By Maureen Timm

Antique Wooden Handle Egg Beaters c. 1920's to 1930's. Photo Courtesy of The Old Community Antique Mall, Pass Christian, MS

As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, April, 2005

Probably no kitchen appliance in history has more innovation behind it than the hand-cranked egg beater. Beginning in 1856, more than 1000 patents have been granted to this seemingly simple device.

These egg beaters - particularly the early cast-iron ones - are very collectible and many articles have been written about them.

Some people think that using "electric" and "antique" in the same sentence is strange, but the earliest electric appliances are well over 100 years old, and the bulk of the collectible ones are from the 1920's and 30's. Collectors are just beginning to appreciate these fascinating wares and these innovative appliances are now being sought after at flea markets, antique shows and yard sales.

The first patent that can claim to be for an electric mixer was issued on November 17, 1885 to Rufus M. Eastman.

In 1910, L. H. Hamilton, Chester Beach and Fred Osius formed the Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Co., long known for their kitchen appliances. The mixer in Osius' 1911 patent looks very familiar, and many mixers in the 1920s were in this style. These early mixers are very industrial looking. The motor stood on a separate iron stand and was often adjustable.

The electric mixers of the 1920s and early 30's are exemplified by the offerings of the A! Gilbert Co., who also made chemistry sets and their famous Erector Sets.

Left-Vintage Wooden Handled Egg Beater. Right-High speed Beater with Yellow Bakelite Handles. Photo Courtesy of Antiques & Things, Bay St. Louis, MS

However, by the 1930s the glass-bottomed mixer, with the motor built into the lid, had appeared on the scene.

Companies such as Vidrio Products, Chicago Electric, and Knapp Monarch dominated the business and account for the majority of mixers found today.

The 1930's were the golden years for glass-bottomed electric mixers. No significant changes were made after this. By WWII these small mixers were being replaced by the style of mixers we know today - a more powerful motor with two gear-driven beaters. They were mounted on a stand, with a separate bowl beneath.

Most electric mixers are currently priced at less than $35, making it easy to start a collection without investing a lot of money:. The mixers in this lower price category are the common models with clear glass bottoms.

Moving up in the value range are mixers with colored glass bottoms or interesting Art Deco styling. The color found most often after the clear glass ones is transparent green, a popular depression glass color. These are typically found for $35-$50 today. The Milk glass "rock bottoms" are priced in this range.

Sleek models such as the green Vidrio E-20, or the slim, Chicago Electric mixers with custard or Jadite glass bottoms bring a little more, perhaps as high as $60. Models with Catalin handles, or chrome, Deco-styled motors top out in this range.

Industrial looking cast iron stand mixers with jars made of metal or clear glass are typical of the mixers made in the 1920's. Models by Gilbert or Gilchrest are found most often and are usually priced in the $50-$75 range.

Interesting, very early stand mixers, such as the 1911 patent Hamilton Beach, are historically important and are valued at $150-$200.

The most prolific and innovative period for interesting designs came from that wonderful period of invention in America's History spanning from approximately 1875 through 1910. The incredible variety and the wonderful innovations that were incorporated in the designs and inventions from this period are simply astounding.

Eggbeater design was considered a science, promoted as such in the marketing strategy, and some very important considerations went into their design and manufacture and the serious collectors are now scouring flea markets, garage sales and estate sales in search of the elusive and rare beater.

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"Florida's Best Newspaper for Antiques and Collectibles

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