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Silver Salt & Pepper Mills - Capstan Design

Handmade, hallmarked sterling silver capstan-style salt & pepper grinders. Part of the matching 'Classic' collection.

Both grinders have the world famous Peugeot mechanism 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. In addition, the silver salt grinder is gold plated inside to deter corrosion from the salt.

It must be 35 years or more now since I brought together various antique items into the collection. These particular mills are quite complicated to make but the satisfaction I get from 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.

What could be nicer than to grind fresh sea salt from Maldon and/or whole black peppercorns over your meal? Every chef will tell you how freshly ground spices are the only ones to use! Using these luxury silver grinders or mills, as they are sometimes known, will add even further pleasure to the eating experience.

When people ask me 'Why buy silver'? I can always answer so easily, "Silver enhances any table," no matter how simple or how elaborate. This depends on the occasion or your own tastes. It can be a pleasure to look at and enjoy in solitude or when entertaining friends and family. For that extra special occasion when a table set with select pieces of silver can really have that 'wow' factor, your guests will ask 'where did you get that from'

Whatever the occasion, silver is the ideal present. For a couple starting their own home, to a silver wedding present, or even a golden wedding present, as the mills can be fully gold plated or even made from gold.. Both mills are suitable for engraving with a message, date, or crest to personalize the gift.

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. After a general clean up and a few new screws, they are working perfectly once more. You can be assured that all our 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.

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 perspex base, 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 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 /blank and while it is rotating the spinner, using a polished steel burnisher fitted into a long wooden handle, with sweeping left to right strokes, coaxes the silver around the chuck.  As you can imagine, the flat metal disc tries to buckle and fold as it comes off the flat to form a hollow shape and 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.

Perspex base: these are cut and turned from Perspex sheet and will 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 body, the largest component which will bear the full hallmark, is punched with the maker's mark, JAC in a triangle, the registered name and initials of John Campbell. The items are 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 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. Note: in order to be able to guarantee a minimum of 925, the alloy is actually made using 928.

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 from the salt. The perspex 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 and carefully inspected and packed into presentation boxes. 


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Our services


Gift wrapping

Each item purchased is packed into a luxury presentation box.

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Engraving service

Engraving your silver or crystal adds that extra personal individuality to your sterling silver gift.

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Our skilled silversmiths can perform many repairs on worn or damaged silver items.

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Swap your old silverware

We offer a swap service where you send in your old silver items.

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