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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Zippo/Case WWII Artifacts
Headed to Pittsburgh History Center

One of the Zippo/Case Museum’s most historically significant pieces– a lighter that was hand engraved on a landing craft en route to the D-Day invasion – is currently on loan, along with several other WWII-era artifacts from the Zippo and Case archives, to the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh for a special exhibit opening Saturday, April 25, 2015. The Zippo/Case Museum pieces will be featured in the upcoming “We Can Do It! WWII” exhibit, which explores how Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania affected the home front and battlefield during WWII.
“We’re honored to be able to share so many of our important historical pieces with the Heinz History Center,” said Pat Grandy, Zippo Corporate Media and Communications Manager. “Zippo and Case’s reputation for dependable products was cemented by our performance during WWII. We have so many letters, images and artifacts from WWII in the Zippo/Case Museum, it was hard to choose only a few, but we feel they make an important contribution to the exhibit.”
Under a special agreement, the Zippo/Case Museum loaned the Smithsonian-affiliated Heinz History Center several key pieces from the corporate archives. Along with the special lighter, known as the Walter Nadler lighter, the museum also sent images and advertisements from the time period, and a recreation of the V-42 Stiletto, which W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Co. developed from the museum’s original V-42 Stiletto and is producing in limited quantities.

Zippo also donated several containers of sand from the D-Day landing site referred to as Omaha Beach. A vial of this sand, obtained with special permission from the city of Saint Laurent sur Mer, France, was included in each Zippo D-Day 60th anniversary collectible in 2004.

The Walter Nadler lighter was rediscovered in the Zippo archives in the 90s. It was an authentic WWII-period lighter with the black crackle finish that had been crudely hand-engraved with the name “Walter Nadler” on one side, and “June 6, 1944 0630. France,” on the other.

How the lighter made it from France to Bradford was a mystery. So Zippo launched a a nationwide search for Walter Nadler, which led to contact with his son, Walter “Bud” Nadler who verified the story of his father’s lighter and D-Day experience.

The Walter Nadler lighter story is explored in detail, along with Zippo’s founding during the Great Depression and the company’s incredible success and growth during WWII, in the current issue of Western Pennsylvania History magazine. The article was written by Tim Ziaukas, Professor of Public Relations at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, who utilized never-before-shared interviews with Zippo owners Sarah Dorn and George Duke, the daughter and grandson of Zippo founder George G. Blaisdell.

“The story of Zippo Manufacturing Company is not only one of Pennsylvania’s great tales, it’s one of America’s,” Ziaukas said. “I’m happy to have been able to get a version of this important Bradford story on the record.”

The Spring 2015 articles will be available to read for free on the Heinz History Center’s website,

Pictured (top),Linda Meabon (left), Zippo Ambassador, and Shirley Evers, Zippo Historian, remove a WWII-era lighter with an intriguing history from display at the Zippo/Case Museum. The lighter, along with other artifacts from the museum, are on loan to the Smithsonian-affiliated Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.; the Walter Nadler lighter was engraved en route to the D-Day invasion in 1944. The lighter is on loan to the Smithsonian-affiliated Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh and was also featured in an article in the Western Pennsylvania History magazine; Case Cutlery has developed a near perfect re-creation of its original museum V-42 Stiletto, a fighting knife manufactured exclusively by Case during WWII and made famous by its use by the First Special Service Force, also known as the Devil’s Brigade.
Photos courtesy of Zippo/Case

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