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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Coffee Anyone?

On exhibit in the History Center now is this coffee grinder from the Billett Store.

This original turn-of-the-century coffee grinder was made commercially for grinding coffee in large quantities; thus, it would have been on a counter top in a general store or in places like hotels and restaurants. (Not so sure about restaurants in Billett, and I could be wrong, but I don't think there was a hotel in Billet. Feel free to correct me, people of Billett.)

The coffee grinder is 16 1/4 inches by 21 1/ inches by 10 1/4 inches and weighs ALOT. It was manufactured by the "Elgin National Coffee Mill Company". The name is embossed on the grinder wheel.

The one from the Billett store is a large version, hand-painted in red, with original paint. It is missing the original tin coffee receptacle at the base, and the cast brass eagle finial at the top of the hopper.

To operate, slide the disc- like top of the hopper over and pour coffee beans in the compartment; close and then turn the wheel by the wooden handle and the coffee beans will be ground, dropping into the tin receptacle below.

The Elgin National Coffee Mill Manufacturing Company was established in Elgin, Illinois in 1889 and became the Woodruff & Edwards Co, in 1900. A fire destroyed the company in 1917.

(If you are a frequent shopper at antique malls, flea markets, ebay, etc and if you find an original brass eagle to restore our coffee grinder, please consider buying it and donating it to the History Center. Brass eagles were also made for flag poles and lamps, so try to find the one for the coffee grinder.)

A store owner could purchase one of these coffee grinders for $4.68 from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.

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