History of Spong Grinders ...

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
dr42

#1: Post by dr42 »

I've been collecting Spong grinders for some time now - until recently I was aware of three 'generations' of Spong, which I'd describe as:
Oldest: Wooden handle, 'S' shaped winding arm, I have examples of #0 through #4 but I know a #5 was made.
Middle: Wooden handle, straight winding arm, I have examples of #1 through #4 - never seen a #0 or #5 of this vintage
Youngest: Red (plastic?) handle, straight winding arm, I have examples of #1 through #4 - again, never seen a #0 or #5 of this vintage

An additional type, of which I have three and one 'knock off' is a cylindrical hand held Spong grinder with a wooden knob. 'Salter' is the knock off - I have a #2 in a Salter also. I've seen Beatrice also which look like a knock off. I also have a couple of original boxes and instruction sheets.

Until recently I thought I had nearly a complete set - missing only a #5 in the oldest generation and 'assuming' that #0 and #5 didn't exist past that generation.

Please note: assessment of the 'generations' is largely my own from what I've seen and collected - I'd love to hear from anyone who can update or correct that!

Then I found what seems to be an even older #3 online. It has the 'S' shaped winding arm and wooden handle, but no bench clamp - only a wall mount. There's no evidence of a bench clamp being removed - I have seen this done where people have butchered the bench mount off but not with this one. It has quite noticeable design differences to subsequent generations, and is taller with a substantially bigger 'mouth' - almost like a later #4. The backing plate has no markings other than a large "3" at the top, no names/etc like later generations, while the front has what looks like a brazed or soldered on name plate. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

The downside of all this is that it seems I have even more to chase for a full set now ... if anyone has any reference to the different generations and dates/etc I'd be very happy. If there is interest I can post some pictures of the collection.





User avatar
drgary
Team HB

#2: Post by drgary »

Rob,

Welcome to H-B with a terrific first post. Yes, please post all of the pictures you can of your collection and to illustrate the different generations. That would be a great resource.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

RickO88

#3: Post by RickO88 »

Do you have any idea of the years for the three generations?

RobAnybody

#4: Post by RobAnybody »

you can do some basic dating using the known company history https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Spong_and_Co
Any grinder that thas Spong LTD on ist is youger than 1960 (the year the company turned public) the Salter versions are younger than 1980 (the year the household division was sold to Salter).
Also on earlier versions the arm is threaded onto the shaft instead of fixed with a screw (this is still the case in the beatrice models).
cheers,
Rob
LMWDP #647

RickO88

#5: Post by RickO88 »

Very helpful. Many thanks.

dr42 (original poster)

#6: Post by dr42 (original poster) »

Here's some of what I previously thought were the oldest Spong grinders:



The next oldest:



and the youngest:



I only have one in (what is left of) the original packaging - unused:



... and a few of the handheld grinders. One of these is a Salter.



While I have a #0 in the curved arm, I realised I'm missing a #3 in that series. The catcher tins seem to always go missing ... I have three not pictured, two that won't fit on the rail and one that is in daily use, a youngest #3. With the addition of the very oldest that I started this thread with, I have 24 not including the 4 hand held grinders.

The grinders in the 3 series I had until recently all appear to be close to the same size for each number - but the oldest one is considerably bigger - here's a couple of pictures next to a #3 and a #4 of the previously mid series:

The younger and older #3:



and the younger #4 and older #3:



For now I think I'll refer to them as first through fourth generation, unless there's a better suggestion.

RickO88

#7: Post by RickO88 »

Impressive collection! Do you use any of these?

dr42 (original poster)

#8: Post by dr42 (original poster) »

I've used a number of them over the years at various times as the collection grew, but not all. A few are probably in need of a good clean and a couple a bit more work to get them up to standard.

My daily grind is a fourth generation #3, not previously pictured - it lives on the kitchen bench and is used by the whole family. It's like the coffee alarm, they aren't quiet so everyone knows a brew is on!