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  1. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 10:27 AM - Brass Trench Lighter #1

    Okay, there aren't too many World War 1 films, so I'm not sure if it's really a prop but, I wanted to show it off and I couldn't think of anywhere better. Plus, I'm a bit cloudy on it's origins and age, so I thought I'd see if anybody here had any idea.

    I aquired this on Ebay last week and it just arrived a few days ago.





    I'm going to say, judging by the amout of corrosion present, that it's pretty darn old. I had to scrape corrosion out from under the striker wheel to free up the spring mechanism and allow for the insertion of a piece of flint. Also, you can see that it uses an older type of gasket material to seal the filler hole at the bottom. It's looks to me like a type of felt but, I'm not as knowledgable on older things as I'd like to be yet.

    The only real clue is the tiny "Japan" stamped on the spine of the outer sleeve. I had discussed this with a friend soon after it arrived. He believed that, based on the stamp, it was a reproduction from after the occupation of Japan in the late 40's. He reasoned that Japan didn't call itself "Japan" or use english lettering until then.

    Of coarse, I didn't buy that at all and with a little research found that Japan had entered WW1 on the side of Great Britain and that they had shared quite a bit of technology and such during their period of alliance. So, my theory is that it's a genuine vintage piece from the war, created in Japan and based on the generic British trench lighter design.

    Still, I'm not at all sure. It looks old to me, it has the potential to be old but, I don't know.

    If anybody here has any theories or information, please feel free to share.


    Oh yes, it also still works.

  2. Warlord of Barsoom RPF Premium Member SurferGeek's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 10:51 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #2

    Correct... it's a replica. Unfortunately trench lighters have been copied for decades, starting shortly after WWI. The replicas are almost impossible to tell from the originals as the designs were copied almost identically. Country of origin marks are not always on them making the identification of replicas even harder. Corrosion or patina is easy to replicate and as they have been copied for so many years the patina could be authentic but still not be an original WWI trench lighter.

    The trench lighter has gotten much more popular lately with the Steampunk fan boys.
    Last edited by SurferGeek; Oct 30, 2009 at 10:54 AM.
  3. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 11:20 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #3

    Well one way to determine, would be to find out if Japan actually stamped stuff with "Japan" prior to the end of WW2.

    I doubt that the patina and corrosion present are faked. Honestly, as cheap as these are still going for, I'd almost rule out any high end fakes that would go so far as to replicate that. At most I'd say it's a really old reproduction.


    Your definitely right about the trench lighters becoming popular among the steampunk fans. It'll certainly drive the price up as they buy these to chop into itty bitty bits to use on crappy steampunk rayguns.

    Eventually people will start collecting them as vintage pieces and demand will get higher, people will try and keep them away from steampunkers and the prices will skyrocket.

    Such a vicious cycle.
  4. witness's Avatar
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    Twinsburg, OH
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    Oct 30, 2009, 11:44 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #4

    I just PMed you the address to an eBay sale with an exact lighter like that one that has "Made in Austria" and "Patent No 105107" stamped on it. It's likely the one you have is a copy made in Japan after the 40s. I used to have a WWII Canadian Trench Lighter back in the late 80s it was a beautiful thing. I lost it at a beach in the early 90s.
  5. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 12:12 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #5

    Thanks.

    I did find this Ebay Guide to Japanese antiques.

    It says they didn't start stamping stuff with "Japan" until the early 20's when exporting items became a larger operation.

    That puts the nail in the coffin for me.

    It doesn't give me an exact date but that coupled with other subtle clues would suggest to me that while not a genuine WW1 lighter, it could still have some significant age to it.
  6. jts1031's Avatar
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    Columbus, OH
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    Oct 30, 2009, 4:37 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #6

    I have an actual lighter from World War I. I'd always heard them referred to as Doughboy lighters. It was handed down from my great grandfather, and is even still in the original suede pouch.
  7. RPF Premium Member Dann's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 4:41 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #7

    Pretty neat lookin' little lightter there!
  8. bigcow's Avatar
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    In the land of the wind (Chicago)
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    Oct 30, 2009, 4:48 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #8

    Hi, jts1031 can you post pic of your lighter !
  9. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 4:52 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #9

    Yeah, please do if possible.
  10. Probe Droid's Avatar
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    Oct 30, 2009, 5:23 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #10

    Copy or not, that's cool.
  11. jts1031's Avatar
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    Oct 31, 2009, 6:39 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #11

    bigcow said: View Post
    Hi, jts1031 can you post pic of your lighter !
    Give me a day or two to dig it out and I'll post pics...
  12. bigcow's Avatar
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    Oct 31, 2009, 2:29 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #12

    Super Cool!
  13. Utinni's Avatar
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    Oct 31, 2009, 5:36 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #13

    Your definitely right about the trench lighters becoming popular among the steampunk fans. It'll certainly drive the price up as they buy these to chop into itty bitty bits to use on crappy steampunk rayguns.
    This is kinda funny to hear on this board. Graflex anyone???

    - Jeff
  14. Member Since
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    Oct 31, 2009, 6:10 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #14

    Cool lighter! I love the look of those things, makes me want to start smoking.
    Well not really... I'll post pics of my trench lighter although I don't think it's as old as the OP's one.
  15. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Oct 31, 2009, 6:53 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #15

    Utinni said: View Post
    This is kinda funny to hear on this board. Graflex anyone???

    - Jeff
    To say it wasn't on my mind as I typed would be a rather large lie.
  16. Member Since
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    Nov 1, 2009, 3:15 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #16

    I picked this one up at an Antique Shop. I don't know the history of it but all I knew was that it looked cool and I had to have it.
    The brass was tarnished very badly so I polished it back up with Brasso and it looks fantastic now. It still works too.

    http://s93.photobucket.com/albums/l6...view=slideshow
  17. KojiroVance's Avatar
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    Nov 1, 2009, 5:40 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #17

    Re: post 1, I remember these being sold via mail order throughout the 1980s. I think the Indy Jones retro schtick fueled interested in these. In order to establish this particular one is a WWI model would require more than absence of corroboration. No offense intended, just don't want you thinking you've got a valuable relic and find out it's a later facsimile.

    I had a different style, a capsule model with top ... very neat. Wish I still had it, I had my initials engraved on it.

    Still a neat, anachronistic design, though.
    Last edited by KojiroVance; Nov 1, 2009 at 5:42 PM.
  18. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Nov 1, 2009, 6:05 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #18

    Oh I know it's not a WW1 piece. I don't think it's a modern replica either though.

    I've been looking into them for awhile and I've noticed that most of the more modern ones were done by large name brands or, have slightly different details. Most of them use a modern key ring instead of a brass loop, none of them I've seen use a fiber gasket on the filler cap. But, the big stand out for me, almost all of the modern replicas, of this type in particular, have knurling on the end of the flint spring puller thingy.

    The "Japan" stamp puts it anywhere from the 20's to anytime really. But, the corrosion and minute details, I don't know. Hard to say. I don't think it's modern though, relatively speaking. Hell, might be from WW2 for all I know.

    Truthfully, I hadn't read the description fully until after I bought it. As soon as I saw "it's stamped with Japan" I pretty knew it wasn't WW1 vintage. I was just entertaining to fanciful thought.

    I'll be keeping an eye out for one thats more easily identified in the future though.


    Tony, looks like your's might be the real deal. What's it say on the stem?
  19. Member Since
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    Nov 2, 2009, 3:52 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #19

    GrenadeKing said: View Post
    Tony, looks like your's might be the real deal. What's it say on the stem?
    It says 'Made In Austria' on one side and 'Patent No 105107' on the other.
    On the body itself on one side it says 'Patent Austria' and the opposite side 'YFA 4400'.
  20. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Nov 2, 2009, 4:43 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #20

    Yeah, I'd say, based on my limited experience, that that's probably real.
  21. The Pensive Polak RPF Premium Member ItsThatGuy's Avatar
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    Nov 2, 2009, 4:48 PM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #21

    After seeing this thread, I bought a real one too...real fake.

  22. The Pensive Polak RPF Premium Member ItsThatGuy's Avatar
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    Nov 8, 2009, 1:04 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #22

    Here's a video of the one I bought. Cool little lighter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irdy62zmYmc
  23. DudeManGuy's Avatar
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    Nov 8, 2009, 2:35 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #23

    This is so rediculously awesome. I don't smoke, and nobody I know smokes, but I want one like nobody's building. The wheel looks really exposed though, does it have a safety? Because I'm the exact kind of person who would have it for 3 days before it went off in my packet and lit my pants on fire
  24. Cast From Original RPF Premium Member sskunky's Avatar
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    Nov 8, 2009, 3:48 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #24

    Tony said: View Post
    I picked this one up at an Antique Shop. I don't know the history of it but all I knew was that it looked cool and I had to have it.
    The brass was tarnished very badly so I polished it back up with Brasso and it looks fantastic now. It still works too.

    http://s93.photobucket.com/albums/l6...view=slideshow
    That's a fantastic lighter but by polishing it I'm afraid it's now lost a big part of it original antique value. Half the value of these things is the history of the patina and dirt. Sounds silly I know but I have collected lighters for years on and off, sold most of them on but I did keep this old Dunhill Tinder pistol lighter with the original British patent which makes it more collectible than the later US one. It has been crudely repaired on the front foot and the mechanism does need repairing but when I took it to the Dunhill museum they said they only see about 1 a year if they are lucky The fact that it was repaired and still in it's original dirty condition does not refract it's value in fact it's better to see than a clean polished one.
    It's a bit like repairing old buildings, they often make the repair obvious so the history can be seen. Even listed buildings.

  25. GrenadeKing's Avatar
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    Louisville, KY
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    Nov 8, 2009, 6:59 AM - Re: Brass Trench Lighter #25

    DudeManGuy said: View Post
    This is so rediculously awesome. I don't smoke, and nobody I know smokes, but I want one like nobody's building. The wheel looks really exposed though, does it have a safety? Because I'm the exact kind of person who would have it for 3 days before it went off in my packet and lit my pants on fire
    Well, it won't light without being open. When it's closed, a cap covers the wick and the striker is too far above the pipe to light it. I wouldn't worry about it.

    I had a chance to get a real Austrian IMCO trench lighter yesterday but some punk outbid me by $3 in the last 10 seconds.

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