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Silver Salt Grinder & Silver Pepper Grinder

Handmade hallmarked sterling silver Salt grinder & Pepper grinder. These are part of the matching  'Appetite' collection which is designed for modern living by Master Silversmith John Campbell.

The grinders contain the world renowned Peugeot mechanisms and carry a lifetime guarantee. The pepper grinder has a black enamel spot on the top to distinguish it from its companion, the salt grinder, which has a white spot.

It must be 20 years or more now since I designed the 'Appetite' collection and these particular mills were one of the first to be designed. They are however quite complicated to make but the satisfaction I get from receiving customers comments and seeing them come together in my Brentwood workshop makes it all worth the time and effort. Each batch always causes comment in the workshop as the time comes for them to be finally polished and packed into presentation boxes for dispatch.

For those people interested in how we make this important section of our production a brief description follows. There are 11 components in each mill, 3 spun, 2 turned, 1 plastic injected, 1 sheet strip, 2 screws and 1 male and 1 female grinder mechanism.

The spun components: these are made employing the metal spinning process. This is an ancient method of forming round, hollow sheet objects and is still a viable method today for relatively small production runs. Some kitchen utensils and light fittings are still made this way. The machine used -a metal spinning lathe- is rather like a heavy duty wood-turning lathe. A solid male model/former known as a 'chuck' is made on the lathe. This can be from a variety of materials, wood, brass or steel. Clamped to this chuck is a silver disc or blank and while it is rotating, the spinner coaxes/wraps the blank around the chuck using a polished steel burnisher fitted into a long wooden handle, with sweeping left to right strokes. As you can imagine, the flat metal disc tries to buckle and fold as it comes off the flat to form a hollow shape. It is the skill of the spinner to prevent this from happening. Several 'anneals' (making red hot) may be necessary to soften the work-hardening material to prevent it from cracking.

The turned components: of the 2 turned components the knob is drilled and tapped in the lathe and then parted off the bar. As a second operation, it has a recess turned in the top. This is to contain the enamel spot, black for pepper and white for salt. Two decorative lines are turned into the side at this stage. When the knob is finished, a small amount of enamel powder is added to the recess and the unit placed in a furnace until the enamel melts. It is then allowed to cool and it is 'pickled' to remove the oxide. The second turned part is a small washer cut from the bar and soldered inside the cap to reinforce the area where the mill spindle is driven.

Plastic base: these are injected for us into our steel mould by an outside company and contain the mechanism, its holding strap and screws.

Mechanism: the best in the world, Peugeot from France.

When all these components have been spun, cut, fitted etc., they are then soldered together to form sub assemblies. At this stage in the making, the items are punched with the maker's mark, JAC in a triangle, the full initials of John Archibald Campbell. They are then sent to the London Assay Office for testing of each and every component. Only if all the components prove to be better than 92.5% pure silver are the remaining hallmarks punched into the surface while being supported on a steel stake. The English hallmarking system is one of the oldest and best forms of consumer protection and dates back to the 1400s.

Upon return to the workshop, all the mill body components are polished and in the case of the salt, the inside gold plated to deter corrosion.  The plastic base is pushed inside and the bottom edge lapped over, on the lathe, to fix it in place. The grinding parts are fitted in, base strap , screws and knobs fitted on, tested carefully, inspected and packed into presentation boxes. 

In the unlikely event of damage, JA Campbell provide a full repair service. Over the years, various styles of antique silver grinders have been sent to me for repair, all containing Peugeot mechanisms. After a general clean-up and a few new screws, they are working perfectly once more. You can be assured that all JA Campbell products are made up to a standard, not down to a price. Nothing leaves the Brentwood workshop until Master Silversmith John Campbell is completely satisfied.

What our customers say

Dear John, Thank you so much for all your support during the chosing progress. The mills were a great sucess and I am just waiting to see what should be ingraved if at all. I will let you know if it is the case at the beginning of 2011. In the meantime I hope you have a great Christmas. Best wishes, Adelheid — Adelheid

— Adelheid

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