15 Rare Vintage Lighters Worth Money: Identification & Values

Owing a lavish lighter was a style statement in the bygone era. But although the days of smoking in style have faded, those old, vintage lighters are still considered precious—thanks to their unique craftsmanship and the stories they hold.

If you’re looking for such a valuable, luxury vintage lighter to expand your collection, this article is just for you! Here, I’m going to unravel some valuable vintage lighters worth their weight in gold and tricks to spot them!

Key Takeaways

  • Luxury lighters from brands like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dunhill, & Ronson are extremely popular and pricey. 
  • Signed and marked rare branded lighters can cost up to thousands of dollars if in mint condition and even more if unused. 
  • Among others, vintage Art Deco and Mid-Century lighters are most sought after by antique collectors. 
  • A unique Chimpanzee-shaped table lighter from Fabergé was sold at a whopping price of $200K.

List of 15 Rare & Valuable Vintage Lighters to Find!

Got thousands of dollars to spend on your antique collection? Here are 10 exquisite vintage lighters that you can own today!

1. Alfred Dunhill Aquarium Table Lighter 

The unique table lighter is one of the most popular and attractive ones from Dunhill. You can spot it with the beautiful aquarium painting on its body.

Notable Features to Spot: 

  • Original marked Dunhill Lift Arm lighter from the 1950s collection
  • Intricate carving & lucite painting 
  • Miniature aquarium on lucite panels on both sides as well curved edges 
Estimated Cost $8,000
Manufacturing Year1950s
MaterialBrass, Lucite
Item Height7mm

2. Vintage Ronson DeLight 14k Yellow Gold Lighter 

Popular and sought-after for its 14K yellow gold body, this Ronson lighter looks stylish due to its small thin body. And the shine of pure gold makes it a luxury to own!

Valuable Features to Look For: 

  • Decorated with black paint 
  • “14K,” “Ronson De-Light, Patented (with No.) marked at the bottom 
  • Ronson De-Light, Patented 127
Estimated Cost $2,000 – $3,000
Manufacturing Year1929
Material14K Yellow Gold

3. 4 Barrel Art Deco Kendall Zippo Lighter 

This patented Zippo lighter is built out of a rectangular steel tube with a soldered base. It has four barrel hinges, which means it’s one of the earliest of Zippo’s models.

Key Identification Features: 

  • Rare 1930s model with whole-case oil can
  • Two slanted lines incised on the left bottom and top right corner (on the cap)
  • “KENDALL THE 2000 MILE OIL” painted in red with the Kendall logo
  • “ZIPPO MFG. CO. BRADFORD.PA,” PAT NO.,” and MADE IN USA” marked at the bottom
Estimated Cost $1,500 – $2,000
Manufacturing Year1930 – 36
MaterialSteel (Black Crackle Finished) 

4. 1950s Hermes Gold Plated Lipstick Lighter in Original Box

This two-in-one lipstick lighter from Hermes is undoubtedly a rare find. And more than its gold-plated body, it’s popular for its use by German-American actress Marlene Dietrich in her films in the 1950s.

Key Identification Features: 

  • A beautiful ribbed cylindrical brass body with a shiny gold-plated finish
  • Ingenious mechanism 
  • A carved circular thumb ring 
  • Patented by Jean Feuera in 1950 in France 
Estimated Cost $1,500
Brand/MakerHermes by La Nationale
OriginGeneva, Switzerland 
Manufacturing Year1950s
MaterialBrass, Gold-Plated
Item Height6.6 cm

5. Antique Nassau Sterling Silver Lighter 

An antique lighter from 1905, this Nassau lighter is valuable because it’s over a century old. Besides, it’s one of the earliest automatic lighters and is made of Sterling silver, making it worth a lot.

Special Features: 

  • Features the classic, automatic push-button mechanism
  • A lid hinged to one side of the lighter
  • “Sterling” and “NASSAU PAT. DEC 26. 1905,” and the brand logo carved on the base 
  • Overlapping cursive letters engraved on the front face 
Estimated Cost $700 – $1,000
Manufacturing Year1905
MaterialSterling Silver

6. Antique AKO Lift Arm Sterling Silver Watch Lighter 

A multipurpose antique lighter, this AKO model features a clock on its body. You can also identify it with its black porcelain side panels.

Key Features to Look For: 

  • Hinged lid with octagonal clock window on the front 
  • Brand name “AKO” marked on the back on the lift arm
  • Lined groovy pattern on the body
  • A single-slotted round wheel at the bottom
Estimated Cost $1,000
Manufacturing Year1920s
MaterialSterling Silver

7. Ronson 1920s Banjo Lighter 

One of the earliest and Ronson’s most unique models, this Banjo lighter features a body shape that looks similar to a guitar’s body. It’s a valuable item being a patented model with a patented automatic mechanism.

Key Features to Identify: 

  • Automatic lighter with Ronson’s patented mechanism
  • “Ronson Lighter. The Art Metal Works” marking engraved on the snuffer
  • The brand name and logo marking on the inside of the original box lid
Estimated Cost $500 – $600
Manufacturing Year1920s

8. Chinese Turtle & Dragon Table Lighter 

This lighter looks like it’s built on the top shell of a tortoise. Featuring intricate Chinese lettering and designs, the shape of this 900 silver lighter grabs the eyes of collectors.

Notable Features to Identify: 

  • Intricate snake-skin-shaped carving with Chinese marking on the lid
  • Turtle-shaped base with details silver work
  • Chinese letters and Chinese dragon border on the body
  • Signed Chinese markings
Estimated Cost $500 – $700
Manufacturing Year1920s – 30s
Material900 Silver
Item Height13 cm

9. Ronson Art Deco Rondelight Junior Table Lighter

This lighter is so unique that it may not look like a lighter at first glance. This Ronson vintage Art Deco piece can be spotted with its round black enameled body and flint mechanism.

Valuable Features to Look For: 

  • Flint Table Lighter by Ronson featuring 
  • Round-shaped lighter with lift-arm 
  • Enameled black ball with chrome accents
Estimated Cost $500 – $600
StyleTable Lighter
Manufacturing Year1929
Material14K Yellow Gold

10. Rare Antique Ed’Argy Pre-Flint Lighter

This friction lighter from Ed’Argy is an antique piece! Patented in France and England, it works on the flint mechanism and has an extractable activator.

Notable Features to Identify: 

  • Pre-Flint Lighter with sulfur or amorce caps 
  • Extractable activator
  • “ED’ARGY,” Bte S.G.D.G,” “EN FRANCE ANGLETERRE,” & “ET” inscribed on the top
  • Very detailed carving on the top (also on the cap)
Estimated Cost $400 – $500 
Manufacturing Year1850s
Material900 Silver
Item Height13 cm

5 Most Pricey Antique Lighters Ever Sold!

A Vintage Marked Zeppo Lighter

Apart from the models above, there are a few more extremely rare antique lighters! And for these, collectors didn’t hesitate to pay even over a hundred thousand dollars!

Rare LightersKey FeaturesTime PeriodEstimated Price (Auctioned/Sold)
Fabergé  Chimpanzee Table LighterSculptural lighter in the shape of a seated Chimpanzee, Made of fine silver, Intricate & realistic details Early 20th century$200,000
The Original Zippo LighterOne-handed lighter, Features a metal case & a wind-resistant chimney 1933$37,000
Gene Allen’s My Fair Lady LighterWrap gift for Gene Allen’s film, My Fair Lady, Ribbed body made of pure Gold, Film’s name engraved on top1960s$26,000
Signed Baseball LighterLighter made with a signed baseball body, Related to Japanese Tour, Signed by popular Yankees outfielder, Babe Ruth1934$8,500
Elvis Presley’s Cigarette LighterGifted by the Presley to a former maid, Displays an ornate diamond-shaped comb pattern, Made of Golden-colored metal1960s$4,600

6 Important Factors to Identify a Valuable Vintage Lighter

Antique Lighter with Hinged Cap

1. Age & Markings 

Tracing the age of an old lighter is the key one of the most effective ways to find out if it’s vintage and worthy. You can date an old lighter with the help of manufacturing years, serial numbers, and patent number markings.

Here are the spots you can find the numbers: 

  • Bottom of the lighter
  • Inside the cap of the lighter
  • Either side 

Besides, lighters were not actually manufactured in mass production before the 1920s. And that’s why vintage lighters dating before this period are seen as valuable collectibles today!

The font and style of the brand’s name or logo can also help you trace the old lighter’s age. For instance, Zippo’s name logo was different in 1933-1954 from the one from 1955-1979 and 1980 – 2011.

2. Condition (Functioning)

If an antique lighter is still in mint condition, it can fetch decent returns. But if it’s an unopened or unused vintage model, most probably inside its original box with all the labels intact, it can be worth even more.

On the other hand, if the vintage lighter has been used for years, bears dents or scratches, or has broken or missing parts, it loses its significance and value.

3. Luxury Brands

Silver Lighter with Carved Body

If you want really expensive and precious vintage lighters, look for these prominent vintage brands:

  • Ronson (1886): Starting the lighter production in 1913, the company is known for its models like Wonderliter, Banjo, Comet, and Varaflame. 
  • Dunhill (1893): Dunhill started making lighters after the success of its motoring accessories. Its aquarium lighters are one of the most demanded models.
  • Zippo (1932): Though not for antique ones, this company is popular for its wind-resistant and US Forces-partnered lighters. 
  • Dupont (1800s): This brand is known for its vintage high-end lighters with the distinctive “flint and wheel” mechanism.

Lastly, unique vintage lighters from Hermes, ED’ARGY, Nassau, Colibri, Scripto, and Evans Case Company are also worth a lot.

4. Type of the Lighters (Mechanism) 

Since the invention of lighters, four main types of lighters have existed, which you can identify as follows:

  • Striker or Flint Lighter: The oldest lighter type, it works with a flint (a strip of ferrocerium) which is rubbed on a rough steel surface to generate the spark. 
  • Manual-Striker: These ones feature a small handle that spins the flint wheel to create sparking and lit the fueled wicks or gas. 
  • Semi-Automatic Lighters: Mostly operating on gas, this type has a valve to allow the ignition gas to flow to the burning duct. Then, it has a button that sparks the fire. 
  • Automatic Lighters: These are an upgrade to semi-automatic lighters. It only operates with a single button that not only opens the gas valve but also creates the spark by spinning the wheel. 

5. Limited-Edition Models or Rarity

An Old & Unique Red Lighter

If an old lighter is one of the special limited-edition collections, it’s likely worth a lot. You can identify your lighter as rare if

  • It features a unique design or pattern which wasn’t used again.
  • It was owned or used by a famous celebrity or actor.
  • It is a promotional item for a specific company or branded collection.
  • It was used in Hollywood.
  • It was given as VIP gifts or prizes./mementos. (e.g., Gene Allen’s 1960s Lighter for My Fair Lady)

Look for a serial number on the vintage lighters, as the limited edition models are usually marked/engraved with serial numbers.

6. Materials

Vintage lighters composed of exquisite materials, like brass, silver (sterling), and gold, are always quite valuable. But in the case of Gold and Silver, always look for purity marks and other hallmarks.

If you’re into collecting old lighters, this guide is your one-stop solution for identifying and picking a highly valuable one! And if you’re looking for rare vintage lamps or need help with antique oil lamp identification, I’ll be glad to help you!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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