Alfred Dunhill ‘Aquarium’ lighter, 1950s
Price Code: £££
An ‘Aquarium’ table lighter in the rarer ‘Service’ size, with gilded (gold-plated) hardware, with a grey, yellow and dark green background to all panels with one pink, black and yellow fish to the front, and three pink fish to the reverse, with rock and reed details on all sides. English, circa 1950. This lighter is fully operational with cotton wick, wadding and flint fitted.
Length: 2½ inches (6 cm).
The ‘Aquarium’ lighters were all designed and hand-made by Ben Shillingford (1904-2000), whose unique skills in designing, carving and hand-painting the Perspex panels could never be equalled. Upon his retirement, the skills necessary to continue to manufacture the ‘Aquarium’ lighter could not be found, and production ceased.
No two ‘Aquarium’ lighters are the same – each is, in its way, a unique work of art. The vast majority, logically, depict aquatic scenes, of either sea-water or fresh-water fish (but never both). A very small number of lighters depict non-aquatic scenes – hunting, horse-racing and aviary subjects in particular.
The ‘Aquarium’ lighter was made in two sizes, the ‘Half-Giant’ and the smaller (and somewhat rarer) ‘Service’ size. They were available in three metal finishes, namely gold-plated, silver-plated and chromium-plated, and all were, of course, fuelled with petrol rather than butane, which came into common usage in the 1960s.
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