We tend to think of souvenirs as being produced for the First and Second World Wars and then falling by the wayside. However, even recent and controversial wars such as those ‘against terror’ have created a small market for souvenir items, often amongst the very troops going into battle. Zippo lighters have long been popular amongst British troops and have been produced in small runs with a variety of regimental badges, emblems and designs. It is no surprise then that a specific design based around the Invasion of Iraq would be produced for sale to the men and women involved in this conflict:On the front of the lighter is an engraved map of Iraq and the title ‘Operation Telic 2003’:Operation Telic was the British name for the war in Iraq, rather than the US name indicating that this lighter was specially engraved by the company for sale to British troops. All other features of the lighter are typical for a Zippo petrol lighter. The lid flips up to reveal the flint and wick for the flame:The fuel reservoir can be pulled out of the body of the lighter for refuelling:This lighter is very simple so does not use pressurised gas, but rather has a felt pad under which are a set of rayon balls that are filled with lighter fluid. The base of the lighter is marked Zippo and indicates it was manufactured in the USA:The code ‘E 03’ indicates that this lighter was manufactured in May of 2003.
Zippo lighters, which have gained popularity as “windproof” lighters, are able to stay lit in harsh weather, due to the design of the windscreen and adequate rate of fuel delivery. A consequence of the windproofing is that it is hard to extinguish a Zippo by blowing out the flame. However, if the flame is blown from the top down, it will be easily extinguished. The proper way to extinguish the lighter is to close the top half, which starves the flame of oxygen, but unlike other lighters, this does not cut the fuel. One of the recognizable features of Zippo is the fact that it burns with a wick. Opening the top lid produces an easily recognizable “clink” sound for which Zippo lighters are known, and a different but similarly recognizable “clunk” when the lighter is closed. This noise is produced by the spring-loaded toggling cam, a little lever that keeps the lid closed or opened securely.