Table Lighters




                                                                   Page added 7th April 2006       

                                                                       Page Updated 18th August 2006




                                             'Barcroft' Model 1

Zippo Table lighters covered an interesting range of styles. The original Table Lighter from '39 was a large and imposing beast, today it can be looked upon as an item that could happily have sat on the desk of a boardroom for one of the richest conglomerates in the world. The approach of the second world war may possibly have contributed to the manufacture of the '1st Barcroft' being stopped, but the the Table lighter disappeared from the Zippo range after only being manufactured during the short period of 1939-1940 and did not reappear until 1947, by which time it had been slightly redesigned. The model 1 is a sought after piece amongst collectors and always commands a premium price. For descriptive ease I am only referring to the 'Barcrofts' as models 1 to 4 rather than their book names (Table model #10, Deluxe all purpose Table Lighter). Strictly speaking, the use of the Barcroft name for all 4 models may not be historically accurate as the #10 only received the Barcroft name in 1954, this being the release date of the model 4 table lighter. But as time progresses, the Barcroft title is being used by many as a general name for all four revisions of the #10.

tablesmodel1.jpg (31199 bytes)  

Model 1 'single step' Barcroft.  (1939-1940).

I don't expect to own a model 1, being British and living in England, the chances of finding an American lighter of this style in a car boot sale or similar are very slim, and short of a lottery win, I can't see me parting with the kind of money these items go for elsewhere.


                                              'Barcroft' Model 2

I did however manage to get a nice model 2. It is similar in stature to the model 1, but sports the 2 step base. It's a lovely thing to hold, except that it is a high polish item, so every time you pick it up, you have to wipe the greasy finger marks off it to keep it looking good, and even perfectly clean hands leave obvious fingerprints. Another slight issue is the size of the lighter's insert and it's ravenous taste for fuel at refill time. The insert is huge (though slightly smaller than a model 1 insert). As a result of this copious fuel chamber, it will happily take a quarter of a normal fuel canister during a refill. It lasts for ages once filled, but you are very aware of the amount of fluid the insert takes during a top up. A curious thing with the flint spring was the design of the little lug that rests against the flint. On first inserting a new flint I was surprised that instead of the little pin of the usual Zippo, the model 2 had a long rod allied to the spring. No doubt designed to compensate for the issues of a longer spring losing its ability to do the job. The model 2 was only manufactured for 2 years before being replaced in late 1949 with the smaller model 3.

tables_14.jpg (245868 bytes)  tables_13.jpg (332467 bytes)  tables_12.jpg (379919 bytes)  tables_10.jpg (506677 bytes)  

Model 2 Barcroft (1947-1949).


                                              'Barcroft' Model 3

The model 3 Barcroft looks a little small in comparison to it's older brothers. It is roughly three quarters the height of a model 2. The model 3 still has a relatively large insert though. One thing in the model 3's favour when it comes to being a collector is that it was manufactured for roughly 5 years. In theory this should make them more common than their predecessors, yet strangely the model 3 doesn't turn up anywhere near as much as you would expect. I suspect many of these are wrongly advertised as model 4's, or perhaps just advertised as Barcrofts. I only had one usable image of a model 3 for this page, but I could just have easily put a model 4 here and nobody would have noticed, providing of course the lid was left closed. Explanations as to why this statement holds true are in the details of the model 4 further down the page.

tablemodel3.jpg (38747 bytes)   

Model 3 Barcroft 1949-1954.


                                              Lady Bradford

The lady Bradford was introduced to the Zippo lineup, albeit briefly, in 1949. But due to instability issues it was quickly recalled and a flanged base was added.  The Lady Bradford was consequently re-released in 1950 with the flanged base as standard. Some of these flanged Ladies have been taken apart by collectors, only to find that once the flange section has been removed, the base of the lighter has been stamped with Zippo's mark (although now sporting a bolt hole for the flange fitment), this leads many to believe that Zippo did not retool the Lady Bradfords, they merely drilled a hole in the base and bolted the additional stabiliser to it. After all, why stamp an area of the lighter that will theoretically never be seen. 

The Lady Bradford was also the first Zippo table lighter to use a 'Standard' Zippo lighter insert, that is to say, a regular insert from a regular sized pocket Zippo lighter. This isn't the end of the fuel storage capabilities of the Lady though, the body of the Casing is hollow and filled with wadding, a raised pad where the insert meets the casing ensures the Insert can draw from the 'expansion tank' that the Lady Bradford effectively provides. The same 'expansion Tank' principle also carries over into the Model 4 Barcroft.

One small note regarding the finish of the Lady Barcrofts, they are notorious for suffering the effects of pitting. Mine has a couple of very slight marks showing, as do a great many Lady Barcrofts on the market. Finding mint finishes in the lady's is starting to become a rarity, and one which you may pay considerably more for. The small plus point of such marks comes from knowing it hasn't been re-chromed, and after 56 years, some patina is acceptable to me.

Despite the name, and the impression that it was perhaps designed to sit on show in some rich woman's palatial mansion, one of the most well known users of the Lady Bradford was George Blaisdell himself, having kept one sat on his desk and regularly in use almost from the time of it's creation. Blaisdell's Lady was engraved with a large flowing letter 'B' on the front face. I have no doubt that whoever currently possesses that particular Lady Bradford has the most expensive version in the world, Yet somewhat ironically, George's personal lady was a skirted version. Whether the flanged skirt was added later or actually made with it is open to debate.

My lady is wearing a skirt, a 50's model.

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Lady Bradford  (1949/1950-1954).

Some unscrupulous individual recently took an Engraved Lady Bradford and cut it in half down the centre. The lighter had been seen for sale in it's complete form before resurfacing in the state shown below. The same lighter was then sold in 2 separate auctions on eBay under the titles of  'Salesman Demonstrator'. To those who know a little of the styles of inserts, an additional clue was given in the images themselves due to the use of a more modern insert, If it had been a genuine demonstrator it would have sported a period inner. Maybe the original inner was sold on for that last bit of additional profit. 

On the one hand, it is a shame that a perfectly operational old lighter was destroyed in this manner in a quest for financial gain. But on the other hand, it was done relatively well and has produced some nice photographs of the inner workings of the Table lighter design. Just remember, It's a normal Lady cut in half, not a desirable 'period' salesman piece.

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Additional note:- I have read elsewhere that the original 1949 Lady Bradford utilised a larger insert than the 'regular' insert used in the 1950-1954 models. If anybody has a 1949 model with a larger insert, I would appreciate a picture and any further information for adding to this page.


                                              'Barcroft' Model 4

The model 4 Barcroft, externally at least, looks exactly the same as the model 3. So much so that many (if not all) of the model 4's are actually stamped up as a model 3. The difference only shows once you flip the lid open. The model 4 has a 'standard' Zippo lighter insert rather than the oversized insert of the model 3. By standard, I mean the same shape as any other regular sized pocket Zippo insert. You could remove the insert from the Zippo you are currently using (though not a slim, obviously) and slip it in a model 4 with no problems whatsoever. Like the Lady Bradford, the body of the casing is hollow and filled with wadding, a raised pad where the insert meets the casing allows the Insert to draw fuel from the 'expansion tank'. A detailed image of the model 4's inner workings is shown below.

Dating the model 4 Barcrofts can only be realistically done by the insert, but who knows whether the insert is original or not? Even engraved/embellished lighters showing a date can only tell you roughly when they were modified. Though at least they give you a better idea. When it comes down to the wire, the 3 earlier Barcrofts are easily dated to with a few years due to their limited manufacturing periods, Model 4's were made for a much longer period. Their cases (as this is being written in 2006) are at least 27 years old, and that's about as genuine a figure for dating a blank as you can get.

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Model 4 Barcrofts (1954-1979).    



A definite sixties style of lighter. When I first started looking for Zippo table lighters, I thought the Moderne was hideous. So much so that I let a couple go at relatively cheap prices without bidding. As my table collection neared its end I had 2 holes I wanted to fill, one was the Corinthian, the other the Moderne. I eventually bid on this Rhodium finish Moderne, ending up paying more than I should have done, in the back of my mind I knew that I didn't particularly like the lighter at the time and was only bidding to complete a set. When it arrived. I took it out of the bag and instantly changed my mind. I had expected it to be larger than it was. I don't know what made me envisage it as larger, but it turned out to be a svelte item. This lack of imagined bulk made all the difference to my views of the Moderne. 

I had, until getting the Moderne, thought that the lid was a regular sized lid, on seeing it in the flesh for the first time, it was obvious that the lid is from the Zippo slim model. The Moderne is not a small lighter by any means (standing as tall as the behemoth model 2 Barcroft), yet it feels small in the hand. The insert itself is a round item married to a slim lid. Unfortunately the Rhodium finish of the lighter suffers the same handling problem as that of the model 2 Barcroft, that of being so shiny you don't want to touch it, and every time you do touch it, the lighter need to be cleaned of finger prints. Other than that though, it is a very nice lighter.

I cannot tell from looking at the exposed inside of the base whether the Moderne uses the same expansion tank principle of the Lady Bradford and the Model 4 Barcroft. The Black felt pad in the base doesn't look like a fuel transfer pad to me. I may be wrong, but solely based on looking at my Moderne, the insert appears to be the only fuel supply available. Thinking logically, the round tubular design of the insert does hold considerably more than a standard rectangular Zippo insert, so maybe an extended reservoir was deemed superfluous.

tables_2.jpg (293790 bytes)  tables_3.jpg (276424 bytes)  tables_4.jpg (388817 bytes)  tables_22.jpg (421824 bytes)  tables_21.jpg (357243 bytes)  

Moderne  (1960-1966).

The Moderne was available in Black and Rhodium, Bright Rhodium (shown here), and Satin Rhodium finishes.



The Corinthian was another style that I wasn't initially too enamoured with. But I wanted one in my collection to complete the set. But once again I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw the lighter in the real world rather than just in pictures. It's a very nice lighter, pleasing on the eye, and now ranks as one of my favourites. The Corinthian, like the Moderne, uses the same slim Zippo top, allied to the same tubular insert.

Neither the Corinthian, nor the Moderne, were a particularly good seller for Zippo, and both were dropped from the range after only a six year production period.

tablecorin1.jpg (41026 bytes)  tablecorin2.jpg (44541 bytes) 3as.jpg (17550 bytes) 4as.jpg (7425 bytes) Corinthian (1960-1966).

The Corinthian was available in Bright Rhodium, Turquoise and Rhodium (shown here), and a third option of Pearlescent & Rhodium Finish.  The Rhodium finish is often mistaken for silver by casual observers.



The Handilite is a strange one to me. It ranks as a Table lighter in as much as it has a base and is marketed as a Table lighter. But I can't help feeling it is the poor relative of all those that went before it. It is nothing more than a Regular Zippo with a hole drilled in its base and bolted to a little stand. I have no doubt that it works well, it is a Zippo after all. But the whole concept feels like Zippo did it on the cheap. This is even more apparent when all the Table lighters are stood together, the Handilite looks seriously outgunned by all it's older relatives. It's only real redeeming feature? It is easier to use than some of the others. It may not be as grand, but it is certainly functional.

tables_17.jpg (142129 bytes)  tables_16.jpg (263051 bytes)  Handilite (1979 onwards).


                                               Lady Barbara

Zippo released a 65th anniversary model lighter in 1997 that paid homage to the Lady Bradford style of table lighter, the Lighter/Holder combination was called the Lady Barbara. It sported the 65th anniversary badge on the front of the Lighter holder, and an etched 65th anniversary logo on the front of the antique silver finish lighter. These 65th anniversary editions are starting to demand too much money for my liking, hence the non etched/badged model I chose to buy. 

Compared to the Handilite, I quite like this lighter and base combination. It feels somehow more substancial, and to my mind at least, it is the nearest thing to a table lighter that Zippo have manufactured in recent times. You can obviously take the lighter out and use it anywhere, then put it back in the holder while at home. That said, the warning label in the box would put most off using it at all. Basically it says that the antique silver finish is designed to wear, and that cleaning with certain cleaners will remove the antique effect altogether. Add to that the fact that the lighter fits very tightly in the base, and as a consequence the 'antique appearance' is unlikely to last long in general use.

One thing to note, it may look vaguely like a Lady Bradford, but it is considerably smaller, and if I were to be ultra picky, I would have preferred the lighter to sit slightly deeper in the base. It stands a little too proud of the casing for my tastes. Though when looked at more closely, you can see that had this not been the case, the lid would not have much room to clear the chimney when opened. 

barbara.jpg (23291 bytes)   65th Anniversary model (Released in 1997).

tables_20.jpg (222709 bytes)  tables_19.jpg (332697 bytes)  tables_18.jpg (290555 bytes)    Antiqued Silver Plate model ( Released in 1998)

camelladyb2.jpg (42297 bytes)  camelladyb1.jpg (56790 bytes)  camelladyb3.jpg (35248 bytes)    Pewter 'Camel' model


                                              'Barcroft' Inserts

tablesinserts.jpg (48442 bytes)  The 4 different Barcroft insert sizes.


                                A few extra images of Table Lighters


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Model 4, Model 2 and Handilte.

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Model 2 and Moderne. 

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Table Lighters on display.