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Home | Zippo Cigarette Lighters | Plain Zippo Lighters
Zippo Ship Emblem Scrimshaw Cigarette Lighter
Product Code: Z359This range of Zippo lighters was inspired by the scrimshaw work carried out by sailors in the 19th century, to while away long sea voyages. They used knives to carve intricate seafaring designs into whale tooth and bone. This high polished chrome Zippo lighter is adorned with an ivory coloured plaque showing a tall ship rounding a headland on top of which is a lighthouse. A really great gift for lovers of antiques. For more about scrimshaw, see the bottom of this page.
Read on to find out more about Zippo lighters and why we like them.
Zippo was created in 1932 by George Blaisdell, an oilman who watched a friend struggling to light a woman’s cigarette on a breezy day. In the small town of Bradford, Philadelphia, Blaisdell tinkered away, and built a small chimney around a wick to produce a windproof lighter. He gave it the famous lifetime guarantee and called the company Zippo.
Zippo's first location was a small machine shop on the second floor of the Richerson & Pryde garage on Bolyston Street in downtown Bradford, Philadelphia. The Zippo Windproof Lighter sign originally painted on the multi-paned window of the shop has become a symbol of Zippo's early days.
During World War II Blaisdell, a very smart promoter, shipped hundreds of Zippos to generals and war correspondents. Word of the lighter's durability and dependability spread, and the U.S. government ordered every lighter the Zippo Manufacturing Company could produce between 1943 and 1945.
When Blaisdell died in 1978 Zippo went to his two daughters, Harriett Wick and Sarah Dorn. They knew the business quite well having grown up stuffing cotton wicks into Zippos. Today their children work for the company too.
Save a few minor changes in the flint wheel and case finishes, the Zippo remains nearly exactly as George Blaisdell created it over 70 years ago. Today, the Zippo brand makes tape measures, knives, money clips, writing instruments and key holders, all engravable and personalizable to the owner. The American-made quality and Lifetime Guarantee makes the Zippo lighter a valuable collector's item around the world, with collectors' clubs in England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and of course, the United States.
Scrimshaw is the name given to the wide variety of objects made or decorated by people involved with the whaling industry, and also to the process of making them. Most scrimshaw was done on sperm whaling voyages between ca. 1835 and 1870, as the long cruises required to produce a full cargo provided the most opportunities for pastimes such as scrimshaw. New Englanders dominated this industry so most scrimshaw has
American associations and is in the U.S.A.
Scrimshaw materials were generally the sea mammal products which the men readily encountered. Various ivories from teeth and tusks (especially walrus), baleen (whalebone) and skeletal bone were used, perhaps with wood, horn, metal and even shells, to make a huge variety of useful and decorative things. However, most common were the teeth of sperm whales (whale ivory), decorated with pictorial scribework resembling engraving.
The sperm whale is the only great whale in the order Odontoceti, the large group of toothed whales which includes porpoises and dolphins. Sperm whales, which prefer warm deep oceans, were not exploited until the early 18th century. Sperm whaling became the major industry for Yankee whalers although there was a significant London based fleet in the early 19th century, and later fleets in Australia.
Sperm whales develop some 23 pairs of large, roughly conical ivory teeth in the mandible which fit into sockets in the upper jaw. After extraction from the tough gum the teeth were filed or scraped smooth and carefully polished with shark skin, pumice or wood ash. The chosen design could be drawn or traced on to the surface. Some pictures were copied by pricking the surface of the tooth through a template, held or pasted to the surface. Pictures of women in particular are thus often outlined with dots or crosses, but these are rarely seen on ships or whaling scenes most of which seem to have been done freehand.
Surprisingly, a careful examination has revealed that most scrimshaw engravings were done with a very fine sharp blade. Occasionally a fine point was used but evidence of a graving tool is extremely rare. Sometimes a stipple of dots was used in places and a few designs were entirely stippled. Occasionally other marks such as deep pits or triangular picks are found.
The engraving was heightened by rubbing in pigment, usually black from soot or lamp-black and oil. Sometimes other colours were used in addition and referred to as polychrome. Red is the most common, on flags, to indicate the firing of cannon and as blood from injured whales. A greenish-blue, probably Prussian blue, is fairly common for flags and the sea. Women's clothes were the most likely to be coloured, and green, brown, yellow and orange are also found.
The mandibles (lower jaw bones) of the great whales were also a popular scrimshaw material. This bone could be sawn, bent, polished, carved and engraved and so was fashioned into dozens of things from purely functional tools to engraved plaques.
Price: £18.90 (£15.75 ex VAT)
(Approx. 20.44 USD US Dollars, 17.32 EUR Euros, 2,238.07 JPY Japan Yen)
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