Brief history of the Zippo lighter.
Founder George G Blaisdell (1895 - 1978)
Zippo was founded in 1932 when George G. Blaisdell decided to create a lighter that would look good and be easy to use. On a warm summer night in 1931 George was at the Bradford Country Club. Legend has it that he stepped outside and was in conversation with a very elegantly dressed man. His acquaintance lit a cigarette with a lighter which seemed to George a clumsy and unsightly accessory for such a well dressed man and he couldn’t help remarking “You’re all dressed up, why don’t you get a lighter that looks decent?” “Because it works” was the reply.
That answer so impressed the practical minded George that he applied for, and was granted, the US distribution rights for the $1.00 Austrian made lighter. This consisted of two main pieces, a removable brass lid, and a brass bottom case that held the wick, fuel reservoir and striking mechanism. In an effort to improve the lighters appearance he persuaded the Austrian manufacturers to chrome plate the the case, but sales were still disappointing and he soon gave up his distribution rights for the imported lighter.
In 1932 he set out to design and manufacture a lighter of his own. He rented a small workshop above the Rickerson & Pryde garage in Bradford for $10.00 a month. His original investment was $800.00 and he employed six people. Fascinated by another recent invention, the zipper, he called his new lighter Zippo and backed it with a Lifetime Guarantee. The first 1933 lighter was one-quarter inch taller than the ones we know today, and it had sharp square corners and an external hinge.
Those early years must have been pretty tough, but here we are in 2008 and Zippo has produced over 400 million windproof lighters since its founding in 1932. Except for improvements to the flint wheel, hinges, and modifications in case finishes, his original design remains virtually unchanged today. The Lifetime Guarantee that accompanies every Zippo metal product still guarantees that “It works or we fix it free”
George G. Blaisdell remained as head of his company until he passed away in 1978.
Build your product with integrity .... stand behind it 100% and success will follow.
George G Blaisdell.