I bought my first Zippo in 1968 and since then some of my relatives offered me a Zippo for my birthday. I started to collect Zippos in 1999 when a colleague gave me a 1962 advertising Zippo engraved as a gift. An nice, Mac Louth Steel slim model Town & Country.

Puzzled about the engraving on the bottom of the lighter, I decided to learn more about Zippo. I found the Zippo catalogue with the code table of the year of manufacture.

I picked up the address of the company on the guarantee leaflet and I decided to write to the Old Lady of Bradford. I received the collector guide and during the week I ate up the whole content, reading some parts until I engrave them in my mind.

I was irresistibly attracted by the famous black crackle that had accompanied the American soldiers during the last world war, which is nowhere to be found!! Since then I have bought both the 1942 with the 4 barrel hinge and the 1943-45 3 barrel.

The famous 1942 Black Crackle mint.

I walked from the garage stores to the flea market and found an engraved lighter "VIETNAM CU CHI 66-67." It was as if the sky fell on my head. I decided to learn more about Vietnam Zippo lighters. These are the spiritual grandsons of the Black Crackle.

I have met a few actors of this great adventure, Vietnamese engravers, Vietnamese sellers of Saigon and American veterans. Without each of them this web site would not have come to light.

This doesn't concern all the Zippo categories used in Vietnam during the war but only Trench art. A term from the World War I refers to items made from the rubble of war on the field of battle, in trenches. When soldiers made items, engraved ammunition socket cases manufacturing lighters or knives to never forget what they have lived.

This term of "Trench art" is a little bit misused because the soldiers had time to make item souvenirs, whereas in Vietnam not many soldiers have engraved their own lighter.

How a Vietnam Zippo looks like?

Between 1959 and 1975, nearly two and half millions of American soldiers sojourned in Vietnam and most of them have a lighter. According to the Zippo's collectors, only 200 000 lighters were engraved in Vietnam. About height per cent have their personalized lighters. The most common lighter is the regular brush without distinctive marks. Some have only added their first name and the date of their tour or the Vietnam map without anything else.
They wanted to leave their name behind on something beside a headstone. Some put in their hometowns: "Meanest son of bitch in Burns, Tenn."
A few Zippos, probably from early in the war, wear patriotic themes. As time passed and the anti-war movement at home intensified, that patriotism could become belligerent. Some engravings, surely of later vintage, are pacifist, bearing peace like those carried by protesters. However, for the most part the messages are sexual, explicit, and nihilistic. "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
Others have engraved the place where they fought and wanted to say, "I have been there! Particularly there!" And then some have recuperate the buddy's lighter before he leave Viet-Nam and added their name promising to get later the Zippo back.