Prototype Zippo Pipe Lighter?

 Hopefully the title of this blog post has caught your attention!  This is a very unusual Zippo lighter that I purchased this past July at the Bradford Zippo Lighter Club Swap Meet.  A gentleman approached my table with some lighters that he was looking to sell.  Most were used and this pipe lighter at first glance appeared to be a common example.  I try to always take a quick look at the insert just to make sure it is correct.  Upon opening the lighter I exclaimed, "That's different!" The gentleman went on to tell me that he once worked for a company that made deliveries to Zippo Manufacturing.  The Zippo employees were dismayed to see him lighting his pipe with a Nimrod pipe lighter!  On one visit a Zippo employee gave him this pipe lighter to keep and use.  Which he did use for many years.

Now onto the unique features of the lighter.  The most obvious is that the insert has been modified.  It appears that a standard insert was used and that middle section on both sides of the chimney has been removed.  The quality of the work doesn't look like someone did it out in their garage...there is a precision to the modification.  The second unusual fact is that the lighter case is dated from 1980.  The Zippo Pipe lighter was introduced to the public in 1982, so this case predates the release by as much as 2 years.  So what are your thoughts? Prototype? Homemade mod?  Please let us know in the comments section!




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  • Zippo often spent months and even years developing their products. The etch & paint graphic of the pipe is real and correct, so there isn’t any other way to explain it being on a case made in 1980.

    Chuck Riley
  • I love the story but I think there might be a red flag. The case is a marked pipe lighter case two years before the release of such a lighter? A plain case would seem to fit the narrative better.

    Brian Hardy

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