Table lighters are the stationary form of cigarette and cigar lighters, primarily designed to be displayed in the home or in public establishments like hotels, restaurants, and bars. Most table lighters were made in fine metals like silver, brass, copper, or gold, and ignited with Naptha lighter fluid.
Ornate table lighters were produced in collaboration with renowned porcelain and glass companies like Wedgwood, which created stylish table lighters in its familiar Jasperware, or Colibri, which produced them with decorative porcelain or etched metal bases. Other elegant lighter designs featured carefully sculpted wood, resin, or marble bases. During the 1920s and '30s, the graphic patterns and bright colors of the Art Deco style covered table lighters made from Lucite, Bakelite, and enameled metals.
Sometimes stationary lighters were made to resemble small vehicles or miniature animals like lions, horses, and swans. Ronson even designed a lighter that resembled a tiny bar, complete with cups, shakers, and a bartender mixing drinks. Cigarettes could be stored underneath the miniature counter and lit in front of the waiter using its “touch-tip” flame.
Simpler chrome lighters were used as promotional advertising for companies, custom printed with their names and logos, and given out to clients. During World War II, table lighters often took on the shapes of tiny bombs, planes, and tanks.
Zippo first introduced a table lighter with the Barcroft series in 1938, a model that was altered and reissued many times over the decades. In 1979, Zippo created the Handilite, whereby a normal pocket lighter could be attached to a chrome pedestal and used as a stationary table lighter.