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Vintage Lighter Books

Overview:

I have (or have had) all of the listed books and the reviews are my own personal opinions.

Some of the books listed have strong faults and for a lot of the information, they must be referenced skeptically; the larger part of the information presented is correct, but there are generally enough glaring errors to call the whole content into question. Now, the production quality is generally great - it is only the content that is suspect. It must be said that this is still better than the ones that have plenty of pictures and little or no substance to go with them.

Having said that, it must also be remembered that these books were largely published in the mid-to-late 1990s and there simply wasn't anything else out there. They did fill a vacuum and, even today, they are about all there is. There is a great deal of good information that may be gleaned from the books as a whole, but one must be ever wary of taking everything as fact because there are just too many errors.

Most of these books also purport to be price guides. Possibly they were relevant prior to the wide usage of the Internet and, particularly, eBay which is now the ultimate pricing authority on almost anything!

Many of these books are out of publication and can only be found used. Some of the prices asked are outrageous - and every one can be had at below the original selling price by doing a little searching and having a little patience to find it.

-Frank Dutton, Vintage Cigarette Lighters

     

The Big Book Of Cigarette Lighters Id & Values

Available new on amazon.com $29.95 and used around $15.00

Art Deco Chrome - by Jim Linz

192 pages / 2007 / Paperback

I wanted to find out more about Art Deco and this was a good book about Art Deco in general and consumer items of chrome in the Art Deco style. There are some good catalog page reprints and lots of excellent pictures. I have found it very helpful in working with collecting Art Deco ashtrays. It also has prices - obviously not reflective of today's market. As a Schiffer book, I look at it skeptically because of the general unreliability of other books I've seen from them; this one seems to be well above average, though I'm certainly no expert. I'd recommend it in general and particularly for ashtrays - a limited but good section on them and also a few lighters.

Lighters: Accendini - by Stefano Bisconcini

  • ISBN 13: 9780756763466
    ISBN 10: 0756763460
  • Publisher San Gottardo
  • Language Italian / English (I believe)
  • 339 Pages
  • Published 1984

I am trying to find this book; hopefully at a reasonable price. If you know of a copy available, please contact me! Not to be confused with the smaller edition published in 1997 with 140 pages - Lighters: Gli Accendini - I already have it and it is listed below and reviewed.

fdutton@toledo-bend.com

 

Lighters: Accendini

The Big Book Of Cigarette Lighters Id & Values

Out of print but easily findable from $20 - $30.

The Big Book Of Cigarette Lighters Identification & Values - by James Flanagan

205 pages / 2005 / Hardback

The pictures are good and there are lots of them and typically captioned with some information, date, and price range - though, of course, these are 'guesstimated' 2005 prices; price and rarity changed a lot with the ubiquitousness of eBay. Some tobacco accessories are also shown along with some countertop displays of lighters.

On the down side, there is little apparent organization to the lighters and no index, so if you want to find something, you just have to search page-by-page. Some items are duplicated. There are obvious errors in lighter names and descriptions and the dates are far from correct in many cases. Most of the lighters, pictures, and mistakes have been recycled into this book from Flanagan's previous books (reviewed below).

Cigarette Lighters - by George Fischler and Stuart Schneider

196 pages / March 1996 / Hardback

This book is organized alphabetically so it is pretty easy to find anything you are looking for. Pictures are large and of great quality. The lighters covered run the gambit from common to rare, so it is a book worthwhile as a reference for any collector. Virtually every lighter is dated and has some accompanying information about it - in general, the dating of the lighters is pretty accurate. There is also some information on many of the companies that produced lighters. The book is fairly well indexed, as well, so it is an easy book to use.

Scattered throughout are the occasional print ads or counter display of lighters and this is a nice addition. The pricing, conveniently located with the picture, is of questionable value, of course, but still something of an indicator of relative values - at least as they seemed in 1996. Overall a nice book well worth having. I guess I'm a little surprised that Schiffer would publish this book: it has more information and generally accurate information and that is well beyond their standard and just makes their other books look bad.

Cigarette Lighters

Out of print but easily findable from $20 - $25.

The general availability and very reasonable price make this book well worth having.

Collectible Lighters - by Juan Manuel Clark

384 pages / May 2003 / Paperback

384 seems like a lot of pages, but when you consider they are not full 'book size' and each page covers a single lighter, it isn't so much.

There is a brief introduction about lighters in general and their history, then it is down to business with the lighters. The pictures are good, as is the text accompanying them; the vast majority of the lighters have no information that will help date them. I'm not enthusiastic about the book being divided by categories of lighters rather than alphabetically but the index is helpful (as opposed to really good) in finding things.

Collecting Cigarette Lighters - by Neil S. Wood

190 pages / © 1994 / Paperback

This book starts out with about 75 pages of catalog cuts and advertising reproductions in black and white. The good news is that they are all dated to provide good reference material. The bad news is that the print quality ranges from excellent to terrible with some looking like 5th generation Xerox copies; overall, though, very good. There are also some color reproductions of catalog pages and they are good - and dated! A few pictures of countertop lighter displays are also included and these are nice with mediocre reproduction of the photos of the displays.

The weak point in the book is the lighter pictures. While there are a few dates (generaly incorrect), mostly the pictures are barely even captioned. Most lighters are in group shots and the idea is that you look at a nearly unreadable list in the back of the book for the shot and the lighter in it to get the price; ill-conceived at best. The value of this book is in the catalog cuts, advertisements, and counter displays included.

Collecting Cigarette Lighters

Out of print and not so easy to find, but occasionally available at a reasonable price - try eBay.

Collecting Cigarette Lighters, Vol. 2

Out of print but not difficult to find at a very low price

Collecting Cigarette Lighters, Vol. 2: A Price Guide - by Neil S. Wood

152 pages / September 1995 / Paperback

This second version of the book noted above has the vast majority of the lighters pictured individually - a big improvement. The price guide is still in the back, but is of little consequence anyway. There is a dearth of information about the lighters; mostly just pictures with relatively inconsequential captions that gives the look of something just thrown together. A small minority of the pictures have dates to go with them - but the dates are generally inaccurate to wildly wrong.

There are a few advertisements and catalog pages included and they are dated,but the reproduction quality is mediocre.

Collector's Guide to Cigarette Lighters - by James Flanagan

126 pages / © 1995 / Paperback

Generally speaking, this is a really good book with lots of lighter pictures across a broad range. Virtually all have prices (somewhat irrelevant) and dating. Other books force you to look at an impossible table in the rear of the book for prices - this one doesn't do that.

I (a newbie to collecting) spotted some rather obvious errors in the book and, for me, that calls into question the things I don't know about in it. Most of the dates given for lighters are either incorrect or wildly inaccurate. An example of glaring errors are the lighters pictured on page 72 where 2 late 1930s Bowers lighters are not named by manufacturer and are claimed as being circa 1918 (Bowers only started making lighters in about 1930).

It is nice that a number of advertisements are also reprinted. However, since they aren't dated, they are of little value for research into the age of a model or style of lighter. The book is divided into sections for types of lighters and there is no index at all - so, if you want to look back and find something, it is a page-by-page process and that is a huge failing if you're trying to find out something about a particular lighter.

Collector's Guide to Cigarette Lighters

Out of print and not easy to find, but occasionally available and usually inexpensive.

Collector's Guide to Cigarette Lighters Book

Out of print but not difficult to find at a range of prices - low to high.

Collector's Guide to Cigarette Lighters Book 2 - by James Flanagan

136 pages / January 1996 / Paperback

This second volume of the book noted above is very similar to the first one. The layout and approach is the same - just different pictures. Again, dates are extremely unreliable; for example, on page 28, a Camera Lite 'spy camera lighter' is dated as circa 1940s when, in fact, these were introduced in the mid-1950s.

There is still no index so finding any given lighter is difficult at best. However, the print advertisements reproduced here are dated, so it gives them and the book some extra value for research purposes.

The Evans Book - by Larry Clayton

166 pages / October 1998 / Paperback

The book contains many excellent pictures of beautiful lighters - along with a smattering of other Evans products. As a picture book, it is great. There is also a very informative history of the Evans company. There is some detailed information on a few specific products. However, for anyone wanting to learn about Evans lighters, the book becomes nearly worthless beyond that point. There is no information on the various lines of lighters produced by Evans or the date ranges during which they were produced. It would also be helpful to examine somewhat the difference between various lines - the Roller Bearing, Trig-A-Lite, and "Spitfire", for example.

The Evans Book

Available new and used at Amazon.com

Same book as above - another cover version.

-continuing review-

There are quite a number of ads and catalog pages shown. While many are dated and provide valuable reference, more than half of them are not dated and have little reference value for dating lighters unless one does the additional research of finding dates for some of the lighters pictured in order to infer the dating of the pages themselves.

This book may be the best evidence that for Schiffer Books For Collectors, all one needs is some really nice pictures. Then make up prices and dates and you have a book through a company with no publishing or accuracy standards whatsoever.

The Evans Book

The Handbook of Vintage Cigarette Lighters

Available new & used at Amazon.com

The Golden Age of Cigarette Lighters - by Ira Pilossof & Stuart Schneider

192 pages / August 2003/ Hardback

This is one of the best lighter books. I did find some discrepancies, but fewer than most of the other books - very few, in fact; had the publisher used an editor for the book, most of the problems would have been eliminated. As with most of these books, there is no index.

There is a small section covering a number of lighter manufacturers and a good glossary at the back than can be helpful, as well.

In an interesting approach, the lighters are ordered by country of manufacture and then by manufacturer name. A good book and well worth having.

The Handbook of Vintage Cigarette Lighters - by Stuart Schneider & Ira Pilossof

173 pages / September 1999 / Paperback

This is one of my favorite lighter books simply because it is organized alphabetically so it is possible to find something without searching every page (as is the case with most of the others).

The book presents some good company information on major players such as Evans, Dunhill, Ronson, etc. The pictures are good and almost without exception there is informative text accompanying each one and dates for the lighters pictures. The lighters range from old and rare to newer and more common so it presents the right range of lighters to inform a novice collector and remind more advanced collectors.

There are a number of glaring errors which make one skeptical about the information quality overall - BUT, this book is about as good as it gets and, in general, the dating of the lighters seems reasonably accurate.

The Handbook of Vintage Cigarette Lighters

Available new and used from Amazon.com

The Legend of the Lighter

Out of print, but not too difficult to find new and used copies moderately priced.

The Legend of the Lighter - by Ad Van Weert

192 pages / June 1995 / Hardback

This is my favorite of all lighter books I have seen. It is the sort of book that anyone could read and enjoy because it does such a great job of covering the subject of the very beginnings of cigarette lighters through to the most modern lighters. Given that the lighters pictured are drawn from the Dutch Lighter Museum Foundation, it's not surprising there should be a great selection of wonderful lighters - old and newer.

It is also an excellent reference book, though there is little organization within it that makes referencing it easy. The index is OK, but nothing to brag about. The single very frustrating aspect of the book is that lighters are typically grouped for pictures and on any two-page spread of text and pictures, the captions are placed irregularly and, if you're not familiar with the lighters, it is very difficult to match a caption to a given lighter in a picture. I'm no expert, but I didn't find any glaring errors jumping out at me as in some of the other books.

Lighters: Gli Accendini - by Stefano Bisconcini

English/Italian Edition - 144 pages / October 1997 / Paperback

Overall, this small size book covers about one lighter per page. A section at the end of the book covers some of the history and companies involved in writing it for cigarette lighters and this section is very helpful and useful.

A nice touch is noting the country of production of the various lighters and the production date. Every caption is written in both Italian and /english in this particular version of the book. Having dates for the lighters makes this a worthwhile reference to help determine the age of a lighter.

This book is a scaled down version of its predecessor (Lighters: Accendini - 340 pages - 1984) which is considered a 'Bible' for lighter collectors - but impossible to find.

Lighters: Gli Accendini

Out of print but pretty easily found at very reasonable prices.

Ronson, The World's Greatest Lighter: Wick Lighters 1913-2000

I've noted used copies available for figures in the $150. range; new copies are still available from the author occasionally on eBay for about $35.00 with shipping.

Ronson, The World's Greatest Lighter: Wick Lighters 1913-2000 - by Urban K. Cummings

424 pages / 2000 / Paperback

This book is pretty much all business; no advertisements for old Ronsons, no company history (widely obtainable elsewhere), just the lighters and information specific to them. All pictures are black & white and a single lighter model is covered on every page. There are details as to the years of production and the styles made for each model. While the prices don't mean much, the author's classifications of various models and or styles within a model being common, rare, very rare, etc. are worthwhile.

It would have been nice if the author had provided some definition about how the models differ, and there are a few errors that I spotted. Overall, though, you couldn't ask for a better reference.

Smokerama - by Philip Collins

132 pages / August 1992 / Paperback

This is a really nicely done book that is interesting to go through. For research purposes (e.g. dating items) it leaves much to be desired as so many of the interesting photos and items have no date reference. While there are some lighters in the book, there aren't enough to justify getting the book for the lighters. Given the easy availability and low price , it is an enjoyable book to have for anyone interested in any phase of Tobacciana.

Smokerama

Out of print but readily available at very reasonable prices.

Smoking Collectibles

The book is out of print, but not difficult to find very inexpensively.

Smoking Collectibles - By Neil Wood

202 pages - October 1994 / Paperback

This is an interesting book on smoking related paraphernalia. There are many advertisements and catalog pages - most of which are identified by year - those that aren't are of no more than casual value because they can't be used to date anything. Unfortunately, far too many items pictured are just pictures - without corresponding dates they provide little more than nostalgic interest. There is some information on lighters, but not enough to provoke buying the book for that reason alone. The book is very weak if you're researching, but pleasant for a general interest in Tobacciana.

Warman's Zippo Lighters Field Guide - by Dana & Robin Baumgartner

512 pages / June 2006 / Paperback

While 500+ pages may seem a lot, it is a 'Field Guide' size book, so the pages aren't that big and typically have 1 lighter per page. There is the obligatory history of Zippo, of course. There is some good information on dating Zippo lighters, but not really any more than is found on the Zippo web page - aside from extra photos of the bottoms of a number of various Zippo models. More extensive research on the Internet led to more detailed nuances for dating and the majority of those are presented on this website. The book is almost entirely a collection of pictures of Zippo lighters and the 2006 'guesstimation' of their worth.

Since there are really only a very few actual models of Zippos, the book deals with the various 'cover styles' and advertising appearing on the lighters. Of course, the book only scratches the surface of all the varieties available.

Warman's Zippo Lighters

Out of print and not terribly difficult to find, but typically a little pricey.