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William Bounds Art Deco Pepper Mills
Manufacturer: William Bounds, Ltd.
List price: $30 to $80
Warranty: Lifetime
Dimensions: 5" to 18" tall
Weight: varies
Composition: wood, stainless steel, ceramic grinding mechanism
Made in: China
Type: Pepper mills
Color: various
Apparent goal: kids gift/registry home kitchens restaurants everywhere
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Diet/nutrition: does not apply scary empty promises helpful essential
Green?: not especially neutral mixed blessing earth friendly green!
Innovative: step back standing still progress trendy genius
Problem solving: no better baby steps solid steps giant steps a revelation
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Ease of use: impossible frustrating OK simple child's play
Intuitive: Ph.D. required barely logical effortless brilliant
Instructions: missing incomprehensible adequate unnecessary excellent
Quality: cheesy questionable good years of service impressive
Parts to lose: inevitable some/many one-piece self-storing not a problem
Power source: none hands batteries outlet green
Clean-up: nightmare wipe clean soap & water scouring pad dishwasher
Does it work?: not at all adequately well very well perfectly
Availability: airfare required online kitchen store department store supermarket
Easy to open?: impossible maddening tolerable good opens itself
Green?: fills a landfill huge waste passable minimal waste impressive
Time saving: time wasting not really modest substantial huge
Labor saving: less efficient marginal a bit noticeable remarkable
Money saving: money wasted none $ $$ $$$
Beats the old way: worse no change better definitely entirely new
Where will it live?: garage/attic drawer cabinet countertop/table elsewhere
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfies exceeds home run
How often used: once/twice ≥daily ≥weekly ≥monthly ≥yearly/holidays
Worth the space?: no does not apply w/unlimited space w/limited space absolutely
Need it?: a luxury discretionary basic equipment for serious cooks get it
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it fair good very good excellent

Comments: Many people go to great lengths to dress their table. And as long as the decorations aren't used to compensate for a potential lack of flavor*, we're fine with that, supportive even. And one place your table can shine is with a pepper mill from William Bounds, Ltd. We have been using two, and they literally are works of art.

These hand-painted, Art-Deco pepper mills are made of stainless steel and/or wood, and range in shape from what we describe as a lighthouse to what Bounds describes as tulips, gourds, serpents, peels, vases, or squatty pawns. The grinders in this series were designed by Michigan artist Robert Wilhelm. Some were inspired by Native American Indian totems and fetishes. Some are available with matching salt shakers; some have the salt shaker built in. With others, you're on your own in getting salt to the table.

Now, it wouldn't matter how beautiful they were, if they weren't excellent pepper mills at the same time, which they are. These mills have an innovative ceramic mechanism that evenly crushes peppercorns, rather than grinding them between mill components. The one possible drawback is if you like your pepper ground very coarsely. There is an adjustment ring with 3 grind settings: fine, medium and coarse – and there is a clear difference among them – but all are relatively fine. The coarsest grind on these mills is finer than the finest setting on some other pepper mills we've tried. We are quite happy with the coarsest grind, but we know that some people prefer their pepper chunky, and these may not be the mills for those people.

The other challenge is that these mills can be a little hard to find. Some models are available at and some at other online shops. Many are available from the William Bounds web site, but even that can be hit-or-miss – the mills we're been testing can be bought from the company directly (800-473-0504) but are nowhere to be found on the web site. Apparently you have to discern their existence, then pick up the phone.

There is a lot of design that goes into the production of certain kitchen tools, tableware, even appliances, but seldom is there art. This is one of those times.

*We are convinced that anyone who can dress a table can produce delicious food! Well, we are convinced that anyone can produce delicious food.


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