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The Ronson Debonair Lighter

by Larry Tolkin

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Ronson Debonair LighterRonson Debonair LighterThe dictionary definition of “debonair” is: sophisticated-refined-suave and elegant. The Ronson Debonair lighter design is certainly all of these and more.

The Debonair is one of my favorite Ronson models and was quite different from similar Art Metal Works Ronson designs of the period. Its square body design with recessed thumb press and snuffer were a departure from the 1927 delight mechanism. Louis V. Aronson first designed the Debonair in the late 1920’s. The design patent was applied for in 1929 (see LVA design patent), but earlier versions are shown in this article.

Ronson Debonair LighterThere are at least 5 versions of the Debonair, each being highly prized by Ronson collectors. The Debonair came in chrome, gold plate, rhodium (platinum) plate, and nickel silver plated versions. Some had engine turned patterns, leather wraps or art deco lacquer enamel designs.

Ronson Debonair LighterThe Debonair rectangular mechanism was also utilized by Ronson on their first combination cigarette case with lighter named the “Lytacase”. The Lytacase was first introduced in 1930 (see LVA utility patent) and came in chrome, gold plate, and rhodium finishes with engine turned, lacquer enamel, or mother of pearl designs.

Ronson Debonair LighterThe Debonair is unique with a recessed wick, built up, diamond cut out windscreen and automatic thumb press mechanism. An early gold plate prototype version features an unusual XO cut out windscreen with stepped mechanism design. Another early prototype features one fuel screw that unscrews part of base to reveal flint screw.

Ronson Debonair LighterThe gold plate Debonair with center leather wrap is a rare version not having the diamond cut out windscreen. For regular production models, early 1930’s versions feature wide fuel and flint screws while mid 1930’s versions have small fuel and flint screws.

Ronson Debonair LighterDebonair lighters have patent numbers listed on the underside for a 1917 cerium flint process as well as the LVA 1926 Ronson Banjo Automatic.

The Debonair and Lytacase models are quite showy and two of the most important Ronson deco lighter models. Make sure to “sophisticate” your collection with at least one if not many. The Ronson Debonair and Lytacase lighters will increase the value of your vintage lighter collection.

Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter
rhodium engine turned column design rhodium and goldplate lytacase rare single screw version with leather wrap modernistic deco lytacase
Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter Ronson Debonair Lighter
diagonal deco enamel designs rhodium skyscraper engine turned design modernistic deco enamel designs engine turned deco enamel designs

Photos by Larry Tolkin

cover shot of Blaze newsletter

Larry Tolkin's article has also appeared in Issue 122, November, 2010 of BLAZE - the quarterly newsletter of The Lighter Club of Great Britain -

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