1870s Primitive Coffee Grinder Mill with Cigar Box Drawer

1870s Primitive Coffee Grinder Mill with Cigar Box Drawer


Constructed during the late Victorian era in the 1870s, this traditional mill was used to grind coffee beans by hand. The coffee beans would have been poured into the metal receiver and the wooden knob handle would have been cranked, causing the beans to be ground by the interior burr in a process similar to that of the stone mills used in historic grain manufacture. The coffee grounds would then drop into the lower drawer, which could be removed for easy retrieval for the remainder of the coffee making process.

The body of the mill is solid wood with a fascinating use of dovetail construction, imperfect yet durable, and created by a craftsman with attention to detail. In its long lifetime, it has been refinished multiple times, as evidenced by its textured finish caused by layering and exposure to sun and the kitchen environment.

What sets this item apart from the sea of antique mills available is its drawer, the bottom of which has been replaced since the mill’s original manufacture. What once was likely a matching wood to the rest of the drawer has been substituted by a portion of an old cigar box, notably colorful with bright blues, reds, and greens, yellows, whites and browns. The detailed design is highlighted by heavy, raised and reflective gold gilding throughout. If you look very closely, there is additional handwritten cursive writing along the edges of the image. This cigar box segment is visible on the base side of the drawer bottom, invisible except upon inspection, and an incredibly happy surprise, indeed.  

This grinder is nearly 150 years old and has seen much use and many more cups of joe. Even for its age, it is in working condition and could easily be used once again. Display on your kitchen shelf for a touch of farmhouse charm, add to your collection of antique kitchen-ware, or arrange as an eclectic and creative objet d'interet.

  • Maker: Unknown

  • Material: Wood, metal, paper, pigment, gilding

  • Epoch: c. 1870 mill with replacement makeshift cigar box drawer bottom

  • Dimensions: 10”H x 7.5”W x 7.25”D; 3.5 lbs

  • Procurement: Dallas, Texas

  • Origin: Unknown

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