Array ST Dupont store, avenue Montaigne, Paris

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S.T. Dupont

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If someone today told you that they were to build a luxury business out of cigarette lighters, you'd probably thing they were mad. Yet the company founded by Simon Tissot Dupont in 1872 has done just that, and quite a lot more.

In fact cigarette lighters were not the first thing they manufactured. The initial business of making carriages came to a quick end after a fire, but things went much better after S.T. bough a workshop that made luxury briefcases and following his death, his sons decided to continue in this vein, specialising in very high quality (and thus expensive) personal items. Wartime led them into the lighter business, and the first petrol lighter was patented by them in 1941.

Branching out into watches, perfume, pens and men's fashion contributed further to their success, and as part of a leap into the 21st Century, several branded USB drives are now available (although at 100 euros for 1GB, it may not be the cheapest option).

Despite a real know-how passed down from generation to generation, recent years have not been kind to the company, and a fire in their main manufacturing plant in 2008 was an extra blow. Perhaps frequenting their avenue Montaigne outlet could be your contribution to keeping the company afloat?

photo: JasonW

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Bus BAL, 23, 42, 73, 80, 83, 93

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