of the case to add fuel and change flint.