The history of Zippo Manufacturing Company is the story of its people. From its founder George G. Blaisdell, to the many Zippo employees, customers, and collectors who have all played a vital role in the company’s rich history. Their loyalty and dedication has made Zippo one of America’s greatest and most recognizable icons.
In the fall of 2002, Zippo obtained trademark registration for the shape of the Zippo lighter. This was a major milestone to help protect the brand from counterfeiters.
Zippo’s diverse product line continues to grow, and now includes lighter accessories, butane multi-purpose lighters, men’s and women’s fragrances, lifestyle accessories, eyewear, and products for outdoor enthusiasts.
1930s Zippo's chronology begins in 1930, at the Bradford Country Club, in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Mr. Blaisdell watches as a friend struggled to use an awkward Austrian made lighter. Mr. Blaisdell found that the lighter worked well, even in windy conditions, due to its unique chimney, but its appearance and design was impractical and inefficient. In handling, the lighter required the use of both hands and its fine metal surface was easily deformable.
At the end of 1932, Mr. Blaisdell decided to rebuild the Austrian lighter. He made a small rectangular sleeve, attaching a hinged lid to it. He kept the design of the fireplace, which protected the flame. The result was an attractive lighter, easily operated with one hand. The name "Zippo" was created by MrBlaisdell. He liked the sound of the word "zipper", so he came up with a number of variations on that sound until he settled on "Zippo", which he felt had a "modern" sound.
The new lighter, sold for $ 1.95, was backed by the (now) famous lifetime warranty: “It works or we fixit free. ™” (it works or we fix it for free). The Zippo patent application was filed on May 17, 1934. That famous first Zippo, manufactured in 1933, is housed in the Zippo / Case Museum in Bradford.
1940s World War II had profound consequences for Zippo In 1941, after the US entered the war, Zippo stopped manufacturing lighters for consumer markets and began manufacturing solely and exclusively for the US military. .UU. Giving rise to the production of the Zippo Black Crackle ™ lighter. The mere fact that millions of American servicemen carried their lighter to the battlefield was a major catalyst in the establishment of the Zippo as an American icon throughout the world. Total manufacturing went to supply the military market and enabled Zippo to become financially strong by making the brand solvent.
At the end of the war, in 1945, Zippo returned to selling lighters to a peacetime America and resumed manufacturing for the consumer market.
1950s On August 1, 1950, the second Zippo patent was issued. The design of the Zippo lighter remains practically the same although with minor improvements. In the mid-1950s the date code began to be engraved on the base of every Zippo lighter. Their initial objective was to carry out quality control, but the codes became an indispensable tool for collectors. In 1956, the Zippo Slim® Lighter was launched, which was a major milestone. This slightly smaller version of the Zippo lighter was designed to appeal to women, but to their surprise, it was also attractive to men.
In 1962, Zippo made its first product outside of the lighters line. The Zippo pocket tape measure, the “meter,” as it was called then, had a design very similar to that of the famous lighter. Since 1960, other items were included and removed from the Zippo line. Many of them specially tailored to the promotional products department, including key rings, small golf tools (greenskeepers), pen and pencil sets and the pocket flashlight, ZipLight.
1970s Blaisdell passed away on October 3, 1978. His memory is not only related to the invention of the Zippo lighter, but also to his spirit, generous and kind. After his death, his daughters, Harriett B. Wick and Sarah B. Dorn, inherited the business. During the 1970s, Zippo began to expand into foreign markets.
1990s In 1993, Zippo acquired W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Company. Case's rich heritage began with its founding in 1889. The Company relocated to Bradford in 1905. Case manufactured superior quality artisan knives, including folding pocket knives and fixed blade sport knives for limited editions, commemorations and collections. The Zippo / Case Museum opened in July 1997. The 1,394 m² facility includes a shop and museum. Also here is the famous Zippo Repair Center, where visitors can attend repair processes.