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During WWII Zippo stopped production of lighters available to the public to concentrate on the war effort. This was due to the shortage of brass and other metals.
The US govt. purchased all Zippo lighters for the men and women at war.
These WWII lighters were made of steel, then coated with a heavy black paint to minimize corrosion.
They had 3 or 4 barrel hinges, 14 hole chimneys.
The first models made in 1942 had flat bottoms,
The second models (1943-45) were very rounded on the top and bottom of the cases.
The Pat # and logo on the cases were difficult to see, due to the heavy paint used.
This lighter was made in 1942, it features a rare unmarked steel insert and rare Pat. #.
During this time period, Zippo were stamping the lighters in "error", using Pat. # 203695.
It should have been 2032695.
These can be easily spotted by the presence of the # mark after the word Pat. on the bottom.
I have also observed that the lighters with this "error" base stamp have a unique insert.
The insert is different from others used from 1943-45' in that the 1942 has no Pat. # markings on it.
Also, the welded seam, under the cam, is wrapped right over left,
as opposed to the more common left over right.
The lighter on the right was sent back to Zippo to have the emblems re-attached in 1964.
There were no other repairs done to the lighter, as the documentation shows.
1943 Black Crackle
In my opinion, this unique display came from the CEO.. of ZIPPO
I purchased this from the Grandson of Mr Bill Van Buren Mesick. Bill was partnered with his Father, Mr. Herbert Van Buren Mesick. Herbert met with George Blaisdell in the 30s, and agreed to sell the new ZIPPO product in his Cigar Shop.
All these were displayed at the Cigar/tobacco shop of "Mesick & Mesick".
Curiously, there is also a letter addressed to ZIPPO, asking ZIPPO to repair or replace a damaged lighter. The only way for this letter to get in this collection, would have been as a gift directly from ZIPPO Mfg. to Mr Mesick.
Mesick & Mesick were one of the first distributors for ZIPPO lighters, from as early as the 1930s, and were still prominent figures until the 80s, when Bill Mesick retired.
The Mesick's had all these items suspended in acrylic,
This one has a 1942 4 barrel ZIPPO, with a military logo.
This lighter is one of the most desirable lighters in my collection.
Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent, and author of many wartime books.
Pyle wrote feature columns during WWII for Scripps-Howard Newspapers.
He had the ability to convey the feelings , stories, and emotions of the soldiers, in words that the other soldiers could understand.
George Blaisdell and Pyle became friends through correspondence, but never actually met.
Pyle had written to George Blaisdell on numerous occasions and had said,
“ Getting a hold of a ZIPPO, is like getting a hold of a hunk of gold,” or,
“ It’s the one lighter all soldiers know and covet”.
Pyle would often order Zippos in lots of 50-300 to distribute amongst the men he spoke with during his time in battle.
Blaidell was saddened by the news of Pyle's death and had a small number of lighters made to commemorate the date.
The lighters were sent to the USS Cabot, which was the last vessel Pyle was on before his death on April 18 1945.
The lighters were to be distributed to the crew that Pyle had had a close relationship with.
The exact number of lighters made is a bit of a mystery, but it is in the area of only 200.
To have one in unused condition, such as this is very rare.
This lighter was given to Mr. Orville Abbott , a co-pilot on a B-29 bomber.
Which was involved in the Tokyo bombing on March 9-10, 1945.
Very interesting story behind Mr. Abbotts WWII career.
" In Memory, Ernie Pyle 1945"
It's rare to find Black Crackle lighters with any factory engravings done by ZIPPO.
This is one from Bell Aircraft.
Made in early 1942, it has a 4 barrel hinge,
and a unmarked steel insert.
The 42 case is different from the regular WWII Black Crackle lighter.
The base and lids are relatively flat in comparison
to the later, more common 43-45 models.
The inserts on this model are NOT stamped with the patent #s.
First model WWII "Black Crackle"
This WWII zippo was custom decorated in Korea,
using traditional artwork called "Nageon Chilgi"
"Najeon” means mother-of-pearl, and “Chilgi” refers to lacquerware.
The Abalone shell is first carved, then applied to the case.
Layers of lacquer are then applied. The artist would then hand polish the entire surface revealing the Abalone shell underneath.
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