Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Black Crackle

From Zippo's Site;

Zippo and World War II
No other event in history increased the popularity of Zippo lighters more than World War II. From 1943 through the end of WWII, Zippo’s entire production was allocated to the armed forces. The company archives are filled with letters detailing the services a Zippo lighter was called to perform: heating rations in a helmet, lighting campfires, sparking fuses for explosives, hammering nails and even signaling to fellow soldiers with the famous Zippo click. On several occasions, a Zippo lighter in a shirt or pants pocket even saved a life by deflecting bullets.
No wonder legendary war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote, “Getting hold of a Zippo (lighter) is like getting hold of a hunk of gold…There is truly nothing the average soldier would rather have.”

Because of a shortage of raw materials, WWII-era Zippo lighters were made of steel rather than brass, and dipped in a black protective coating to prevent rusting. Today collectors refer to these rare models as black crackle lighters.

Walter nadler WWII lighter
Walter Nadler
In the early 1990s, a Zippo employee found a genuine black crackle World War II-era lighter bearing a simple hand-carved inscription, “Walter Nadler” on the front and “June 6, 1944, 0630 France” on the back. As part of our D-Day 50th Anniversary initiative, Zippo launched an international
media search throughout the U.S. and France, seeking to find any details on Walter Nadler. Information from several sources led to Walter D. Nadler of Rahway, NJ, who landed on Normandy June 6, 1944, with the fighting 4th Division of the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, Nadler had passed away in 1990. The now famous Walter Nadler lighter is on display at the Zippo/Case Visitors Center in Bradford, PA.


  1. Ethan, i kno you from sufu.... i thought you might be intersted to know, when i originally read this i almost fell over! when i saw Rahway NJ i realized this was my friends grandfather, im from NJ right next to Rahway and am friends of the Nadler family. i spoke with him over the weekend and he couldnt believe the story made it so far, unfortunately the family does not have the lighter :[ great post mate! "Vinneus"

  2. Thanks for the comment, Vinneus - it is certainly a small world. I bought my black crackle from a Japanese seller of Zippo's a few years back, to keep in line with my love of WWII replicas.It's a shame that the Nadler piece isn't still with the family, but hopefully the good people at Zippo have presented them with a black crackle to remember him by. Now should I scratch my name into mine, I wonder.....