A Profile of Colibri – One of America’s Leading Butane Providers
Founded in 1928 by Julius Lowenthal, the Colibri brand has been synonymous with quality and sophistication among a wide ranging line of products that include not only butane cigar and cigarette lighters, but an exquisite selection of men’s accessories such as billfolds, watches, writing instruments and jewelry.
The Colibri name has a long and interesting history. Let’s take a look back at this fascinating brand over the course of the last 9 decades.
- The Early Years (1928 – 1950)
Julius Lowenthal launched the Colibri company in Germany with his brother Benno after the First World War. Their first product was the Colibri Original, a luxury lighter that eliminated some of the problems that were inherent to the flint wheel lighter that was the defacto standard for smokers at that time. In the 1930’s Mr. Lowenthal received a patent for his technology and initiated a move to London where he set up Colibri Lighters Ltd. This move proved to be most fortuitous considering events that were about to transpire in WW II. In 1935 Colibri introduced the ‘Monopol” lighter, the first fully automatic lighter featuring an acceleration system. This innovation was followed by the development and introduction of the ‘Stormgard’ lighter that was marketed to soldiers in WW II. After the War, Colibri embarked on a journey of innovation that resulted in a series of new breakthroughs in lighter technology over the ensuing 4 decades. These included sport lighters, multi-function lighters and a large selection of smoking accessories.
- Growth and Innovation (1951 – 1980)
A generational transition at Colibri took place in 1952 when Julius Lowenthal’s son Jack joined Colibri. As the company grew and expanded its lineup of innovative lighters the name Colibri became even more widely known as a result of their invention of a visible, multi fuel refill as well as a flint delivery system based on a small hydraulic cylinder. The 1950’s also saw the introduction of the Monopol Watch that was made exclusively for Colibri by Swiss watch makers. Trivia buffs will be delighted to learn that the gun in the James Bond Film “Man With the Golden Gun” was constructed by Colibri out of parts from their Molectric 88 Silver lighter introduced in 1967. Other unique creations during this time period were Colibri’s invention of the piezo electric lighter in 1961 as well as the ‘Sensatron’ battery operated torch lighter in 1977.
- Moving forward (1981 – 2000)
Ownership and control of Colibri remained within the Lowenthal family as Jack’s son David joined the company in 1980. During this time frame the organization expanded their product lines and brand to include such items as Swiss watches, cuff links and a line of writing tools. This expansion into products not connected to smoking was a direct response to the decreasing popularity of smoking among the general public as well as the proliferation of cheap disposable lighters. The focus on innovative lighters for smokers never diminished, however, as Colibri continued to roll out a long line of new and improved lighters and accessories. This new products included the 3 way wind resistant lighter called the Power Flame Plus in 1982 as well as the 1987 introduction of the first windproof lighter, the Quantum.
- A New age (2001 – Present)
In 2009, Colibri changed ownership and as a result of that change, moved their operations and head office to New York City were they are located today. The original Colibri logo design included a lion, symbolizing the name Lowenthal, juxtaposed with a hummingbird outline, as the word “colibri” is the genus name for a hummingbird. In 2011 the logo was changed to just a simple hummingbird design as a result of the change in ownership within the company. While changes in ownership and marketing strategies have occurred, the endless stream of new ideas and innovations hasn’t stopped. Some examples of recently introduced products include the Trifecta, a triple flame lighter, as well as an ultra-high altitude ignition lighter system called The Summit.
Today, Colibri markets their product all over the world. You will find their fine line of products available in six continents. In addition to this distinctive selection of men’s accessories and lighters, Colibri has developed a premium line of butane fuel that is compatible with all of their lighters. This butane is refined to Colibri’s exacting standards by refineries operating in the cleanest environments imaginable. Through this unique process, Colibri butane fuels are able to achieve 99.9994% purity, ensuring that your lighter will work first time and every time you use it. This type of attention to quality makes it possible for smokers to enjoy their favorite blend of tobacco without any residual taste or odors from the lighter fuel. For almost one hundred years, the name Colibri has been a bellwether sign of quality and sophistication for smokers all over the world.