A few months back, I was on look out for a smokers desk top set. Not really even knowing whether exactly what I wanted was actually going to be for sale anywhere, or had even ever been made. The one company with beautiful smokers accessories dating back to the early 20th century was Ronson.
I've owned a fair amount of their lighters over the years and honestly thought, there's nothing really special about these. And a lot of the time, picking pocket lighters up from Antique shops or even car boot sales they were near impossible to get working. Knowing only the basics lighter maintainance, (changing the wick, flint and filling the petrol up) it wasn't long before I had collected countless Zippos which are much more reliable and easy to maintain, but never looking elegant enough or a real prized design piece.
More recently however favouring aesthestics from the Art Deco period over Mid Century design principles it was back to Ronson that I sought inspiration and was enthralled by the beauty of their designs form and function. I was amazed by their Touch Tip lighter the most. Seen in the film The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor.
(the use of the Touch Tip is at 3 mins 15 seconds, if you don't fancy the 7 minutes)
<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zSd_MCIIKNk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
As I write this a Touch Tip Lighter with Cigarette Dispenser below is currently on Ebay with three days left at £75.00. I have to be restrained from bidding though interested to see what it will actually go for.
The Ronson lighter company started as The Art Metal Works in 1886 by Louis V. Aronson, a gifted man who at 16 years old received a U.S. patent for a commercially valuable metal plating process he developed. The following year he moved his factory to Newark, New Jersey. Soon the company was producing a variety of high quality lamps, book ends, statues and other decorative items, prized today for their detail in the collector marketplace.
And so they went on designing, what probably are works art and what had to have a huge influence on Glamour in The Roaring Twenties and through the 1930's aswell.
A sure must for any serious Art Deco or Ronson collector "The Bartender" Touch Tip.
At present I own two 1930's Ronson case/lighters. The "Pal" and the "Patrician". Both fairly inexpensive considering their age and in full working condition. My favourite being the Patrician, with it's obvious Art Deco shape and angles, it never fails to raise admiring glances and remarks while still being fairly masculine in jet black and chrome.
I was lucky enough to even buy it with my middle intials on!
With a new flat soon to move into, for me, 1920's design pieces are on the wish list. Being this beautiful how could they not be!