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Object Name: Cigar lighter
Date: ca. 1946
Related People:
Medium: 14K gold, cotton
Dimensions: Overall: 1 3/4 × 2 1/4 × 1/4 in. (4.4 × 5.7 × 0.6 cm)
Place made: Newark
Description: Gold, rectangular cigarette lighter with rounded sides decorated with machine-engraved striated vertical and horizontal panels; obverse has central plaque engraved “L. A. G.” Upper section of lighter has lever mechanism activated by pressing down at right to reveal cotton wick at left. Bottom is oblong gold plate attached to upper body with two gold screws.
Credit Line: Gift of Lois Greene Stone and Gerald E. Stone, M.D.
Object Number: 2016.16
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Marks: Underside of lighter is stamped (around and between bolts): “U.S. PATENTS / RE. 19023 / D 145217” and “RONSON ADONIS / TRADEMARK / NEWARK. N. J. U.S. A. / 001981” and “14K”.

Gallery Label:

The mechanism of this cigar lighter was patented initially in 1926 (and reissued in 1933) and its design was patented in 1946, both by Ronson Art Metal Works, Inc. Ronson was founded in 1886 by Louis V. Aronson (1870-1940), a New York City chemist and manufacturer. Aronson developed and patented many inventions during his career, including a “safety-match” that ignited with a non-phosphorous combustion process that permitted it to spark in windy weather conditions. In 1926, Aronson patented a “quick-start,” or banjo lighter with an “automatic operation” that activated or extinguished flames with a single push. Although the firm initially manufactured metal toys, novelties, and small appliances, Ronson’s automatic lighters were an immediate success. From that time the firm manufactured numerous types of fashionable, sturdy pocket and table lighters. Today, vintage Ronson lighters are a favorite among smoking accessory collectors. The firm still survives, and was purchased by the Zippo Manufacturing Company in 2010.

Provenance:

This lighter was a gift from Marion Metz Greene to her husband Leo A. Greene.

Following Leo's death, Marion gave the lighter to her son-in-law Gerald E. Stone, M.D. after he married their daughter, Lois. The lighter was placed in a safe-deposit box until its donation to the New-York Historical Society.