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Song Jiang expertly pinched an antique lighter. With a “ding”, the lid was opened, and a violent and vertical flame burst out, and then with a sonorous “dang” sound, the lid was closed. He said that what he was holding in his hand was not a lighter, but industrial civilization, the beauty of machinery.

He does not smoke, but has no resistance to antique lighters at all. As a collector of antique lighters, from the earliest automatic lighters made in Germany in 1880, the earliest automatic lighter in history, to the valuable 18K pure gold British antique machine, he has more than 600 such antique lighters in his collection cabinet.

He hung these lighters on his Taobao store, the most expensive antique lighter, although Lao Song opened the price, 85,000 yuan, but someone really saw it, he was not willing to sell it.

600 antique lighters

Song Jiang does not feel that he is a collector, compared to those hardcore players, he is at most an insider.

He is a native of Yixing, Jiangsu, and the people around him all deal with purple sand, but he said that since he was a child, he has no feeling for purple clay pots. Once I went to a friend’s house for tea and saw the owner holding an old-fashioned lighter carved in sterling silver. He wanted to come over, played over and over for a long time, and couldn’t let go.

At that time, a friend told him, don’t underestimate this lighter, there are people on the market who pay more than 3,000 yuan to buy it with him, and he may not be willing to change hands.

“It’s so beautiful, and it’s so expensive!”

This was Old Song’s first impression of an antique lighter.

At the time, he was revisiting the movie Schindler’s List, saw several shots focused on a lighter, and “suddenly wanted to find it.” ”

He began to frantically collect information about this old-fashioned lighter, asked a friend in the country to ask around, many Tibetan friends with goods are not willing to give him, in desperation, he thought of a relative in Germany, and finally found this lighter in an inconspicuous German antique market, “It cost a few hundred dollars, it’s not expensive, this one used to be more, and now it’s getting harder and harder to find, after all, it was made in the 50s, and it has long been out of production.” ”

It was the first lighter in Lao Song’s collection, and the kerosene lighter from Germany was lucky, and before that, he had touched a lot of zippo, but the feel was completely different, “amazing, a thick feeling, you can’t imagine that the Germans made that quality product half a century ago.” ”

Since then, his collection has been out of control. In seven or eight years, Song Jiang collected more than 600 antique lighters.

He is the Regional Director for Sales of a listed company, traveling every time USA, UK, Germany, Austria… He would make time to drill into the local antique market. He also asked for a military model of a German field division from a World War II veteran. When the veteran gave him the lighter, he made only one request, “It can’t change hands.” ”

Almost no fakes

“If in order to smoke, I do not recommend you to buy antique lighters, disposable ones are enough, and they are better to use.” Old Song said bluntly.

Antique lighters are still in their infancy in China, and many people do not understand that a broken piece of metal can be worth hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands? The Tibetan friends of antique lighters are also clear, “They are all confused when they see my mood of collecting lighters, and they are probably the same as those who collect walnuts when I watch them.” ”

Preservation and appreciation are naturally indispensable, a lighter received in Europe for two or three thousand yuan, in the domestic market, the price is doubled is relatively normal, but this circle is very small, it is not easy to find the right buyer. Beside him, a friend who collects antique lighters, “you can count them in the palm of your hand.” “For a long time, everyone has been displaying, exchanging and buying and selling collections through offline exchanges or collection forums. Song Jiang is a person in the circle who opened a Taobao store earlier, “The threshold for collecting antique lighters is not so high, the price is relatively close to the people, you can find a good quality antique machine for a thousand yuan, and unlike other categories of fake antiques, lighters have almost no fakes, which is very suitable for online transactions.” ”

However, an antique lighter, no matter how exquisite the carvings and superb craftsmanship, if the function is incomplete, it does not have much collectible value.

His own collection, Lao Song has personally used. Usually when he goes out to see friends, he will also change his patterns casually, bring one or two antiques, and friends will often chase him to see what novel collections he has found.

He was surprised that among the countless lighters he handled, no matter how old the mechanical parts were, as long as the steamer was well preserved, even if it was hundreds of years old, most of them could be used. One of the British Dunhill lighters that had experienced World War II, when the foreign antique dealer shot out, pointed to a few marks on the exterior and said that it was crushed by a tank, but it still worked, “No wonder Churchill loved this brand so much.” ”

More than 80,000 lighters

Which lighters are suitable for collection, Lao Song did not have any principles. If there is, “it is also to look at the eye rim”.

But in fact, there are still traces behind it, such as the age, such as the level of craftsmanship, such as the story behind a certain lighter, which may affect its value in the hearts of Tibetans.

When it comes to lighters from the Dunhill Tallboy series, anyone who is a little involved in this collecting circle will know that there is a story about Picasso and his lover behind it.

One day in 1937, Picasso walked leisurely into a Dunhill boutique in Paris. After careful selection, he bought a silver lighter. Later, he carved a portrait on the top of the lighter, entitled “Dora on the rattan chair”, which was Picasso’s lover, Doramar. This has become a target pursued by Tibetans around the world.

But after all, this is unattainable.

In 2016, while traveling in Germany, Lao Song overheard a friend mention that a local auction house had an old-fashioned lighter to sell. He ran over to take a look, never seen that kind of model, asked a lot of friends in the circle, and could not say specific information, although there was wear and rust on the fuselage, he still did not hesitate to use 4,000 yuan and photographed it. After returning to China, he rummaged through all the books he could find, and finally found the introduction of this model in a book on an antique lighter.

The book introduces the American version, and the more rare German version in Lao Song’s hand, when he looks at the year of manufacture, it turned out to be 1889. He knew he had picked up the treasure.

Moreover, this lighter is not ignited by ordinary flint, but by the design of artillery paper, put in the disc of artillery paper, press the switch on the side of the fuselage, the internal automatic machinery will rotate, squeeze the artillery paper to ignite the spark, “The design is very avant-garde.” ”

In his Taobao store, he gave this baby a price of 5,500 yuan, which is very cost-effective, and several times someone wants to buy it, but he is not willing to sell it.

After entering this industry for 8 years, the highest value in Lao Song’s hands is a 1930 British Espree lighter, which is expensive because “the whole machine is made of 18K pure gold”. The price of this lighter in the world is above 80,000 yuan, and after having this product, it also made Lao Song step into the ranks of hardcore collectors.

Buy it back, you have to use it

The circle of collecting antique lighters in China is very small, and there are not many opportunities for communication, “it is a lonely business”, once a Tibetan friend appears on the forum or his Taobao store, Lao Song will cherish the opportunity to communicate. He once met a circle of “big bulls” specializing in Zippo lighters, the first out-of-print lighters produced in 1933, Lao Song had seen once in an antique shop window in England, the price was as high as 12,000 pounds, and the same model, the “big bull” alone, collected two.

However, most of them are ordinary people. They prefer lighters for five or six hundred yuan a piece, “the price is low, it may not feel like an antique, and if it is high, it is not worth the price.” Lao Song also said frankly that if you use an antique lighter worth a thousand yuan, and a disposable lighter worth two dollars, taste and identity, and make a judgment.

These antique lighters are in Song Jiang’s hands and are a collectible, but seventy or eight percent of the people who patronize his Taobao store and buy antique lighters back are actually used daily. At the beginning, Lao Song was still a little reluctant, “They are all treasures retrieved from abroad by thousands of choices, and the years are more than 50 years old, use one less, don’t toss old things.” ”

Later, a Tibetan friend came back to him, and an old lighter he bought a few months ago was used every day without any problems. The man told him, if you sell antique lighters, first of all, it is still a lighter, and if it works, of course it should be used.

“The service life of mechanical works during the industrial civilization period is really long.” After that, Song Jiang not only did not stop customers from using lighters, but also provided them with consumables, special kerosene, flint, cotton cores… If he really encountered problems with use, he also repaired for others.

Now every time he goes out, he likes to bring the British Dunhill lighter from World War II, and when his friends used to see it, they would say “there is a year” or “it looks so good” at most, and now they will exclaim, “This old antique can still be used.” The latter made Song Jiang feel more satisfied.