Arcade Crystal Coffee Mills - Part 1


 

The Arcade Crystal Mills are some of the most popular among collectors and yet a source of much confusion. These happen to be one our favorite mills, so here we will try to give some facts about them.

There is a lot of confusing information regarding the Arcade crystal coffee mills. You often see marriages from different models of the Crystal mills put together and passed off as original or complete, when they are actually made up of different parts from different models. If you do not know what the original should be, it can be very confusing. Here we will try to present some facts if we can. This information comes from a lot of very knowledgeable people in the coffee grinder world, but we are always learning new things about Arcade. This page will be updated on an on-going basis.

The Arcade Mfg Co. made a number of the Crystal mills from the 1900s to the 1930s. For some reason, the Crystal No. 3 was the most popular and is seems to be the most desirable among collectors today. These are the most valuable, although the No. 4, which is the second most desirable, has been catching up to the No. 3 in the last few years in value. The No. 25 is the least expensive and most easily found. The No.1 & No. 2 are the most difficult to find. These last two don't seem to have a lot of fans, but I think that is mostly because people just don't know about them. (A few more of the No. 1's have been showing up lately.)

---

Arcade Crystal No. 1 Mill


arcade crystal no 1     arcade crystal no 1


The first Crystal mill was the No. 1 just after 1900. They were clearly marked "Crystal No. 1" on the metal plate of the grinder. The most distinctive feature of the the No. 1 mill are the two little washers under the bottom plate that held the receiving jar with a top rim. Their receiving jars fell off easily, and it was difficult finding replacements because of the needed top rim.

As for the bean hopper on the No. 1, it is a plain jar, lipped around the neck with a rubber gasket. It has no wording or markings, nor does does it have any threads. As far as we know, the lids on the No. 1's were also plain (not embossed with the Arcade logo as the later models were).  The neck on the body of the mill is embossed ARCADE.

Here are a few close-ups of the Crystal No. 1 mill.

 

arcade crystal no 1   arcade no 1   arcade no 1

arcade crystal no 1   arcade crystal no 1

 

The original catch cups for the No. 1 are EXTREMELY rare.  There are only 2 or 3 known to be in existence, hence they are virtually priceless.  (We happen to be the proud owners of one of these original catch cups, and no, it is not for sale.)  The catch cup was not marked in any way, but it's unique design makes them easily recognized if you know what you are looking for.  Virtually all of them got broken over the years due to the design of these first Arcade Crystal mills.  Over the years, the rubber washers would harden and easily break, then the cup would fall off and break on the floor.  Any kind of replacement cups were difficult to find as it needs a lip or ridge around the top to fit in between the two rubber washers.

The No. 1 mills were made from 1905-1913.  Arcade greatly improved the Crystal mills with the release of the No. 2 mill, which introduced the cup holding bracket.

---

Arcade Crystal No. 2 Mill

arcade no 2


The Crystal No. 2 mill has been a mystery that is becoming better understood. There were two styles of the Crystal No. 2 mill, an early style and a later style with the same model number. This adds to the confusion about these mills.

To add further to the confusion, the first Crystal No. 2 mills were still marked "
Crystal No. 1" on the metal plate as they used up the left-over inventory from the No. 1 mills.  (This model is shown in the above picture.)  This earliest style of the No. 2 was in the same design as the No. 1 with the addition of the bottom cup holder. There are still remnants of the rubber grommets that held the catch cup on the No. 1s (it looks like they just cut off the grommets and left the little knobs sticking up on each side so they didn't have to re-mold the metal plate), but they added the bottom cup holder. The No. 2 was a big improvement because ordinary jelly jars could be used for replacement receiver cups, and the spring-tension holder secured the jars better for less breakage.

Some unofficially call the first style of the No. 2 mills the "1-1/2" mill to distinguish it from the later style of the No. 2 shown below.

 The stock finish for No. 2s were black, but for an extra charge, you could get them in blue enamel, oxidized copper or nickel plate finish.

The original hopper on these early No. 2 mills were plain jars with a lipped neck and no threads (just like the No. 1's), but also had a sticker on them. (This also adds to the confusion: having the metal plate that says No. 1 with a top jar saying No. 2.) Very few of these have survived with the original decal; it adds a lot of value to the mill.  Here we show an authentic No. 2 hopper with the original sticker, rubber gasket and lid.

   arcade no 2   arcade no 2 hopper

                                     Earlier Hopper            -                   Later Hopper


In the later style of the No. 2, Arcade redesigned the entire mill. One would think this would have prompted an entirely new model number, but it didn't. From our knowledge, this later style first appeared in one of Arcade's trade catalogs around 1916.

With these later No. 2s Arcade introduced the style on which they based their No. 3, which became their most popular model.

In this updated design, Arcade changed the hopper and the grinding mechanism entirely. They also introduced the famous cursive label on the bean hopper so popularized by the model No. 3, but in the No. 2s it is without the model number and they were still not threaded.

--- 

 The metal body of the No. 2 closely resembles the No. 3 with a few distinct differences if you know what to look for. It was with these mills that they changed the flourishes and introduced the easily recognized fleur-de-lis pattern on the metal body.

Here are the two major differences:
1) The later No. 2 has a narrower, flared leg with just one screw hole whereas the No. 3 has two.
2) The handle on the No. 2 is embossed with a decorative design whereas it is smooth on the No. 3.

Here is a picture of the body of a Crystal No. 2 and No. 3 mill side by side.
You can see the difference in the legs; this is the easiest tell-tale sign between the two.

arcade no 2   arcade no 3

 

Below are a couple pictures of a beautiful No. 2 mill from Robert Palmer's personal collection.
(Robert is the current treasurer of ACME.)

arcade no 2   arcade no 2

The above close-up shows the third major difference between the No. 2 and No. 3. If you notice the arrow pointing to the center part of the mill that is flattened out as it meets the handle, this area is embossed with decorations. With the No. 3 mills, this is smooth. This picture also highlights the embossed/decorative handle of the No. 2 mill, which is again smooth on the No. 3.

 

 The original catch cup for the Arcade No. 2 is known as Arcade's "generic" glass cup that was used for a number of their early mills. This catch cup was used for their Golden Rule mill, Bell mill, Monarch mill, Crystal No. 2 and Crystal No. 25 mills.

generic arcade catch cup   generic arcade catch cup

 These cups are clearly marked "ARCADE MFG CO FREEPORT ILL"

---

The next Crystal mill Arcade made was the Crystal No. 25. This one has Arcade stamped on the metal lid of the glass bean hopper, and the bean jar is clearly marked "
Arcade 25" in capital, block-type letters. These mills are fairly plain but can be found very easily and are the least expensive of all the Crystal mills.

The metal body of the No. 25 is plain or smooth but it is marked "
ARCADE" on the neck of the metal body without any model number. As with the No. 1 and 2, the hopper for the No. 25 is lipped with a rubber gasket, not threaded.

We have know idea why they named it the 25.
Perhaps they first thought of it as 2.5 ???  (Some of the Crystal No. 4 mills are marked "
40")

arcade no 25   arcade no 25

arcade no 25

This picture shows the original box the No. 25s were shipped in.

arcade crystal no 25

As you can see, this original catch cup for the No. 25 is the "generic" Arcade glass cup mentioned above.

---

After the No. 25s, Arcade made their most popular mills, the No. 3 & 4.
The entire next page is dedicated to these two mills.

---

After the No. 4, Arcade also went on to produce an art deco style Crystal grinder, the No. 9010, in the late 1920s. This was the last of the mills in the Crystal series.  Again, we have no idea as to their numbering system.

 

arcade crystal 9010

arcade crystal 9010   arcade crystal 9010

There were not many of these mills produced (in comparison to their most popular, No. 3, mill) and they are just starting to really catch on with collectors. The cool art deco style was perfect for the 1920s.

---

Arcade also made other crystal mills for other companies who then put their own names on them. It can become quite confusing when trying to track down information regarding a very specific design.

 


Back to Top