Friday, June 26, 2009

Zip, Zip, Zippo!

"The Newest Gift for Modern Mothers" - I guess they mean the lady we saw in that Joe De Mers illustration on Tuesday.

I love these ads... everyone studiously lighting up with their shiny new Zippo lighters.

Both of these ads from the middle of 1957 were illustrated by "P.W."

I'm stumped by who that might be. But if you think you might know, please drop me a line.

As I wrote in a previous post, I love my Zippo. I quit smoking five years ago... but I still enjoy carrying my Zippo - especially when I go on my annual summer fishing trip up north.

There's just something really satisfying about the substantial weight of a Zippo... the metallic *schlik* of the lid flipping open, the smell of lighter fluid and the crunchy resistance of the flint against that little sparking wheel...

No wonder all these people look so content.

Seriously, if you've never used a Zippo, you have no idea what a pleasant little ritual it provides in the act of fire-making.

Oh, and one last thing: this whole "lighting-each-other's-cigarette" thing may look very romantic. But believe me...

Its a good way to get the tip of your nose burned.

Voice of experience.

* My "Smoking!" Flickr set.


  1. When I was attending art school, in 1958 and 59, I was asked to model for photo sessions by my illustration instructor, Bob Foster. One session was a head and torso beach scene, with me standing with my shirt off and a towel around my neck, cigarette in my mouth and lighting a cigarette for a beautiful young lady. She was actually a high school senior that was part of the introductory program for a few select art majors from local high schools. She didn't smoke, but at that time I did. I had to show her how to hold her cigarette, as though she were a veteran at it. We started laughing so hard about it, that we could hardly hold our pose. And, what made it worse is Bob Foster kept making wise cracks the whole pose. He would gleefully egg us on.

    Later I tried to do an illustration in gouache, from the black and white photo, but was never satisfied with the results from painting myself.. probably because it ended up looking too much like me. ;-)

    Tom Watson

  2. Charlie Allen11:35 PM

    Great funny story, Tom....and I agree on trying to portray yourself. Had to do it often on Poloroid shots. LEIF....thanks again for reminding us of our more 'innocent' (spelled gullible) past. To the current crowd, it must seem like the dark ages. But sn=moking was everywhere. Most men smoked....I grew up with a dad that smoked cigarettes and a pipe. Lived with second hand smoke. Started in my late teens....quit, fortunately, at 30. Cigarettes were 18 cents a pack when I started....I've heard what... five bucks? By the way....whoever 'PW' was, he was a fine illustrator.

  3. Our family doctor was a 2 pack a day smoker and way overweight as well. Not a good roll model but kept up patched up like the country doctor he was. Back then just about everyone grew up with second hand smoke.. unless you were a strict Mormon. Most kids thought it was another symbol of manhood, and was a cool thing to do. I found out 9 or 10 years after I started smoking, that the real symbol of manhood was trying to quit and sticking to it. Thankfully I was able to do both on the second try.

    Tom Watson

  4. Beautiful art work but I came very close to buying a lighter and I've quit smoking years ago.

  5. There is definitely something about those lighters. I have not seen one in years.

    Hey Leif, how does a Hamiltonian define "north"? Just curious, since I live "north" of you all.

  6. Black Pete;

    Traditionally us Southern Ontarians define "Up North" as cottage country: Muskoka, Haliburton Highlands, etc.

    When I began ice fishing in North Bay and first saw signs welcoming me to the "Near North" I have changed my perspective of what I would define as truly North, but the term "Going Up North" as a reference to a three-and-a-half hour drive to the cottage still holds water with me and most everybody I know around here...

    Clear as mud? ;^)

  7. My name is Pete Ekizian, owner of Executive Gift Shoppe. We specialize in collectible Zippo Lighters . We're finding that despite the declining number of smokers, both cigar and cigarette, Zippo lighter sales are on the rise. This is due to the huge number of collectors of these classic instruments. Wisely, the Zippo corporation rolls out a new line of styles each and every year, keeping the collectors wanting more.

  8. You can view my Zippo advertising set on my Flickr page here: