Station: [16] Room 8: Porcelain and Bridal Coffee-Grinders

You’re probably wondering why the firm of Leinbrock manufactured coffee grinders as tiny as these. For doll’s houses belonging to the children of wealthy families, perhaps?

No, there’s a different background to these. In the 19th century, peddlers delivered products for everyday use to people’s homes. They transported their goods in baskets or on handcarts. Pottery or china was too expensive for them to risk it breaking en route. So perfect miniature copies of top-quality coffee grinders were made, known as sample grinders. In spring, the peddler would show the small replica, and if the prospective buyer liked it, the trader would deliver the full-size original in the autumn. 

These miniatures are very rare, and being able to show them side by side with the originals is even more uncommon. But the Rolf Scheuermann Collection has a range of sample grinders along with their originals that is unmatched anywhere in the world. 

Now take a look at the other display case, which contains some especially elaborate coffee grinders. Really much too nice for household use, don't you think? 

These coffee grinders were made for the "most wonderful day of your life" – which, for many people, means their wedding day. Since they were produced for that very special occasion, they are lavishly decorated. These bridal or wedding coffee-grinders were either part of the bride’s dowry, or presented to the couple jointly as a wedding gift. The bridal coffee-grinders often bear the initials of the bride, while those designed as wedding gifts feature the initials of both the bride and groom. The initials could be painted or engraved on the grinder. Some examples include the year of the wedding. Many of these coffee-mills are so elaborately designed that they were evidently not intended as a kitchen appliance, but rather as an ornament for the parlour. 

But only the upper classes could afford coffee-mills as expensive as these. That’s why many of the bridal and wedding models aren’t custom-made. In many cases, grinders produced by a manufactory were subsequently decorated with unique elements. Take a look around! Which of these coffee grinders would be – or would have been – your perfect choice as a wedding gift?

All depictions: © Kaffeemühlenmuseum Wiernsheim