Coffee grinders were useful status symbols for grocery stores

Terry and Kim Kovel
Kovel's Antiques and Collecting
This strange looking cast-iron tool is a coffee grinder. Beans go in the top, the lid is put in place and the beans are ground and drop into the lower section mounted on a wooden base. It sold for $413 a few years ago.

In the 1950s, there were still A&P grocery stores that only sold bags of coffee beans that had to be ground in a large iron grinder in the store, even though there were other brands of ground beans in bags. The customer chose the type and could grind it or ask a clerk to help. Some health food stores today still sell customers freshly ground coffee.

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company founded in Philadelphia in 1864 was one of the leading makers of both large store grinders and small iron grinders to be used at home. They also made juicers, Mrs. Potts sad irons, banks, tobacco cutters and other kitchen tools. The Enterprise store grinder made from 1886 to 1898 was 42 inches high and had two 25-inch-diameter wheels. It was a useful, expensive, status symbol for the grocery store. They were usually painted red or green with added decal decorations.

The 19th-century kitchen coffee grinder could be an iron grinder that emptied into a wooden box and made up to four servings or a wall-mounted grinder that could handle a pound of beans at a time. Collectors today like the cast-iron wall-mounted type with brass trim and a wooden drawer that caught the ground coffee. Most are desirable are those with an eagle finial and a cast iron stand.

Pictured is an Enterprise No. 1 cast iron coffee grinder in an unusual shape. It is 12 inches high and mounted on a wooden base. It sold at a Conestoga auction for $413.

May 9:Current antique prices

Question: How much is a Snoopy Astronaut doll worth? It’s made of plastic and is nine inches tall. Snoopy is wearing his zippered spacesuit but is missing his plastic helmet and flight safety air pack. I got him when I was 9 years old, and he’s in “played with” condition.

Answer: Determined Productions made this Snoopy Astronaut doll in 1969, the year Apollo 10 made its voyage to the moon. Snoopy’s connection to the space program began in 1968 when NASA chose Snoopy as the mascot for its flight safety program and established the Silver Snoopy Award. Apollo 10 astronauts named their lunar module “Snoopy” and their command module “Charlie Brown,” and those were the call letters for the flight. The doll originally came dressed in a spacesuit, flight shoes, cap, large plastic helmet, flight safety pack and red scarf. Toys in perfect condition and with the original box sell for the most. They are often toys bought by adult collectors and not played with. Snoopy Astronaut, complete with all accessories and original box, sells for about $200, without the box for $100, and incomplete and not in good condition for $20 or less.

Q: I have a Moreau bannister lamp with figures of two women. One is holding a book and seems to be explaining something to the other one. There are large leaves behind them. It’s 26 inches high and has three light bulbs. The base is signed “Auguste Moreau,” and there is a brass tag that says “Bonne Novelle, par Aug. Moreau (Med. D’Or).” How old is it, and what is it worth?

A: Auguste Moreau (1834-1917) was a French sculptor who worked from 1860 to 1910. He and his father and two brothers designed light fixtures, many with sculptured figures. The words “Bonne Novelle” is French for “Good News.” Your lamp is a newel-post lamp that was attached to a post at the bottom of the stairs. They were popular in Victorian times. Bronze statues by Moreau sell for several thousand dollars. If your lamp is only spelter with a bronze finish, it would sell for about $500.

Q: While digging in my garden, I found a shard of amber glass with the word “healthy” still visible. Is it from an old medicine bottle?

A: Most likely, an amber shard with the word “healthy” is from a Tower Root Beer amber quart bottle from 1963. It was made in Charlestown, Massachusetts. A bottle in perfect condition sells for about $35.

Q: I bought an old upright Story & Clark grand piano for just the “moving” charge of $60 in 1973. Can you give me any information about it?

A: Hampton Story, his son, Edward, and Melville Clark founded Story & Clark in Chicago in 1884. The company made reed organs and was incorporated as the Story & Clark Organ Company in 1888. Pianos were first made in 1895 under the name The Story & Clark Piano Co. The company was sold to Lowery Organ Company in 1962. The brand was sold twice more and has been part of QRS Music Technologies since 1993. Upright grand pianos, with strings running vertically not horizontally, became popular in the late 1800s. Find the year your piano was made by checking the serial number, usually found on a metal plate inside the lid or stamped on the back of the piano. You can find the date by checking the number with the website Serial numbers and dates are also listed in “Pierce Piano Atlas,” a book that may be in a local library. Old pianos are hard to sell. Price depends on the maker, style and condition. Uprights don’t sell as well as grand pianos. A local piano store can give you an idea of the value of your piano.

TIP: Don’t drag heavy furniture. Get some slider disks ahead of time and be ready when they are needed. The disks are found at most hardware stores.

Terry and Kim Kovel answer readers’ questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at