Thomas and Claire Schlesser share the essential details they look for in antique French kitchen tools—from materials down to seams—and highlight their favorite finds, all available at
Coffee Mills

© Ethan Hill

1. Coffee Mills

Some of the most coveted antique coffee mills have an hourglass shape, like this late-18th-century French iron model that clamps onto a counter. This one also has the maker’s mark stamped on the clamp, which adds to its value ($1,200).


© Ethan Hill

2. Earthenware

“France’s Alsace region was, and still is, a great producer of earthenware because of its soil quality and abundant forests, which provide wood for firing kilns,” Claire says. Most antique pieces from Alsace have a brownish-orange glaze; the heart shape of the cake mold shown above is also typical. It was made in the late-19th century or early-20th century and was most likely used for weddings or engagement ceremonies ($225).

Butcher’s Hatchets

© Ethan Hill

3. Butcher’s Hatchets

French butcher’s hatchets vary widely in shape, but Claire’s favorites are the zoomorphe, with their distinctive figural or abstract animal shapes, including horses, pigs and deer. The most popular shape is the fox; the example above was made of steel with a mahogany-and-brass handle, in the late-19th or early-20th century ($425).

Copper Pots

© Ethan Hill

4. Copper Pots

“Pots and pans made before the 1880s are usually dovetailed; the pieces are connected by joints known as dents des loups—wolf’s teeth—on the bottom of the pan,” Claire says. The short handle on this saucepan from the mid-19th century indicates it was used on a stovetop, not a hearth ($200).