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
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
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
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
The neck on the body of the mill is embossed
Here are a few close-ups of the Crystal No. 1 mill.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
You can see the difference in the legs; this is the easiest tell-tale
sign between the two.
Below are a couple pictures of a beautiful No. 2
mill from Robert Palmer's personal collection.
(Robert is the current treasurer of ACME.)
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.
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
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")
This picture shows the original box the No. 25s
were shipped in.
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
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.
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.
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