Keepers of the Flame

A gathering place for Zippo lighter collectors and enthusiasts

Zippos are much more than simple metal lighters. The ubiquitous Zippo became woven into the fabric of the American War experience. These compact lighters “are the small, speaking, archaeological objects that bear witness to great personal heroism, pride, pain and tragedy,” wrote Jim Fiorella in his photo-filled 1998 coffee table book, The Vietnam Zippo. In the decades since the end of the war, thousands of people — veterans, military memorabilia collectors and just-plain-old Zippo fans — have put together personal Zippo lighter collections.

In Vietnam, Click Club is one such club dedicated entirely to the Zippo lighter. “Why the Zippo lighter? Why not something else? These are questions a lot of people have asked us over the years,” says Nguyen Quoc Dung, founder of Click. “It’s difficult to answer if you don’t already love the Zippo. But look at it; look at the sturdy and easy-to-use design. Zippos stand the test of time. Even the ones made in the 1930s, if they have been kept by good owners, work perfectly as if they have just come from the assembly line in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Look at the cases. See how beautiful they are and how many designs they have. It’s just a feeling that all collectors have when they see something they want to put in their collection. I’d say, ‘Do we really need a reason for collecting anything aside from that we love it very much and that it has a historical value to it?’”

Oi Vietnam-Jan2016_zippo club__DSC4633_NT (OiVietNam_3N)

Named for the sound of the metal lid closing and opening, Click Club is nearly two years old. When Dung first founded it in early 2014, the club had seven members. Now, its meetings are regularly attended by 20-30 people. Members meet every Saturday morning at 9am to catch up, show off their latest finds and to trade. There is no registration or membership fee required. Click membership is varied with members coming from all walks of life: from college students to blue collar workers to university professors. The oldest member is a 44-year-old salaryman. The youngest has just passed his university entrance test.

The club meets at Click Club Coffee (64/1 Tran Huy Lieu, Phu Nhuan). The cafe is owned by Pham Viet Ha, Dung’s former boss and the person who introduced him to his first Zippo. “A few years ago, I work for Ha in his Zippo distribution business. That’s where I learn the particulars of the Zippo and the huge number of fans it has. I guess you could say, I was a hard worker, so eventually my work blurred into my personal life and before I knew it, I had gained a group of friends that would only talk about lighters when we came together.”

Oi Vietnam-Jan2016_zippo club__DSC4638_NT (OiVietNam_3N)

From that point on, the idea of creating a social club came naturally. According to Dung, the first year was especially tough, but eventually he learned to attract more members and to create bonds within the group through orchestrating a variety of social activities that go beyond the weekly meetings. “We do charities. We would organize a Sunday when we come together and go to nearby orphanages or community houses for the elderly and help out: cook, clean and such. We host holiday parties and birthday bashes for members in the cafe. It’s easier to come together as a club when the members already see each other as friends they would love to hang out with.”

At the weekly meetings there is also a table displaying a variety of discount lighters for those with a limited budget. “We call this Truyen Lua (“sharing the fire”),” says Dung. “The Zippos placed on the Truyen Lua table is 50 to 75 percent discounted. The purpose is to make it easy for just anyone to start collecting.”

Oi Vietnam-Jan2016_zippo club__DSC4653_NT (OiVietNam_3N)

Every year, the company releases a registry of every product it has made within that year. However, models missing from this list, such as prototypes never released in the common market, are highly sought after by collectors. Zippos made in particular years such as in the 1930s also fetch a particularly high price. “A mint condition 2015 Zippo is priced at VND280,000. A solid gold Zippo is over a VND100 million. The vintage series from 1934 to 1937 are priced around USD2,000,” shares Dung. “And, of course, there are the legendary 1933 Zippos which are a collector’s dream.” The 1933 Zippos are first generation Zippos made by company founder George Blaisdell himself.

Dung hopes the club will eventually be officially recognized by Zippo USA. “Becoming recognized is also quite tricky, of course, and will require us to attain a certain level of scale, membership or activities. We may be only two years old and are only a casual club, but it’s something we will gradually work towards.”

 

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

The States That Have Legalized Marijuana So Far 2021

Are you interested in the legalization status of marijuana, especially in the United States, and want to learn more? Do you want to know where in the United States you could visit and still be able to smoke a joint legally? The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for

Read More »

Understanding A Hoarder: Why Can’t They Throw Anything Away?

To provide an understanding and the process of hoarding, we must first understand its definition. Hoarding is defined as a single-minded urge of collecting and safekeeping unwanted items in great numbers. Most of the people afflicted with hoarding disorder find it hard to throw away items. A hoarder desires to save items that they know

Read More »

Vietnam War Student Protests

Where did the student movement begin? The US airplanes started bombing North Vietnam in February 1965 after North Vietnamese submarines invaded 2 US ships at the Gulf of Tonkin. President Lyndon B Johnson commanded the revenge attacks blasting armed targets in North Vietnam. There were some criticisms about how the government was battling the self-governing

Read More »

Instagram: different ways to post

Have you been away from Instagram for a while now and have come back to practically a whole new platform but have no idea what’s going on? Do you want to know what all of the various different features are the Instagram has to offer now and how to use them? Instagram is by far

Read More »

In Season: A List Of Colorful Plants To Plant in Your Garden

Planting flowers can directly benefit the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to humans and animals. Thus, improving the air quality. Moreover, there are different types of flowers you can choose from depending on your preferences. You may choose based on its colors or based on its symbolism. The wide variety of plants

Read More »

Pills, Teas and Songs

Debby Nguyen’s new book “Pills, Teas, and Songs” is a collection of 11 stories on medicine practices across different cultures and countries, for example, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Vietnamese medicine (inspired by her own family and heritage), Ayahuasca, indigenous healing practices of the Lakota people, Black midwifery in the US, and more. The book is

Read More »