17 Aug
Fighter By Day, Lover By Night, Drunkard By Choice, Marine By Mistake...

It is without question that the classic metal flip-top Zippo lighter, first manufactured in 1933 by the Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford, Pennsylvania, is completely and utterly clutch within the military ranks. Its ability to stay lit in tempestuous weather and its ‘windproof’ reputation ceded it immediate success and popularity with the rank and file. What other tiny object could warm a body on its way to hypothermia, or assist a soldier in getting their nicotine fix anytime and anywhere? Out of all times of war, the Vietnam Conflict stands out as a troubled era in both American and world history as it bubbled over into a frothing sea of personal and political turmoil. The messages engraved on these rusty and weathered lighters, which belonged to actual soldiers of the 1955-1975 war, do not say anything different. The crude yet crafty slogans engraved into the crusty lighters are reflective of the brash and careless attitude necessary to slog through the crisis of warfare and fears of imminent death. “You Can Surf Later”, “Fuck It” and “Why Me?” seem to really capture the angst and acceptance of the soldiers’ mindset, but perhaps best of all is the motto “Fighter By Day, Lover By Night, Drunkard By Choice, Marine By Mistake”. Bradford Edwards, a collector of some of the best vintage Zippo specimens, decided to auction off 282 of them at the Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati for approximately $35,000 USD. Although that may seem like a high amount for a starting bid, it’s hard to argue the value of a Vietnam War Zippo lighter that embodies a work of art and a historical artifact — and most importantly, illuminates a personal glimpse into an event most know only through history books and film.

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