Crystal Arcade coffee grinder jars (Arcade No. 3)By

Crystal Arcade coffee grinder jars
(Arcade No. 3)

The Arcade Manufacturing Company of Freeport, Illinois was an iron foundry in operation from the late 1800s to the Depression. Arcade is probably best known for its extensive line of realistic cast iron toys but made other iron items as well.

After toys, the other most sought Arcade collectible is probably their canister-type wall mounted coffee mills. The mill itself was cast iron but the canister that held the coffee beans on top of the mill was clear glass. A second much smaller glass container caught the ground coffee at the bottom of the mill.

Original mills, made of nearly indestructible cast iron, are in much greater supply than the original easily broken glass canisters. A source in Wisconsin offered reproductions of the glass canister which held the coffee beans on the Crystal Arcade No. 3 mill.

New glass canisters are relatively easy to detect. The easiest way is probably with a black light. Old jars fluoresce a yellow-green; new jars do not. In ordinary light, old jars are clear colorless glass; new jars are a fruit-jar aqua colored glass.

Another easy test is to hold the suspected glass jar with the embossed lettering facing you. With the jar in this position, threads on the large opening of new jars have a definite break above the embossed lettering. Threading in the old jars do not have a break and is smooth and continuous. We tried several times but were unable to get an original metal lid screwed on the new jar.

Old jars are also much lighter in weight than new jars. Old weigh about 17 oz. or just slightly more than a pound. New weigh twice as much, running at 32 oz. or just at 2 pounds.

The new glass jar for this article was bought directly from the source which had the jars made. Total cost was $25 which included shipping. For those looking for a replacement glass, this might be welcome news. But keep in mind that some of new jars will be "married" to old mills and offered as originals.


Fig. 1 New canister on left, original on right


Fig. 2 Cast iron mill with original glass canister.


Fig. 3 (New) Showing break in threads above lettering


Fig. 4 (Old) Showing pair of continuous threads