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Welcome to:
Vintage-Ronson.com

This site pays tribute to the amazing history of lighters, smoking accessories and artistic metal wares produced by The Art Metal Works which was also known as Art Metal Works, Inc., Ronson Art Metal Works, Inc., The Ronson Corporation, and hereafter referred to as Ronson.

Ronson has a long and illustrious history of producing high quality cigar and cigarette lighters as well as stylish smoking accessories and Art items for home, office and commercial use. The Company was created by Louis V. Aronson, et al, in 1897 and was incorporated in 1898, in Newark, N.J.

A Brief History on Smoking:

Attitudes towards smoking were much different long ago. Smoking was considered to be sophisticated, a sign of accomplishment and heightened social status. (Tobacco producers promoted this idea through very effective advertising)

In the early 1910's, as America began to transform into an increasingly urbanized society, smoking became a popular leisure-time activity. The production of Dr. Carl Auer von Welsbach's safe flint material, which when struck with steel would produce sparks capable of igniting a wick, marked the birth of modern lighters. He marketed his invention as Original Auermetall and many of his discoveries are still utilized today. Ronson began production of a pocket lighter in 1913 which they named Wonderliter and a wonder it must have been in it's day. It was a simple device which utilized the newly developed flint. The wonderliter style, and others that followed, are collectively called Strike or Striker lighters. Striker because a steel wand is struck on a strip of flint producing sparks. Not long after, Ronson applied for many different patents for lighters, some of which featured a newly designed automatic mechanism on a lighter later named the Banjo, after it's distinctive shape. The wand that struck against the flint material in striker models was soon replaced by a flint wheel which was capable of shooting a shower of sparks onto a fixed position wick. Ronson recieved the first patent for an automatic lighter, meaning press and it lights & release and it goes out, this lighter was named the Banjo. The Banjo lighter was a huge success for Ronson and under Louis Aronson's direction they continued to experiment and recieve patents for lighter mechanisms, body designs and they received many patents for improvements to their lighters. At the same time they were marketing children's sparking toys which used the same flint material. It was not long after that Smokerís accessories, including lighters, were soon being offered at Tobacco stores and other upscale stores of the day including Jewelers and Department stores. Smoking accessories were promoted as proper attire and necessary for the modern gentleman. (Society at that time place very restrictive rules on ladies, they had limited rights and were frowned upon to smoke)

The Roaring Twenties saw the begining of the Art Deco movement and smokers were desirous of the latest smoking gadgets, especially when adorned with eye-catching art deco decorations and it soon became fashionable to have a fancy lighter and other smoking paraphernalia. Cigarette producers were hard at work trying to promote their highly profitable products as glamorous and popular with the "in-crowd". The glamour idea was further emphasized by popular personalities of the day who were very well paid for their endorsements. The production of fancy lighters, decorative ashtrays, cigarette dispensers & holders and just about any other device which could be profitably sold to the smoking public exploded into the marketplace as millions of people were seduced by Tobacco, and slick marketing.

By the time that the 1930Ďs rolled around cigarette smoking had become socially acceptable for ladies in America and much of the civilized World. People were smoking everywhere imaginable! Customers smoked while shopping in grocery and retail stores with floor model ash trays placed in every isle, and as incredible as it may seem, Doctors, Nurses and patients smoked in Hospitals. Tobacco companies grew very powerful; they even had doctors promoting smoking in the major publications of the day. The U.S. Armed Forces supplied a small pack of cigarettes with field rations to our soldiers. Tobacco companies made sure their advertising was everywhere. They employed the latest advertising techniques and promoted their products through every media available. Tobacco producers were so powerful that by the 1960's they had Television cartoon stars of The Flintstones endorsing smoking cigarettes! They promoted Winston cigarettes on television advertisements during the show in the early years and only for a short period of time.

The Ronson Exclusive Patent:

Once the 1940's rolled around there were many Companies competing for the burgeoning market of mass-produced lighters and smoking accessories.

Ronson had developed and patented the Banjo lighter in 1926 which began the one-motion lighter craze, one-motion meaning "Press it's lit, Release it's out" style of lighter. This was a pivotal point for Ronson's success, their Patent offered specific protection for the Ronson invention in the U.S. This meant that no other company could produce an automatic lighter until Ronson's Patent rights expired. It would not be long before their patent rights were put to the test.

From a lighter collector's point of view, it is clear that many companies copied Ronson's mechanism and at least one company pushed Ronson management to the breaking point and a lawsuit was filed for Patent infringement. The Evans Case Company of North Attelboro, MA., developed a fine reputation as a producer of Lady's handbags and accessories. Lighters were a natural choice to compliment their product line. They had produced a popular line of lighters called Lift Arm lighters in the mid 1920's, but the one motion phenomenon had begun and smokers wanted the latest and greatest products. When Evans began produced lighters that violated their exclusive patent rights, Ronson was forced to pursue a legal remedy. Although it took several court cases and many years, Ronson's exclusive patent rights finally assured their right to the automatic style of lighter and the Evans company had to pay Ronson a royalty for every lighter they produced.

The Art Deco Period:

Although Ronson had been in business for over two decades, they were focussed on producing metal wares with wonderful plated and enamelled finishes. The success of their cigarette lighters changed the direction of the Company and as the Art Deco movement swept the country in the early 1930's, Ronson was ready with reliable products and trend setting designs. Many of the most popular and desirable designs are attributable to one man's creativity, Frederick Kaupmann.
We have designed this site to feature products from the Art Deco period, 1930's through 1940's.

Vintage-Ronson Products:

Within this site you will find photographs and descriptions of cigar and cigarette lighters manufactured by Ronson, we have also included some other Ronson products which may surprise you. It is simply amazing the incredible variety and seemingly endless designs attributable to Ronson and their employees. This company was a leader of the Art Deco movement in America, and probably, the world.

In addition to their strong Art Deco contribution, Ronson also produced artistic metal wares for Commercial advertising, School & Fraternal organizations and for the Military. Some of the variety of products include, Ashtrays, Automobile Mascots, Book Ends, Busts, Cigarette Boxes & Humidors, Cigarette Dispensers, Desk Sets, Electric Lamps & Candelabra, Incense Burners, Military Metals & Buttons, Paper Weights, Pen Trays, Perfume Misters, Picture Frames, Religious Goods, Sparking Toys, Statues, Trophies, Wall Plaques and of course Lighters.

Ronson was so prolific that it would be impossible to display all of their products in this forum. The site is only a glimpse of the ingenuity and diversity of this company. Although this company was innovative with their product designs, it is the quality and performance of their products that earned the distinction of "The Worlds Greatest Lighters" and continues to intrigue, fascinate and attract collectors and admirers worldwide.

Vintage Ronson Reports:

Vintage-Ronson.com now provides history and value reports for vintage Ronson products.

Vintage-Ronson reports are designed to provide reliable information for novice and collector alike. Each report presents historic information covering Patent Drawings, Catalog Information and a Current Market Valuation Assessment.

Many Ronson lighters, smoking accessories and other products have great value, as yours may!

The benefit provided by a Vintage-Ronson Report is a proper understanding your items history and value in todayís collectorís market! The cost of the report is justified by the advantage you gain from accurate information in an easy to use format.

This service is exclusive to the Vintage-Ronson.com community.


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General Questions:

If you have a Vintage RONSON item that is similar to one listed here and have a general question not covered by Product Reports, you may write us through this link.


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Lighter Repair:

If you have a Ronson Lighter in need of Repair, follow the link below.

See the Current Ronson Products:

If you are looking for the current Ronson Lighters and Products, they are available at The Official Ronson Corporation Website, Follow the link below.

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All Rights Reserved.

The Photographs and descriptions contained within this web site are copyright.
Vintage-Ronson.com & Vintage Ronson Lighters, Ltd., will initiate legal proceedings against the publishers or designers of any publication or web site containing text or photographic images originating from this source without prior written authorization.