Who knew that a half-century before they produced their first car, the Peugeot family was making coffee grinders? And would continue to, for over 100 years? In 1840 the Peugeots produced their first moulin a cafe out of a combination of metal and wood. The beans were inserted into the metal hopper up top; metal gears were turned by a wooden-knob-capped metal crank; and the blade-cut grindings fell into a pull-out wooden drawer in the bottom of the housing.
The first models were utilitarian affairs, purely form follows function with little in the way of decoration. But later models began to display some craft confidence, as you can see in these shots from the Peugeot Museum in France, where the corners have received a style treatment.
Dates are tough to come by, but at some point they also began experimenting with cast-iron models as the Industrial Revolution took hold.
And I'm loving these little Oscar the Grouch models.
The all-metal designs did not supplant the wooden-bodied units, as we can see by these updated, color-splashed versions from the 1930s up top to the 1950s at bottom left.
This design dates from the 1940s (if this Etsy seller is to believed), and as you can see they've incorporated boxtail joints in the corners, perhaps signaling a shift towards greater industrialization. You see that joint on a lot of factory-produced furniture from the early part of the 20th Century, and the expensive slot-cutting machines required to produce it were the domain of big-time producers. Although I suppose it's possible they had the boxtails hand-cut, which I shudder to imagine.
At some point, presumably between the '30s and the '50s, they even experimented with sheet metal and Bakelite models.
By the 1960s Peugeot had gotten out of coffee mills, but to this day you can buy replicas of the old-school ones online, like these.
I find the replicas a bit tacky. For something a lot more designey, check out Peugeot Design Lab's recent Concept Coffee Grinder, a wall-mounted bad boy that can be handcranked. But if you're too tired to crank it because you haven't had any coffee yet, just hit the button at the center of the handle, and an electric motor will do all of the work.
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