Vintage coffee grinders are fantastic art pieces, and since they survived years of usage, there’s no denying their durability.
That’s why these simple kitchen appliances are still for sale at a surprisingly mid to high price range.
Whether you’re planning to buy one because you’re into antiques or found one in your family’s attic, it’s ideal to know how to date an antique coffee grinder.
Why Are Antique Coffee Grinders Valuable Anyway?
You can make money from antique coffee grinders by auctioning or selling them to a collector.
Alternatively, some keep it as a valuable family heirloom or as an addition to their antique collection.
Vintage coffee grinders work well as displays or decorations; after all, they are perfect conversation starters when you have visitors.
If you’re lucky, you might find old coffee grinders that are still functional. You can store or display them in your coffee corner, ready for use anytime.
How To Date an Antique Coffee Grinder
Antique coffee grinders are mostly manual-operated tabletop or wall-mounted types with natural, rustic colors. They usually have cast-iron, porcelain, glass, brass, or wooden construction.
Some have patterns or designs, often engraved manually, especially if the grinder is made of wood and cast iron.
However, some manufacturers take inspiration from classic coffee grinders and design retro-styled products.
Thus, there is a possibility that what you are keeping or planning to purchase isn’t a true vintage coffee grinder.
It’s best to determine the exact date of your coffee grinder’s production or existence by carefully scrutinizing it and checking the following:
Coffee grinders, like most products, usually have inscriptions, some of which include the manufacturing date.
It is the most straightforward way to date your antique coffee grinder, so you are lucky if yours has one.
You will usually find it at the bottom of the appliance or near the brand's logo, symbol, or name.
Patent or Serial Number
Branded coffee grinders will have unique patent or serial numbers engraved.
Like the manufacture date, it is usually found at the bottom of the product or near the brand logo, symbol, or name.
Once you find it, you can type the numbers on Google to show you the coffee grinder’s production date and patent application, approval, and issuance.
Otherwise, you may refer to the MacMillan Index of Antique Coffee Mills book, where you’ll find several serial numbers referenced by many coffee mill or grinder collectors.
How Much Is an Antique Coffee Grinder Worth?
Now that you know how to date an antique coffee grinder and know how old it is, you might be wondering how much it’s worth.
Vintage coffee grinders can be anywhere from a hundred to a thousand dollars.
The best way to know the exact value is to bring your grinder to two or more professional appraisers or auctioneers.
Before doing so, you will also need to check the following factors that can affect your old coffee grinder’s value:
Brand or Manufacturer
Humans started using and inventing manual-operated coffee grinders centuries ago, while electrical models were manufactured in 1938 and became famous in the 1950s.
It goes without saying that there were already a lot of manufacturers or brands in the past.
Some still exist but bear a different name, often because another company bought the brand after years in the industry.
It may also be because it merged with another company. Others stopped offering coffee grinders and focused on their other products.
With those in mind, the older and more established the manufacturer is, the more valuable your coffee grinder is.
Its value also increases if the company no longer exists or produces coffee grinders or halted the production of that specific model.
With that in mind, some of the most famous coffee grinder manufacturers are:
- Arcade Manufacturing Co.: 1885 to 1930
- Charles Parker Co.: 1860 to 1950 (C-P-C symbol before 1920; Parker inscription from 1920 onwards)
- Enterprise Manufacturing Company: 1864 to early 20th century
- Landers, Frary, and Clark: 1866 to 1970s
- Logan & Strobridge: 1887
- Armin Trosser: 1930d to late 1950s
- ELMA: 1924
- Kenrick: 1850 to 1948
- Pe De Dienes: “koffee” engraving (different fonts every after few years)
As an everyday kitchen item, more so in the past, the coffee grinder dealt with lots of abuse and use for years.
Most of these grinders have also been stored improperly.
Fortunately, some are more durable than others, so they have better conditions than other vintage coffee grinders.
Here are some of the visible signs of wear and tear that appraisers or buyers will look for:
- Appearance: Old coffee grinders can have stains due to coffee and environmental elements. You can try removing them, but make sure you follow the proper procedure and use the right cleaning solutions.
- Cracks, Dents, Scratches: Common for glass, porcelain, and wooden coffee grinders, these imperfections can be due to temperature and humidity changes, bumps, and the like.
- Rust: The movable parts, such as the inner workings and handle, especially those made of cast iron, will rust over time. This is mostly because of exposure to water and oxidation. Rust is not just an eyesore but can also affect the grinder’s functionality. Fortunately, you can clean up minor rusting.
- Functionality: Antique coffee grinders that still work are more expensive than non-functional ones, which you can only use as decorations.
Do note that except for rust and functionality, these signs of usage don’t necessarily decrease the value of your vintage coffee grinder.
Some collectors are willing to pay a higher amount because the cracks, stains, and other changes in the appearance make the device more vintage-looking.
Your Antique Coffee Grinder’s Age and Value
Don't just appreciate your antique coffee grinder’s beauty, quality, functionality, and cost. Find out how old it really is and learn about its history.
Having more knowledge about your vintage coffee grinder will not only make conversations with people interesting.
At the same time, it will help you decide better whether or not the price a buyer or seller is offering is reasonable.
Use our guide to dating an antique coffee grinder as your starting point.