American artist Bradford Edwards was able, for several years in the 1990’s, to put together an amazing collection of 282 Vietnam War Zippo lighters. All of these lighters feature personalized engravings made by the US soldiers, sailors and airmen who had them during the war.
Some have funny messages written on them, others clever images and even some words to dear loved ones back home. In any case, these Zippo lighters show just how those boys were feeling at that time, when their life was as stake, killing or being killed for some interests which were not their own. Many lighters say these thoughts in clever, single liners.
In any case, there were many men fighting in the Vietnam war an they were as different as these lighters. Some saw the war as their privilege and duty, being raised by WWII heroes, others, more unwilling and who struck out on the draft lottery, weren’t so enthusiastic and with good reason too. The average age of the 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years.
Nevertheless, the Zippo lighter was something that united them all. Besides lighting cigars or cigarettes, these lighters were utilitarian tools used by almost every soldier in the Vietnam War. They were also used for heating food, illuminating letters from home, or setting fire to huts of suspected Vietcong. No matter the reason, the Zippo was a symbol of dependability and the rare thing that all soldiers could count on.
After buying one for $1.80 from the post exchange store, they could then personalize their lighters at sidewalk tents with one of wide selection of stock designs or personalized messages.
Today you won’t be able to find any more original Vietnam War Zippo lighters in the whole of the country. Ever since Vietnam became a more modern and open nation in the last 20 years, foreign tourists have driven a growing market in the mementos, leading to an explosion in fakes. This collection of 282 Vietnam era Zippo lighters was sold for $35,250 on June 21, 2012.