Advert: Zippo Matchless Performance, 1940

This Zippo magazine advertisement was published in Life on the 25th November 1940. It depicts a lady lightning up her cigarette with a Zippo in the wind. The picture of the "Windy Girl" also called "Windproof Beauty" or "Windy Varga Girl" created by the famous pin-up illustrator Enoch Bolles  (1883-1976) became soon an icon of the Zippo brand as she appeared in numerous ads mark in the 1930s and 1940s. On the ad the No. 10 Zippo Table Lighter is present.


K.K.W. Camera Lighter, 1948

The K.K.W. Camera Lighter was first manufactured in 1948 in Occupied Japan. Primely it was available as a wick lighter - in 1958 the butane version of the lighter was introduced (see picture) and manufactured till the end of the 1960s. The camera lighter was available with a compass on front and without which was a cheaper version. 

It is for sure one of the best examples of Japanese craftsmanship. It is very well detailed and the materials used are good quality. The shutter button works the lighter and it can be locked by using the red button on the front which is marked open - lock. Spare flints can be kept under the large nurled knob on top.

The camera lighter is in the shape of a camera and was designed for both table and pocket as the tripod and cable release can be easily unscrewed. The body was made of metal with black crackle finish and polished metal trim. It was only available as a set: lighter, cable release and camera lighter.

Marked on the bottom of the camera lighter:


On the earlier wick lighter version the camera and the tripod were marked:

Made in Occupied Japan

The plastic cover was marked: Peace-Gas (gas lighter) or Photo-Flash (wick lighter)

Type: gas (butane) lighter & wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: commonuncommon

Value for very good–mint condition (set): $40.00–75.00 (approx €30.00–55.00)

Weight: 75 grams (0.17 lbs), set: 97 grams (0.21 lbs)


Cigarette Lighter:
  • height: 4.1 cm (1.6")
  • width: 6.7 cm (2.6")
  • depth: 1.8 cm (0.7")
Lighter including tripod and cable release:

  • height: 2.0 cm (0.8")
  • width: 8.9 cm (3.5")
  • depth: 7 cm (2.8")

Advert: Ronson Spartan, Mayfair, Queen Anne, 1952

This Ronson magazine advertisement was published in Life on the 14th April 1952. It depicts: 
  • Ronson Queen Anne Pair: table lighter with matching walnut cigarette chest;
  • Ronson Spartan: desk lighter;
  • Ronson Whilwind: pocket lighter;
  • Ronson Penciliter;
  • Ronson Pal: lighter and cigarette case;
  • Ronson Mastercase: lighter and case for cigarettes;
  • Ronson Mayfair: table lighter.

WMF Permanent Match Table Lighter, ca. 1920s

A fine example of a semi-automatic table lighter from the early 1920s (or late 1910s) linking the era of permanent matches and automatic lighters. This lighter was made by Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik AG (WMF) a German tableware manufacturer, founded in 1853 in Geislingen an der Steige, Germany, by the miller Daniel Straub and the brothers Schweizer.

WMF acquired the Polish metal-ware factory Plewkiewicz in Warsaw in 1886, which then became a subsidiary of WMF around 1900. It is very possible that this lighter was actually manufactured there.

This WMF lighter is combined with an ash-tray. The lighter is made of brass and silver plated and than artificially tarnished (oxidized) in the decorative surface areas. The fuel-filled metal tank is in the form of a matchbox which makes this permanent match even more interesting.

How it works? On the enclosed top which prevented the volatile liquid from evaporating, and to conveniently extinguish the flame a separate metal rod serving as wick is present. The rod is removed but not as in most permanent matches scratched against a flint on the side of the case to create a spark. The internal wick catches fire owing to the flint mechanism installed in the bottom section of the lighter where the sparks are engraved. To generate spark one must just turn the knob. The flame is extinguished by placing the rod into the shell, where it absorbs fuel for the next use.

Marked on the bottom:
Type: permanent match

Scarcity: very rare

Value for very good–mint condition (silver or gold plated): $250.00–450.00 (approx €200.00–380.00)

Weight: 260 grams (0.58 lbs)

  • height: 14.0 cm (5.5")
  • diameter: 11.9 cm (4.7")

Advert: Evans Famous Magic Lamp Table Lighter, 1949

This vintage magazine ad depicts "The Magnificent" Evans automatic lighter – the Famous Magic Lamp model – advertised as: Perfect gift, proud possession - an Evans fully automatic table lighter can be personalized with engraving. The advert was published on the 18th July 1949 in the Life magazine.

Advert: Evans Table Lighters, 1949

This Evans Case Company vintage magazine advertisement was published in the Christmas edition of Esquire in December 1949. It depicts the basic range of Evans table lighters
  • The Victorian,
  • The Futura Cigarette Holder and Table Lighter,
  • The New Magic Lamp, 
  • The Duchess,
  • The Stardust,
  • The Windsor,
  • The Imperial,
  • The Famous Magic Lamp.

Advert: Evans Victorian Table Lighter, 1949

This vintage magazine ad depicts the sensational Evans automatic lighter – the Victorian model – advertised as: For any room, every home - useful, beautiful gift. Rich silver or golden metal finish. The advert was published on the 10th October 1949 in Life magazine.

Vintage advertisement, Evans Victorian Table Lighter

Collecting Tobacciana / Smoking Collectibles, taxonomy

Collecting smoking memorabilia has been a growing hobby worldwide. Of course the amount of tobacciana collectibles is so big that different collectible branches emerged. Below the top 5 most popular tobacco & smoking collectibles:
  1. Matchboxes and matchbooks - the most popular tobacciana collectible worldwide. The main reason for such popularity was the accessibility of matchboxes and matchbooks, their low price and the great variety of matchcovers (labels) that have been used as a form of advertising since 1894. Since then they have attracted people who enjoy the hobby of collecting different match-related items. Phillumeny also known as Phillumenism became especially widespread from the 1960s through the 1980s. 
  2. Pocket lighters - this portable devices used to generate a flame is closely connected with the Ronson company which in 1926 introduced the first automatic flame pocket lighter called Banjo. This innovation become an over helming inspiration for many entrepreneurs who established such brands like Dunhill, Colibri, KW or Zippo. The most collectible lighters nowadays are Zippos. 
  3. Ashtrays - in the 1930s till the 1960s ashtrays were very common interior items available in almost every room at home, office, restaurants etc. Since the 1940s the ashtrays have been a popular advertising vehicle. Collectors look for ashtrays with clever and unusual ads, colors, shapes and sizes. Later beginning from the 1970s smoking become less popular and ashtrays in public are becoming increasingly rare due to the proliferation of smoking bans.
  4. Smoking pipes - have been used since ancient times. Herodotus described Scythians inhaling the fumes of burning leaves in 500 B.C. Romans, and Greeks adopted pipes from their neighbors to the east and they were subsequently used by Germanic, Celtic and Nordic tribes. Later tobacco was introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century and spread around the world.
  5. Cigarette cards - also known as tobacco cards are trade cards issued since 1875 by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands. Popular themes were 'beauties' (famous actresses, film stars and models), sporters (in the US mainly baseball, in the rest of the world mainly football and cricket), nature, military heroes and uniforms, heraldry and city views. Early in 2007, a world record price was paid in America for a single card - $2,350,000, or roughly equivalent to around £1,200,000. This card was sold later on in the year for another world record price $2,800,000 (approximately £1,500,000) The card in question featured Honus Wagner, one of the great names in U.S. baseball at the turn of the 20th century.

Other tobacciana memorabilia (antique, vintage and novelty):
  • advertiser display,
  • cases,
  • Chesterfield pipes die cut,
  • cigar and tobacco tins,
  • cigar-bands,
  • cigar-box labels,
  • cigarette lighters,
  • cigarette wall racks,
  • cigarette, cigar and tobacco advertising (magazine adverts, signs etc.),
  • cigarette-insert-cards,
  • cigarettes,
  • cigars,
  • cigar cutters,
  • counter bins,
  • counter stands,
  • felts,
  • hookahs,
  • lighters instructions,
  • matchbooks,
  • matchboxes,
  • match holders,
  • old cigarette-packets and tobacco labels,
  • papers,
  • pipe and counter display, 
  • pipes,
  • plates,
  • posters,
  • prints,
  • signs,
  • silks,
  • table and desk lighters,
  • tags,
  • tins,
  • tobacco cards,
  • tobacco packs,
  • trench lighters,
  • water pipes,
  • wings cigarettes.

Books on cigarette lighters for collectors

The literature on vintage table lighters is still limited though one can gather about 30 titles (mostly American, British and German) that might be an important part of a lighter collectors bookcase. The most valuable books are presented below. They are quite easy to get as you can obtain them directly through I hope you will find this list useful.

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Cigarette Lighters Brochures and Catalogs, Ronson 1938

Brochures and catalogs next to advertisements are the most reliable source of information on vintage cigarette lighters. Owing to them we can easily state the date of production, price, possible limitations in production, catalog name and other useful information for a keen collector.

The most interesting and sought after catalogs/brochures were made by Ronson, Myflam, Zippo and Evans. Below two sites of the Ronson - World's Greatest Lighter catalog (catalogue) showing some exquisite examples of table lighters from 1938/1939 like the Ronson Touch-Tips and Touch-Tip combinations (humidor, ash-tray, cigarette box, clock, calendar pad and watch).