Wills's Cigarette Cards: Automatic Cigarette Lighter and Safety Matches, 1926

These two British cigarette trade cards were issued by W.D. & H.O. Wills (tobacco manufacturer) in 1926. They are part of the 50 Wills's Cigarettes 3rd series cards called “Do You Know”. In the UK, Wills in 1887 were one of the first companies to include advertising cards with their cigarettes.

The first card (no. 28) shows the anatomy of an "automatic lighter" (actually it is a semi-automatic lighter). 

On the back of the this card Wills explains how this lighter work:
When the spring knob is pressed the lid flies open, and the steel wheel A rotates. The “flint” is held against the wheel by a spring (not shown in the diagram), and the friction of the milled edge of the steel wheel against the “flint” sends a spark to the wick C and ignites it. The wick is fed from the small reservoir D, which is packed with cotton wool and supplied with petrol.

Other Wills's Cigarette Card linked to fire making is the card no. 40 that explains why is the safety-match safe.

The explanation is as follows: 
Old-fashioned phosphorus matches had many disadvantages. The ordinary white or yellow phosphorus used in them is a deadly poison responsible for many accidental deaths, while the workers who made the matches often suffered from phosphorus poisoning. A modified form of phosphorus know as red phosphorus was first used for making matches in Sweden about 1850. This is perfectly harmless substance, and the manufacture of Safety-Matches is therefore not dangerous. Modern matches are safe in another sense: the phosphorus required for lightning is on the box and not in the match-heads, which are therefore much less liable to catch fire accidentally.

LektroLite Flameless Lighters Postcard, 1930/1940s

This humorous "LektroLite Flameless Lighters" postcard was in circulation in the late 1930s/ early 1940s mainly in the United States. What a good way to promote products!

Advert: Evans Promotional Leaflet, 1949

This six-page promotional leaflet was found in a box from a table lighter made by Evans Case Company in the late 1940s. It features "smart new designs" of table lighters, Liter-Case combinations and pocket lighters.

FAQ: Evans How to Fill and Replace Flint, ca 1945

This small instruction leaflet was added to all new Evans lighters in the mid 1940s.

Ronson Lighters Catalog, England 1938/1939

After five hours of work I have just finished to digitize the Ronson Catalog from the 1938. I must admit that it looks great. It covers the whole range of Ronson cigarette table/desk, combo and pocket lighters made that day. Approximately 150 lighters are described and illustrated in this 20-page catalog. A must have for every lighter collector!

Please make a donation of $5 and you get this and couple of other publications on lighters (for instance: Lighter Repair Manual) in PDF delivered to you by email! Thank you!

Mail Order Catalog, House of Gellman Brothers, 1938

Fine examples of cigarette table/desk lighters from the Gellman Bros. catalog from 1938. Featured are several "new modernistic designed automatic lighters" mainly chrome and nickel plated.

16th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, Germany

On the 2nd of May (Saturday), 2015 the 16th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, Germany will take place. Table holders can setup from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. More info can be obtained from Grahame Martin: grahame.martin@t-online.de

Advert: Ronson "Le Dix" Table Lighter, 1977

This Ronson advertisement was published in a French magazine on 1977. It depicts the Ronson Varaflame "Le Dix" butane table lighter with a heavy pewter base and two gas pocket lighters; the Ronson "Electric 7" and "Veratronic". The "Le Dix" table lighter was marketed in the USA as the "Varaflame Tankard".

Ritepoint Roman Classic Liter, Vu-Lighter, 1949

The "Roman Classic Liter" Table/Desk Lighter was manufactured by Ritepoint Co. in St. Louis, USA between 1949 and 1954. Sylvester G. Lipic was the inventor of this futuristic looking lighter which was available in four colors. It was the first table lighter with a transparent fuel reservoir (today known as the see through "vu-lighter") which was a lucrative invention as it was widely used in the advertising sector. 

The Ritepoint Liter was advertised as the lighter that "signals the eye — before it's dry". The body was made of a transparent plastic whereas the top and the bottom were made of brass and chrome-plated. The bottom of the lighter is padded with black felt and marked:

Sylvester G. Lipic Pres.

Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for very good–mint condition: $30.00–40.00 (€25–30)

Weight: 148 grams (5.2 oz)

  • height: 11 cm (4.3")
  • diameter: 4.9 cm (1.9")

Advert: Ronson Kitchenette, Town & Country Set, 1959

This Ronson magazine advertisement was published in LIFE Magazine in 1959. Presented are several models of Ronson pocket:
  • Windlite – exclusive slotted "windshield" lifetime wick... removable base for simpler fueling; satin finish (model no. 34-51341-237) 
  • Sport – handsomely styled, ruggedly built, remarkably low priced; Tortoise Enamel (34-52679-417) Brigh Woven Mesh (model no. 34-51291-450) 
  • Venus – Feminine-styled ladies' purse lighter. Slender, streamlined, sophisticated 
  • Adonis – modern, sweeping lines. Slim as fine watch. Satin finish, engraved design (model no. 34-52752-597) and table/desk lighters:
    • Fantasy – elegant satin-white China, touched with gold (model no. 34-51085-1110)
    • Regal – swirl design, in gleaming copper (model no. 34-52828-990)
    • Queen Anne – Lustrous Silver Plate (model no. 34-52802-870)
    • Kitchenette – fine China, colorful Kitchen motif (model no. 34-52810-897)
    • Nordic Set – genuine black and gold marble Table Lighter and matching Cigarette Urn (model no. 34-52877-1110)
    • Town and Country Set –  Modern Glazed Ceramic Lighter and Matching Ash tray (model no. 34-52851-1290)

    Ronson Nordic Table Lighter, 1955

    The Ronson Nordic was first manufactured in 1955 in Newark, N.J. in the United States. The production went on till 1958. The body of the lighter was made of many different materials like wood (dark and light), marble and clear glass (see photo). The Nordic table lighter made of gold & black (portoro) marble was available only as a set with a matching cigarette holder (urn). In all cases the base was chrome-plated and had a leaf and scroll pattern.

    The lighter had a smaller version of the Ronson Essex fitment. That is why the engineers added the lever action to make the lighter more easy to operate. The lighter insert is chrome-plated and marked on the bottom:

    RONSON (R)
    NEWARK, N.J. U.S.A.
    2,481,195 & 2,715,320

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Writing on the bottom on the foil label:

    Newark, N.J.

    Scarcity: uncommon

    Value for good–mint condition: 202 zł–90.00 (208 zł–75)

    Weight: 492 grams (1 3/8 oz)
    • height: 8.5 cm (3.5")
    • diameter: 8.5 cm (3.5")

    Early American Trio Lighter Set, 1946

    This lighter set called "Early American Trio by Davis" was made in the late 1940s in the United States. It contains two cast iron ashtrays (wheelbarrow ash tray & coal scuttle ash tray) and a plastic table lighter (lantern cigarette lighter). All parts have a painted flower design on a rich black background.

    The lighter is stamped on the bottom:


    The lighter insert is a simple wick and wheel type lighter made of brass. It is not marked.

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Scarcity: uncommonrare

    Value for very good–mint condition (set): 135 zł–60.00 (approx 125 zł–45.00)

    • lighter 70 g (2 3/8 oz)
    • set 455 g (1 lb)
    Dimensions of the lighter:
    • height (with handle): 13.0 cm (5.1")
    • diameter: 5.5 cm (2.2")

    Patent: Ronson Juno Table Lighter, 1949

    The "Juno" table lighter model was first manufactured by Ronson  in 1950 in Newark, New Jersey, USA although the design of the lighter (F. Kaupmann) was patented earlier by the United States Patent Office on 23th August 1949 (patent no. 154,929).

    Ronson Scandia Table Lighter, 1955

    The Scandia Table Lighter was first manufactured by Rosenthal and Ronson in 1955 in Newark, N.J. U.S.A. The base of the lighter is made of white China porcelain (Rosenthal) and dark rosewood. It was marketed in the United States separate and in a set with a matching cigarette holder.
    Golden foil label on the bottom of base is marked:




    The small chromium plate lighter "Essex" insert is marked:

    RONSON (R)
    NEWARK, N.J. U.S.A.

    2,481,195 & 2,715,329

    Type: wick (petrol) lighter

    Scarcity: rare

    Value for very good–mint condition: $50.00–75.00 (approx €40.00–60.00)

    Weight: 135 grams (4 5/8 oz)

    • height: 8.6 cm (3.4")
    • diameter: 5.8 cm (2.3")

    Silver Plated Lift-Arm Table Lighter, 1928

    This lift-arm desk/table lighter was sold by the "World's Largest Novelty House" N. Shure Co., Chicago between 1928 and 1932. The manufacturer is unknown. It was available in nickel and silver plate. It was a low budget table lighter as the retail price per dozen was only 30 zł.

    The nickel-plated lighter insert is removable and attached to the base with two screws. There are no markings on the base of the lighter that could identify the maker. The lighter base is heavy and has a hammered design with a floral and beaded accents.

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Scarcity: rare

    Value for very good–mint condition: $35.00–50.00 (€25–35)

    Weight: 210 grams (7 3/8 oz)

    • height: 13.5 cm (5.3")
    • width: 5.2 cm (2")
    • depth: 4.4 cm (1.7")

    Advert: Spark Lite Pocket & Desk Lighters, 1955

    These two full-page color advertisements were published in an unknown American magazine in 1955. Several models of the Spark-Lite lighters are presented: Commodore and President pocket lighters and Director, Diplomat, Continental and Onyx table/desk butane gas lighters. 

    Negbaur 75 Cannon Table Lighter Instruction, 1940

    The U.S. 75 mm Cannon Lighter was manufactured by Negbaur between 1940 and 1949 in Allbright, New York in the United States. Below the instruction leaflet for it.

    Ronson Banjo Pocket Cigarette Lighter, USA, 1926

    The Ronson Banjo was the first automatic pocket lighter in the world. It was marketed by Art Metal Works (AMW), Inc. between 1926 and 1928 in Newark (New Jersey) in the United States. It was sold for $5 each and was an incredible success. The table-top model of the Ronson Banjo was introduced one year later in 1927. The Banjo was designed by L.V. Aronson and was available in silver plate and gold plate (extremely rare).

    The "one motion" lighter mechanism was patented on 12th June 1928. The patent 1,673,727 protected the lighter mechanism till 1933 when the patent was reissued as patent no. 19,023 on 12th December 1933. It was promoted as the "Press It's Lit - Release It's Out". The lighter was light and easy to use and changed the lighter industry for years to come. The instruction sheet to the lighter is available here.

    The lighter is marked on the snuffer:

    P'T'D DEC, 31.1918

    as well as on the fuel screw on the back:

    NEWARK, N.J.

    The Ronson Banjo was only manufactured for a short period of time. In the 1990s Ronson Japan decided to make a reproduction of the lighter to commemorate the "First Automatic Lighter in the World". Small changes were applied to some part in order to make the reproduction distinguishably from the original.One can still find some examples being sold in Japan and China.

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Scarcity: very rare

    Value for good–mint condition: $250–500 (approx. €200400)

    Weight: 55 grams (1.9 oz)

    • height: 6.0 cm (2 1/4")
    • width: 4.7 cm (1 7/8")
    • depth: 1.2 cm (1/2")

    Flamidor Lift Arm Table Lighter, 1935

    This interesting lift arm table lighter marked "Unis France" was manufactured between 1935 and 1939 by J. Quercia (Flamidor) in (176, Rue St. Martin) Paris, France. Flamidor is one of the most famous and oldest lighter manufacturer in the world. The business was established by Janvier Quercia in 1890 in the Marais district of Paris. At the beginning Quercia was manufacturing cabinets and silverware. After 1906 the company markets the first Quercia lighter and since 1908 it manufacturers even more lighter models. In 1935 Marcel Quercia became the director of Flamidor which is the ancestor of the Flaminaire brand.

    The semi-automatic wick table lighter was available in various finishes, mainly nickel plate over brass and covered with leather. Flamidor manufactured this lighter in two sizes - the shorter one is depicted. They were widely promoted in French magazines in 1935-1938 as "le briquet de bureau chic". It is also worth to mention that Unis France (Union Nationale Inter-Syndicale) was established in 1916 and was an organization promoting French products. The headquarters of Unis France was 41 Rue de Maubeuge, Paris, France. The organization was active till 1940.

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Marked on the underside:

    BREVETE S.G.D.G. (type of a French patent without state warranty)

    BBR (bleu, blanc, rouge; colors of the French flag: blue, white, red)

    Scarcity: uncommon–rare

    Value for good–mint condition: $50–100.00 (approx €40–80.00)

    Weight: 200 grams (7 1/8 oz)

    • height: 7.3 cm (2.9")
    • width: 8.7 cm (3.4")
    • depth: 3.7 cm  (1.4")

    Rustic Lift Arm Table Lighter, 1931

    This stylish Art Deco lift arm Table Lighter was manufactured between 1931 and 1937 by Rustic in France. It was available in various finishes, mainly nickel plate and brass.

    The outer case can be find in enamel, leather. The lighter is very robust and heavy as it is made of solid brass. 

    Type: petrol (wick) lighter

    Marked on the underside:

    Scarcity: uncommon–rare

    Value for good–mint condition: $60–120.00 (approx €45–90.00)

    Weight: 265 grams (9 1/3 oz)
    • height: 10.3 cm (4.1")
    • width: 7.5 cm (3")
    • depth: 2.8 cm  (1.1")