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mtnman

Field Gear - ZIPPOS Books - BEST??

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I am starting my field gear collection with zippo's from Vietnam and World War II. Can anyone give me guidance regarding the best reference books for zippo lighters with the war orientation World War II through Vietnam?? Thank you so much for your time and if I'm in the wrong place moderator, please move me to an appropriate section. Blessings in your collecting gentleman

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There are no good books on either subject, unless you can find the Japanese Zippo publications from the 90's, I believe it is a three or four volume set.

The only other book, that I know of is the Schiffer publication on Vietnam Zippos and the majority of what is shown in it are copies made within the last 30 years in Vietnam but the author thought were real.


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Can't thank you enough Bob, I just picked up my first one that you had pointed out. Bob, I guess the Zippos you were talking about that are made in the last 30 years, were lighters that these counterfeiters in Vietnam picked up, making sure that they were made from the time of Vietnam war and then they would simply carve them up and give them fake patina? I guess the vast majority of the ones sold on eBay or fakes? And Bob, as far as dating the lighters, you know the technical data needed to identify the make of the lighter itself, what book should I get for that or will these books you guided me to give me that information? Thank you so much

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Just to add to Bob’s comments there are usually several indicators of a fake Vietnam Zippo:

1. The location named and unit are not correct: for example, the First Infantry Division never had units at Danang, so a lighter indicating that location would be a fake.

2. Weird mis-spellings: no self-respecting GI would buy a lighter or have a lighter engraved with the word "Infantry" spelled "Infanty" ... but, I've seen that several times. I've also seen mis-spellings of base names, military ranks, etc.

3. Wobbly engraving: the letters should be crisp and the linear portions nice and straight.

4. This isn't always so, but most of the authentic Army and Marine Corps Zippos will not have enamel or paint in the letters, themselves. On the other hand, many of the US Navy ship Zippos will have color enameled letters and logos, as will those of the USCG and USAF.  The Army and Marines, no. 

5. Most authentic Vietnam Zippos will have some design element, whether it is done in cloisonné enamel, paint, engraving, or even an attached 'beer can' construction emblem. Whatever the method, the design should be of a professional appearance. (The 'beer can' designs usually are much less well-executed but are still authentic. But, know that even ‘beer can’ emblems have been reproduced). A lot of the fakes have really sketchy (sorry) artwork.

6. The bottom stamp of the Zippo should actually be stamped, not engraved. Here's the Zippo Company's official listing, with photos, of the date stamps and codes:

    http://www.zippo.com/about/article.aspx?id=1582

7. The date listed is incorrect: for example, the Ist Infantry Division was in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970. If a lighter shows a unit of that Division with a 1973 date that would indicate that it's a bad one.

8. Chrome completely gone from the lighter, leaving a brass finish. The finish has often been ground off or chemically removed.

9. Sayings or quotes that just don't make any sense. Here's one I saw recently "The power never win the willing of the people" ... what the heck does that mean?

10. The lighter's insert is not a genuine Zippo one and nor marked correctly.

11. Zippo lighters constructed solely in brass were not made during the period of the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. (With the exception of WWII, when Zippos were made out of a mild steel [which tended to rust] and then coated with a black crackle finish paint; the body of the genuine Zippo was/is, however, made of brass ... but, it is then usually completely covered in a chrome finish.)

And, virtually all of the lighters on eBay that claim to be Vietnam lighters are, unfortunately, fakes. I have perhaps 30 authentic Zippos made in Vietnam during the war, including three of my own that were made ‘in the ville’ in 1968-1969. I have gotten to the point where the only Zippos that I will buy are directly from the veteran and only if he’ll give me a copy of his DD-214.

I know that it’s disheartening to find out that so many Vietnam Zippos are fakes. Frankly, it’s a huge cottage industry in Vietnam now. The Dan Sinh market in Ho Chi Minh City even has dealers that will make up a ‘Vietnam Zippo’ especially for a customer. Proceed with caution.


Looking for:

 

1. CIB with M16 instead of 1795 Musket

2. Rarer current era brassards and armbands

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

 

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Thank you so much for taking the time to give me this invaluable information. My collecting interest in zip close is based upon the intimate connection between the soldier and the lighter which I will explain a little later but I have to go help my friend move. Could you take a moment though if you have time, to explain how best to use the 4 manuals I have ordered 3 of so far, in my collecting? Is it to get a clear and distinct visual Gestalt of what an authentic Vietnam era zippo looks like?? As one aspect of the books' use anyway. I am sure there are more poignant ends a collector historian utilizes the book to reach.Could you give some thoughts on that for me if you have time, thank you so much.

 The facts you're giving me as to the difficulty in finding a true lighter makes them that much more precious. Just like the wing section of collecting which I also focus on, there are distinct tells that begin to come clear in the minds of true collectors who pour themselves into the Honorable, disciplined, discerning, consistent journey of discovery. It is a journey tempered with love of history and the men proceeding with intent to stand fast and charge hard, even unto life's edge and beyond, in the convictions of their universal ideals. These men are the chisels God uses on the tablets of time and space to inscribe the events of the resplendent epic that is the account of man, under God. The men who pursue collecting with such marked abandoned, look so diligently at the truth that even minuscule corruptions thereof, the tells of artifice and guile, dawn clearer and clearer as the truth of the relics of that time dawn clearer and clearer. It sounds like you were on the trail of several of those tells in your treatise above. Thank you again.
mtnman

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Bob is the actual expert. As for the books: yes, looking at authentic Vietnam Zippos in the books is the next best thing to handling a lot of them. Ideally, you could do both. But, authentic ones are thin on the ground. And, honestly, I’ve looked at pictures in books and handled lots of authentic ones, but I’ve still been burned several times. 

I understand about the connection that guys have to their Zippos: pretty much everyone smoked in Vietnam. When your mortality will most likely be caused by ‘high speed lead poisoning’ from an AK-47 round, you didn’t worry too much about getting cancer in 20 or 30 years. Plus you got a little pack of cigarettes in every C-ration accessory packet. And, ‘care packages’ from home had them. I didn’t smoke cigarettes, but I did smoke cigars and was usually able to trade my C-ration cigarettes for cigars. Also included in the accessory packets were a pack of ‘damp climate’ matches that never seemed to work for me, so a Zippo was the way to go. 


Looking for:

 

1. CIB with M16 instead of 1795 Musket

2. Rarer current era brassards and armbands

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

 

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I have to agree with Bob and Cobra 6.  I am not aware of any high quality, comprehensive books on the military Zippos for collectors.   I own the Vietnam Zippos book written by Jim Fiorella and published by Schiffer.  While there are indeed many fakes illustrated in that book, there is also some useful information which in my estimation makes the book worthwhile.

You might also take a look at Vietnam Zippos - American Soldiers' Engravings and Stories 1965-1973 by Sherry Buchanan.   It has a number of great illustrations but attacks the subject more from the sociological and political view rather than from a purely collector's point of view. 

Zippos Book.jpg

I am not familiar with the Japanese books mentioned by Bob.  In the absence of one great book on the subject you might be best served by picking up all of the books mentioned in order to mine the valuable info and discard the rest.

The tips mentioned by Cobra 6 above are sound and will help to guide you in your search for Vietnam era military lighters.

I have perhaps a hundred or so military lighters from about 1950 up through the end of Vietnam.  My interest is mostly in the U.S. combat aviation units although I do have some Army and Marine ground forces associated lighters.  While lighters made by Zippo get the most attention, I have learned that many of my most interesting lighters are those that were made by Japanese makers such as Vulcan, Rocky, Konwal, Super Ace and others.  Thus, you may not want to limit yourself to strictly Zippo brand lighters. 

Good luck!

Regards,

Charlie


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