Vintage Electric Coffee Brewers, Some Non-Electric

I love coffee. In fact, I am somewhat of a coffee fanatic.  I don’t think there is any brewing process that I haven’t tried, from boiled coffee (with egg as the Norwegians do (in Minnesota), to various types of expresso machines and everything in between.  I’m a “supertaster” and can taste more components in coffee than many people.  I began noticing the difference in the quality and flavors in coffee when I was still a teen – and spent several months living with a Scandinavian family in Minneapolis while attending baking school.  They made “egg coffee” which was an eye-opener, so to speak.  When I went home, I tried to talk my mother into trying it but to her, the strength of the brew was off-putting.  At that time the only whole bean coffee was in bags and one could use the machines in the stores to grind it to fine, medium or coarse.  There were no “coffee shops” where one could buy “fresh-roasted” beans – in the mid-1950s.  After spend a year in the Army (WACS), mostly deprived of good coffee, although there was plenty of the “regular” stuff, I was reassigned to the Presidio at San Francisco – WOW!  There were “coffee houses” that made an effort to serve really good coffee and ESPRESSO.

And there was one little storefront on Lombard Street, not far from the Presidio gate, that served wonderful waffles and coffee made in VACUUM brewers, just like the ones my grandparents had when I was a child.  I found a small 4-cup Silex model at a thrift store and sneaked it into the cubicle I shared with another WAC on the base and made my own coffee. The sergeant in charge of our floor had a room at the other end and caught me rinsing out the brewer one evening.  She allowed me to keep it, as long as I shared with her…  She was also a coffee fan.

That began my “collecting” because I then got a larger Silex – 8 cup and since these had their own electric “stoves” little fitted hot plates, they were ideal for a room.  I actually gave those away when I was discharged.  However it did not take long for me to purchase more.  And I never stopped.

SOME HISTORY OF COFFEE BREWING APPLIANCES

Electric coffee brewers appeared on the market almost as soon as electricity became available to the homemaker. Most were percolator types with the heating elements added to the base of pots that were similar to stove top.  There were other styles, many designs were not successful.  Some of the early coffee brewers were weird, and some were dangerous to use.

As with other appliances, the demand for these appliances drove the industry to produce newer, better and safer coffeemakers.

Again, design was a strong factor in the appearance of these and some were quite beautiful as well as practical.

Below the next section, there are photos of several VINTAGE coffee brewers, just a few from my collection.

AND NOW THE CURRENT OBSESSION.

This is my newest, the Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe CF091.

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This is the review I wrote for Amazon on September 28, 2016 after testing it: I’m very impressed.  I have not yet used the milk frother – it does not heat the milk, you have to warm it in a microwave or ??
But I made coffee in the various sizes up to a half carafe.  The controls are simple and intuitive.  It has a “drip stop” lever that positively shuts off the stream of coffee so there are no drips.
This model has the glass carafe so has a hot plate to keep the coffee at the “correct” serving temp.  There is a permanent filter or one can use disposable paper filters.  If one has fine ground coffee the paper filter is necessary.  I ground the beans for the half carafe at medium and used the permanent filter.  There was a tiny bit of sediment but nothing obnoxious.  The cup and the travel mug brews were with a finer grind and I used paper filters.
It is brewed VERY HOT.  Scalding in fact.  Since I like to add cream, this is TERRIFIC FOR ME because I don’t have to reheat the coffee after adding it.
I tried it with Dark Roast Komodo Dragon from Starbucks, freshly ground.  Excellent cup brewed on the “Cafe Forte” setting on the “Travel mug” size.
I also brewed the half Carafe with a Medium Dark Roast Happy Belly blend – a Fairtrade Organic coffee 100% Arabica from Central America.  It is a very pleasant brew, not as robust as I usually prefer but very nice for after dinner.

All in all, this is a versatile and interesting coffee brewer that uses regular coffee and there are NO plastic or foil PODS TO DISPOSE OF.

Now the followup.  The machine had some problems with the settings – not dispensing the full amount on the “Rich Brew”  and only dribbling, not a full dispensing stream on “Classic Brew” – it worked fine on the Specialty and Cafe Forte settings.  Also on the Full Carafe and Half Carafe setting, no problems at all.  I like strong, robust coffee so I used the Cafe Forte 90% of the time.  A couple of weeks ago I began to notice that the dispensed coffee was not as hot as usual and not as strong. Using my Thermopen, I checked and the temperature was well below normal brewing temp as it was dispensed.

I contacted Ninja Customer Service and they immediately emailed me a prepaid FedEx shipping label, told me to box up the machine and ship to them and a new one would be sent immediately as soon as FedEx scanned the label.

NOW THAT IS EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Vacuum Coffee Brewers

I would now like to direct your attention the the following web site that has an extensive amount of text and photos detailing the history and interesting facts about vintage coffee brewers.
JitterBuzz Coffee notes

And here is a comprehensive history of the development of the vacuum coffee brewer:
Vacuum Coffee Pot History

There is this Coffee History from: Go Coffee Go.

And even more coffee history at, Talk About Coffee

And here is something of interest: A Coffee Timeline.

VINTAGE COFFEE BREWERS – MOSTLY ELECTRIC

Not all of these coffee brewers are electric but there are a significant number to make it of interest to those who do collect electrics.
On JitterBuzz and the other linked sites, there are numerous photos of every kind of coffee brewer and vacuum coffee brewer imaginable (and some are almost beyond imagination).

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Sunbeam produced percolators in a large array of designs. The Art Deco influence is very obvious in this coffee service that I collected several years ago.
Sunbeam Art Deco Coffee Service.

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I have quite a few coffee brewers of different types and from different eras, especially from the 1930s.

Meanwhile here’s one I just finished cleaning.
This set, made by GE Hotpoint, is actually the very last vintage coffee brewer that I purchased. This one is often seen with cream colored bakelite handles and fittings, also black handles, but the red bakelite is quite rare, which is why I I couldn’t resist it.

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This is the “Royal Californian” electric coffee percolator/urn that is gold-plated.  Manufactured in 1960.  It was used sparingly and still has the hang tag. The manufacturer is Robeson-Rochester Corp., Rochester 1, New York.  (Obviously prior to the introduction of ZIP codes in 1963).

 

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CURTIS COFFEE BREWER – A DRIP (POUR OVER) BREWER ca. 1959

This is not an electric coffee brewer. It is a drip coffee brewer from the late 1950s and exhibits the “space age” design popular at the time.

This way of brewing coffee, in spite of the hype about the drip brewers that appeared in the 1980s, had been around for decades. In the 1930s some brewers were made of stoneware or china, including the strainers that were made with very fine holes in the ceramic itself. Hall China produced them in a wide range of designs to match their dinnerware patterns. The “Jewel Tea” company sold them “door-to-door” in the 1930s.
Others had a ceramic body with metal strainers and others had cloth filters. Later still, disposable paper filters were produced and the Chemex brewer was made similar to this Curtis brewer, but used only the paper filter.
This one has two filters, one medium perforations and one with extra-fine perforations.
No paper filter is required.
The finely perforated “Gold” filters that appeared in the late 1980s are descended from this design.
The carafe itself is one piece of blown glass and not, as it appears in two pieces.
The metal filter fits into the upper portion of the carafe and has a clip to keep it securely in place.
An optional warming place was available for purchase but was not sold as part of the brewer.
Note the address on the box. This was prior to the advent of the zip code (in 1963).

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Here’s another percolator with Art Deco styling. This one made by the La Belle Silver Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1939. It was essentially a copy of the very popular and higher priced “Harmony” percolator made by Manning-Bowman and introduced in 1937. Chase made one similar called the “Coronet” shortly after the M-B was marketed.
La Belle Silver produced some beautiful coffee services, still using colored bakelite in many when other manufacturers had changed to other materials.
The black parts on the handle and spigot are bakelite.

It is complete with an original power cord and works. I did not make coffee in it, just ran the cycle with water to test it.

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These are the “aristocrats” of coffee brewers.

These coffee brewers were made by La Belle Silver, Continental Silver and United Appliance.

They all have clear or translucent bakelite or catalin handles, one is an amber color, the others are red.
The matching cream and sugars also have matching handles.

I don’t have the cream and sugar for this one.

Or for this one.

I dusted them but they do need a bit of polish to look their best but I’m simply not doing that right now.

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Forman Brothers Breakfast/Hospitality set.  Percolator electric with Pyrex insert.

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FB TRAY SET 2

This is a large coffee brewer known as a flip-pot or Neopolitan flip coffee pot for use on a stove top.

 

 

This is a top on a Mirro aluminum stove top percolator. This top will also fit other coffee makers with the same size opening and these are usually found in thrift stores for just a few dollars.  Discard the pot and use the top with your more valuable perks.

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NEWER COFFEE BREWERS – USING PRESSURE.

In the early 1990s I was gifted with a Senseo coffee brewer that used soft pods.  I had several, as the models added additional features.  I still have and use a Senseo Supreme.

This is one of the “special” issues, a Red Senseo introduced for the holiday season.

Red Senseo

And this is one of the “Supreme” models with digital controls. This photo is from when I was on a trip – I took my brewer and a supply of pods with me because I can’t stand instant coffee and the stuff available in even the more upscale motels is ghastly.

Senseo Supreme

The NESCAFE DOLCE GUSTO 

This brewer was a gift from friends to whom I had given my little used espresso machine, a rather bulky machine that was a “superautomatic” but I rarely used it.  This little brewer was much easier to use but did require the hardshell pods made by Nescafe.

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This unit failed after 5 years of constant use.   I phoned Nescafe Customer Service and after determining that the machine was not repairable, they sent me a new model.  I have GREAT ADMIRATION FOR THIS COMPANY’S CUSTOMER SERVICE AND I WROTE MY OPINION IN A REVIEW OF THE NEW MACHINE.

THE NESCAFE DOLCE GUSTO ESPERTA SINGLE SERVE.

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HPIM8835 HPIM8836

46 Responses to Vintage Electric Coffee Brewers, Some Non-Electric

  1. Darienne says:

    Looking at your collection, here and on eGullet, makes me wonder: is there a museum of kitchen ‘stuff’ somewhere? If not, maybe you should start one, or at least will your vast collection to one. Thanks for bringing all these items to our attention. It’s fascinating !!

  2. asenjigal says:

    There is a Toaster Museum and Toaster Central here in the U.S. There is an international toaster museum but the site is difficult to navigate.

    There are museum scattered around the country with rooms set up to show the large and small appliances and furnishing of different eras.

  3. shanha says:

    hi, are you open to selling any of your pieces? i am interested in one of your continental silver co. percolators.
    thanks so much,
    sg

  4. Debby Fracier says:

    I have a vintage art deco coffee percolator urn, red bakelite handles with handle on coffee spout red. Made by United Metal Goods. In good condition, insides are completely clean. I don’t have a cord so I don’t know if it works. I kept it because it is so pretty. Can you tell me the value. Thanks so much.

    • asenjigal says:

      In working condition, with all the bakelite/catalin intact with no chips or cracks, it would range from $110.00 up to $165.00.
      Power cords are fairly easy to find, the standard appliance cords for that era are often offered (sometimes new or unused) on eBay and other auction sites.

      • Debby Fracier says:

        Would ebay be the best place to sell this item. It is in perfect condition.

        • asenjigal says:

          Yes, or ebid, and you might check on Ruby Lane. There are a lot of vintage items there.

          • Debby Fracier says:

            Thank you so much.

          • Debby Fracier says:

            Where might I find a lid for the sugar bowl and creamer?

          • asenjigal says:

            On the sets made by United, LaBelle Silver and Continental Silver, the creamers did not have lids.
            I have no suggestion of how to find a lid alone, as those were the most easily lost parts of the set..

            Manning Bowman, Sunbeam and GE Hotpoint sets did usually have lids on the creamers but not always and sometimes the handles and lids had contrasting colors, not the same color – as you can see on the Hotpoint set near the top of the page.
            I have heard rumors of an up-to-date reference/pricing book that was supposed to be published last year and now possibly this year but I have not been able to get any confirmation. These things have a limited market and some are self-published, which is expensive, so they are few and far between.

  5. Dotti Trapani says:

    I bought, online, an electric coffee maker/server. It is Victorian style & I love it but the power cord shorts when I plug it in. Do you have parts ? It’s made by United and the plug is quite big & different from other electric cords made later.
    I love your collection~ I coild fill my home w/ “STUFF” and be perfectly happy.. 🙂

    • asenjigal says:

      You can buy replacement cords for almost any vintage appliance from
      Toaster Central

      Measure the size of the plug you have and match it to one of those pictured on this page.

      It is possible that it is not the power cord but the connections of the prongs inside the bottom of the pot.
      If a new cord has the same effect, have the pot checked by an electrician who knows small appliances.

  6. Joan says:

    I have a 1924 Coffee percolator from the Royal Rochester. I am needing a cord and I do not know how to go about finding one. Can you help? It is in excellent condition.

  7. If you would like to view the worlds largest small electric appliance museum. With over 5000 electic appliance. just google small electric appliance museum. thank you Richard

  8. karen says:

    I have on e of the robeson urns like the californian , except it is copper on the out side . I need a replacement stem as it broke ( wore out ) and also , perhaps the thermostat is out because it does not percolate water with an alternate stem ( of a different type) up to make coffee enough , just weak water . I need a stem any how – I have looked and looked , Please help !!!

    • asenjigal says:

      From time to time I see this type of urn on eBay and if not in pristine condition they are inexpensive enough to purchase for parts. Many of the large urns used standard stems and baskets which are interchangeable.
      This vendor has some parts and you can contact them for information.
      As for the heating, depending on how it is constructed internally, there can be a rheostat as well as a thermostat and switches, which can be adjusted or replaced by someone who repairs small appliances, you might find an electrician who does this as a hobby. Unless you are skilled at this sort of thing it is best left to an expert.

  9. Erik says:

    I recently picked up a Curtis “Bing Crosby” Filter Drip pot w/tag and 7 packs of filters. Any idea where I can get more info about this item and its value?

    • asenjigal says:

      I have seen these on auction sites from time to time and have seen them sold anywhere from $30. to $50., depending on condition, original box, etc.
      The “Bing Crosby” model is virtually identical to the Curtis pictured here but has a slightly different handle – the ones I have seen are square at the top of the handle instead of rounded.
      They were available in 2-cup, 4-6 cup and I believe 8-10 cup but I’ve never seen the latter identified as such but have seen a larger carafe only, with no gold overlay that was a 10-cup. It did not have the Curtis name anywhere but was the same shape.
      The one I have is new in the box and did not require filters.
      The Wilbur Curtis company is still in business and manufactures commercial coffee equipment, air pots and accessories. It is now located in Montebello, CA.

      • Erik says:

        Thank you very much for this information. I found the pot at an antique store for $10 so I’m pretty happy about that. 🙂

  10. Sandy says:

    Hello, I’ve just purchased a percolator just like the one with red handles posted on 1/24/10 that has a photo of three coffee makers…mine is, sadly, missing its cord. I would love to find a replacement cord to find out if it works! Any ideas where I might get one?
    I would also like to know of a good way to clean ages of grime out of it.
    Thank you for any help you can lend,
    Sandy

  11. Jody says:

    Is there a market for these old percolators? I have the United Metal Goods set with percolator, cord, creamer, sugar bowl (both have lids) and tray {coffee basket missing}

    it is beautiful, but lost in the clutter of some inherited crystal, and I would like to “rehome” my coffee service.

    What is the best way to find it a new home and recoup some of my investment?
    thanks

    • asenjigal says:

      Look for what similar items are selling for on eBay, eBid, Ruby Lane and other auction/sales sites and pick one that has the most action for these items.
      On some sites your first few listings are free.

  12. Clarice Glandon says:

    Do the vintage electric percolators stop perking on their own when the coffee is brewed
    or does one have to time when it begins to perk and then shut it off after say eight minutes of perking? I have a Royal Rochester Royalite.

    • asenjigal says:

      Most of the electric percs do stop after the cycle, especially those that have settings so you can choose the strength of the coffee. Some of the earliest (and cheapest) need to be timed and unplugged when they have perked long enough. I have a Royal Rochester and it does stop perking at the end of the cycle.

  13. Jeannie Hieb says:

    Hi asenjigal: I have an exquisite Robeson Rochester orange coffee maker from 1937. It is in perfect condition except today the chrome rim came off from the top of the pot and the gasket or glue that held it to the pot crumbled. The gasket or glue was time and heat dried, mostly blackened and it turned to dust and tiny pieces. When I made coffee without the glue/gasket under the rim, the perking made a lot more noise than usual (banging I guess) and I am afraid that I can’t use it any more without damaging something. Since you are a collector, do you know of a place to find a replacement gasket or a glue that will appropriately repair the coffee pot? By doing so do I degrade the value? I guess I’ll quit using it sadly–it was fun while it lasted. Reminded me of my mother 🙂

    • asenjigal says:

      This happens often with coffee makers of this vintage.

      There is a solution. Clean the inside of the metal rim well with fine steel wool (not Brillo) wipe well with a paper towel to make sure there is no residue. Also clean the ceramic edge lightly with the steel wool and wipe with alcohol.

      At Auto Zone or Pep Boys – you can find Permatex/Hi-temp RTV silicone gasket maker. Get the gray stuff, not the black.

      Apply a continuous “bead” of the material all around the inner surface of the rim and press into place firmly and using a piece of paper towel wipe off all the material that has oozed out under the edges, both inside and out. Put a weight on top and leave it to “cure” for a couple of hours. It will now be set but you should not use it for 3 days to allow the material to fully set – there will be an odor at first but it should not be noticeable after the wait time.
      Use plain water and put it through the cycle twice.

      If you do sell it, just disclose that you have repaired the gasket. It should not lessen the worth at all.

  14. Christine says:

    Hi. does anyone have info on La Belle Silver Co Brooklyn Coffee Urn I have one and am trying to find history and any info it’s in good shape says 115 volts 400 watts brooklyn NY

    • asenjigal says:

      The five La Belle Silver Co. brewers pictured above are all 400 watt, 115 volts.
      They are all fully functional, perking the coffee but have to be manually unplugged after sufficient time – when the coffee is fully brewed – then the inner parts, basket and stem removed and then plugged back in for serving.

      You can’t leave them plugged in for a long time, just until the coffee has been dispensed because otherwise it becomes very strong.

      Some models are supposed to be “automatic” but they continue perking much too long and the result is extremely strong coffee.

      Some of the urns seen on ebay are from the post-war forties, some from the ’30s and some from the ’50s although styles changed abruptly in about 1953.

      It’s important to have a good, undamaged cord. Replacement cords are often on ebay, make sure you measure the distance from center to center on the pins. You can also buy replacement cords at Toaster Central.com: http://www.toastercentral.com/cords.htm

  15. Dave says:

    I started collecting older (early- to mid-20th Century, and a few modern) coffee brewing devices a few years ago; I’m up to 34 pieces now. In fact, I got the Wilbur Curtis 2-cup “Coffee Saver” about two weeks ago. Great little brewer. Dripolators seem to be all but forgotten, because there’s so little information about them (I’m up to ten dripolators now, from 2-cup to 8-cup). It took a lot of digging to find instructions (some are images of the original instruction sheet, like for the Silex “2-cupper”) or dates of manufacture (Jitterbuzz *is* a good source for info). Ebay is a great place to find these old pots, if you take your time and do some research. I’ve made sure to check each piece for completeness, because I *use* what I buy. It’s a bit more labor intensive than just popping in a K-cup and pushing a button (ugh), but you’ll get a superior cup. You’ll also travel back in time, if only for a moment, and discover the care involved in brewing a *good* cup of coffee.

    • asenjigal says:

      They can be fascinating. I have used many of the ones I have, same as with the toasters, waffle irons and so on. However since I am very picky about coffee which has to be super fresh, I am now using the single-serve pod machines (Senseo – no longer sold in the U.S.) and have a back-up still in the box in case the current one dies. I am slowly selling my collection on eBay. Right now have the large copper Neopolitan “topsy-turvy” one up. It is essentially a “pour-over” just does it differently – heating the water in one end and then inverting it so the water can drip through the grounds.

  16. anthony durante says:

    I have the same coffeepot from labelle that you have picture the model#1955a,do you have any idea on the worth of this,it is in mint condition with all parts included and yes it works but not fond of the taste

    • asenjigal says:

      One that is complete and in working order can sell for 65 – 90 dollars – depending on the attention they get.
      I recently sold the La Belle with red catalin handles and cream and sugar (no insides – the basket and stem were lost some time ago) for 59.95.
      Currently I have the United one, complete and fully functioning with cream and sugar listed at 75.95 on ebay (item # 181648227685).

  17. Phyllis says:

    I have a La Belle coffee party urn 1957A. I need a glass top. Any suggestions? I really need the coffee urn for our gatherings. Thanks.

    • asenjigal says:

      The link I had for replacement parts is not active but I’m pretty sure I can find another one, just give me a little time…
      I generally start out searching ebay, etsy and also Ruby Lane, on which I have found some parts and accessories.
      I haven’t tried one of these
      But someone with a Farberware percolator urn got one to work.
      You might also check out the Jitterbuzz site, lots of stuff about vintage coffee brewers.
      And there is a Facebook page so you can ask questions and someone might have something to help. It hasn’t been too active of late.

  18. Bekki Draper says:

    Hi I’m looking to purchase the Gold Robeson Rochester Royal Hallmark Coffee Maker Percolator 5835 35 Cup URN. Does anyone know where I can get one? Looked online but no luck so far. Thanks!

    • asenjigal says:

      I’m getting ready to put mine on ebay (along with several other brewers) but I too am having difficulty finding a comparable to establish a price.
      I know production in this color was limited so there probably are not many out there, and certainly not in this condition.

  19. Tommie says:

    I have a Russell Electric “Hold Heet” percolator. I don’t have the cord. I’ve found that they made heating pads, waffle irons and curling irons. But I’ve not found anything about the percolator. I want to find a cord for it. Anyone have any info?

    • asenjigal says:

      You can get a replacement cord from Toaster Central, if you can’t find one on ebay.
      If it is the Hold Heet Percolator by Russell, that I have seen, it takes a wider plug than the modern ones usually available – the one I know of has what I call “facets” on the sides of the pot and was made in the mid 1920s.
      Link to Toaster Central.

      • Tommie says:

        Thank you very much. I’ll contact them. I’ve not been able to find much about the company. Do you know a good site(s) to use for the history?

  20. Greeta Hootman says:

    I inherited an Art Deco chrome coffee urn with tray. It was missing cord and I have now managed to break the glass top of percolator. It is made by Manning Bowman Article 413-7 – Serial 11-27. Is there a source for these missing items?

    • asenjigal says:

      I often find “orphaned” power cords in excellent condition at thrift stores.
      Toaster Central sells replacement cords.
      You have to measure the distance between the plugs as shown in the photo.

      Pyrex made glass tops for a lot of percolators and many are interchangeable because the size of the opening and the “pins” or other manner of fastening are close enough for them to work. I have a Universal urn with a glass top that suffered a “fatal accident” and I found that one of the much later “mirro aluminum” percolators had an identical top, found one at a thrift store for a dollar, discarded the pot, used the top with the urn.

  21. Chris Edwards says:

    Hi asenjigal,
    I just bought a percolator identical to your ‘Royal Californian’ though mine is the chrome model. I am wondering if the hang tag on yours has instructions on it. I just want to make sure I use it correctly. I used mine today and waited until it was done percolating; the light never came on (it could be burned out or maybe I just didn’t wait long enough.) The big question I have is, can I leave it plugged in after its done percolating to keep the coffee warm? I read on another website that the heating element is designed to drop in temperture to keep the coffee warm, though I can’t say for sure if it was speaking about this specific model. I also don’t want to burn it out. Any help or insight you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Would love to know what the hang tag says anyway as I am curious.
    Cheers to a good cup of coffee!

  22. Marianne says:

    Hi. We have a vintage Royal Rochester (model 0454?) percolator that we bought on E-bay. It is in working condition and we’ve been using it to make coffee. However, the finish on the inside is worn and shows what looks like copper. Do you know if that is what these percolators are made of and is it safe to use when the finish is gone, exposing the copper underneath?
    Would appreciate any insight you have on the matter.

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