Early Cigarette Lighter

Contributed by Manaeus

Early Cigarette Lighter

It didn't occur to me until some time after I bought it, but this is the direct ancestor of the disposable plastic cigarette lighter. Apart from being made of silver, it works in nearly the same way. Inside the lighter is wadding which was soaked in naphtha, which when the stem was pulled out, started to vapourise. (Petrol vapourises too quickly) A flint on the end of the stem was struck against the steel plate on the side until a spark would light the naphtha vapour. Fitting the stem back back in the hole extinguished it. This cannot have been a very efficient lighter in comparison to matches, which had been available since 1827; but this was a new technology. If one situation hastened the development of the lighter, it was World War One. Living for months in sodden conditions, soldiers would have difficulty in keeping their matches dry. If they could afford this novelty, they had a better chance of striking a light, but not of surviving.

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