Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh, patents! A perfect wedding gift…

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Which belated wedding gift for a pair of 30-something lovebird design-professionals, nesting in NYC’s village…?

How about a pair of electric Peugeot Citroen Pepper and Salt Mills!  Yes, patented and manufactured by Peugeot Citroen Automobile SA, the famous French car manufacturer with the lion coat of arms -- second largest car manufacturer of Europe, and also boasting 200 years of design experience in pepper mills and coffee grinders!

The original Peugeot pepper grinder dates back to the end of the 19th century!  According to US 210837 A, titled Improvement in combined pepper mill and caster, corresponding to the French Letters Patent No. 210837, granted on Dec. 17, 1878, the original Peugeot pepper mill was designed as an improvement on existing pepper mills operated with a small crank handle  rotating the grinding cone. The inventor was Pierre Chalas, who assigned his invention to Peugeot Frères, all residing in Valentigney, France, known as the birthplace of the Peugeot company in 19th century France.

The patented improvement of the pepper mill consisted in connecting the grinding cone to the body of the pepper mill, with a spindle, crossbar and nut, on the top, or bottom, of the mill (depending on the configuration), so that instead of cranking the mill, with a crank handle, to grind the pepper (which is not the easiest manipulation).  the user just needs to twist the top, or the bottom of the mill, to actuate the grinding cone.

To date, this inventive improvement in the operation of the grinding mechanism still informs the design of Peugeot pepper, salt and condiment mills (as well as many replicas). Some of the mills today are also still made of wood, others are lacquered or made of plastic and other materials, just as envisioned in the specifications of variation, cited as “glass, wood, porcelain or other suitable material” in the original 1878 patent.

A century plus more later, the Peugeot spindle is sometimes electrically driven, which makes it even easier to grind pepper, salt and other condiments, in the spirit of the 1878 inventive improvement in user-friendliness. 

Incidentally too, the Peugeot pepper mill invention serves as a fantastic example of an improvement counting as an invention -- despite the apparent contradiction of terms. That is, an improvement that has successfully passed all three criteria of patentability, namely  novelty, inventive step and usefulness.

Below, you will see two of the original 1878 patent drawings for the Letters Patent No. 210837, granting a patent to P. Chalas, on Dec. 17, 1878, Assignor to Peugeot Frères.

With a lifetime warranty on the grinding mechanism, the Peugeot salt and pepper mills could drive the salt and pepper in all the happy couple’s recipes… Truly a perfect gift to accompany a beautiful lifetime of sprinkles and happiness! Xox

Improvement in combined pepper mill and caster
US 210837 A – Letter Patent No. 210837 granted Dec. 17, 1878 to Pierre CHALAS (Valentigney France) and assigned to Peugeot Frères (of same place) – Original of Peugeot manufacturer
Peugeot Mills and Grinders

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