HUM-204 Introduction To American Cultural Studies

Table of Contents


Choose an American cultural artifact of the 20th century. Write a paper discussing the artifact’s appearance (appearance), sound, shape, texture, etc.

You can also find the content.

In your analysis, you should include at most two sources from the library.

These sources can be books or journal articles.


Title: Zippo lighter: Twentieth century American artifact


Artifact Definition

Artifacts can be considered the cultural output of human beings.

These are man-made objects that have cultural significance.

Chua and Salmond (2012) suggested that cultural artifacts don’t always need to be tangible objects. But the idea extends far beyond.

It can be both tangible and intangible.

Folklore from a specific culture, for example, can be considered an artifact.

Artifacts can also include material objects that have been modified to meet the needs of human culture.

The first is known as non-material artifacts, while the latter is called material artifacts.

It is vital that the object serves a cultural purpose.

Any object that has been modified by man is considered artifact.

Background of the Zippo Lighter

This study will focus on the Zippo lighter, an American invention.

Blaisdell is the name of the inventor of the Zippo lighter, which is durable and easy-to-use.

Blaisdell invented the idea in 1930, and began manufacturing it in 33.

Under the name Zippo, the first lighter manufactured by Blaisdell is preserved at the Zippo or Case Museum in Bradford.

The modern zippo lighter is the same from every angle as the original stage ( 2017,e).

We will discuss the cultural significance of the lighter in the second part.

Form of the Artifact

Blaisdell, the inventor of the zippo lighter, came up with the idea to manufacture it in the 1930s at Bradford Country Club in Bradford (Pennsylvania).

The idea was borrowed from Cumbersome, an Australian-made lighter.

Zippo lighters were rectangular in shape when they first came out.

The lid of the small rectangular case was attached to a hinge.

There were two types of lighters: regular and slim.

Zippo lighters were made from first-grade steel which makes them extremely durable.

The Zippo lighters were made of first-grade steel, which gave them a long life span. They also had a lifetime guarantee.

The company offered this guarantee to consumers, which if it fails, the company would fix or replace the product at no cost.

To protect the flame from heavy winds, they also used a chimney on top of the lighter.

Customers loved the modern design and ease of use of this product.

Blaisdell gave it the name Zippo after modifying the word zipper to reflect his love for the sound ( 2017e).

During World War II, Zippo made its products inaccessible to the public.

Zippo used first-grade steel to make their cases.

The war caused a shortage of material for Zippo. Grade one steel was crucial for military industry.

Zippo began to paint their lighters in heavy black.

This was a benefit for Zippo as the lighter lighter lighter lighters could withstand harsher environments.

They keep the rectangular shape by using different materials and heavy black paint.

Zippo lighters proved to be able keep lit even in harsh conditions.

Ziaukas (2015) claimed that Zippo became a popular choice among soldiers because of this.

The US military was the first to use their products. They kept their original structure as it offered an operational advantage.

They developed a unique model that could be used by both ground and naval forces of the US, and began sending them overseas to their military counterparts.

Each Zippo lighter had a mark in the bottom of its case and inside the lighter’s body.

These markings changed over time.

The markings always represent the date of manufacture of each Zippo lighter ( 2017c).

Content of the Artifact

Ernie Pyle was both a war correspondent and a celebrity who received many Zippo lighters to distribute among soldiers.

Pyle wrote numerous letters to Blaisdell, thanking him for his generousity and expressing gratitude for his consideration of war heroes.

Pyle mentioned in many of his latters the high demand for Mr. Blaisdell’s lighter among soldiers.

Pyle also appreciated their remarkable work in manufacturing lighters that could withstand the harsh environments of warzone.

A separate design was also made for US Navy officials (Blazeski 2017, 2017).

Zippo lighters also have ruled the big screen.

Many of the films have Zippo lighters featured in multiple shots.

According to the website, 2017d, the lighter has been in over 2000 blockbuster movies.

Zippo’s videos are not restricted to the films.

Modern day random people upload a variety of videos to their youtube channels, showing Zippo lighters and sharing their collections with the audience.

Zippo also entered the literature world.

Zippo lighters have been the subject of many articles written by writers all over the globe.

Many people have presented and analysed the Zippo coding system.

Others have written about Zippo’s journey since its inception.

Manuals for Zippo lighters were even written by writers ( 2017, 2017a).

Zippo even has a museum that displays their manufactured lighters over the years.

Museum visitors can see the evolution of Zippo lighters.

They also brought back many lighters from celebrities and war soldiers to display in the museum ( 2017b).


It is clear that Zippo has had an impact on American culture.

People all over the globe love the Zippo lighter and are happy to add them to their collections.

The lighter is now a part of American culture and has become a well-known icon.

Refer to

Flames of War: Why Zippo lighters became one of America’s most iconic icons during World War II.

Artifacts in Anthropology.

SAGE Handbook of Social Anthropology 2, 101-114.

Zippo Case Study: Where have all the smokers gone?

Journal of Business Case Studies, 4, (9)

Carrying the Flame: Zippo Lighters in the Depression, WWII and at the Beach at Normandy.

Western Pennsylvania History, 1918-2016. 98(1).

How old is your Zippo lighter?

Our History.

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