We felt that, given how much this blog has talked about herb grinders, that we should dig a little deeper into these devices and talk about their history.
Afterall, besides being a point of interest, knowing more about the history of weed grinders can help us develop greater appreciation for and interest in these fantastic little machines.
In this article, we’ll talk about who invented the herb grinder, who it was that made the first herb grinder resembling what we see today, and explain when these advances were made.
So enjoy a little history with your grind!
The herb grinder was invented by William Wingfield and John Balding of Boort, Victoria, Australia. They patented their novel grinder in 1905. Their invention closely resembles the modern hand grinder, which shows that the original design has largely proven reliable over the past century:
Pretty cool to see the original design as drawn by the inventors over one hundred years ago!
This original grinder was likely a game-changer for the grinding tobacco, herbs, and other plants ground for medicinal purposes. Herbs have been ground for thousands of years as part of early cooking and medical treatments, but prior to the modern herb grinder this grinding would have been accomplished using devices such as the mortar and pestle, or by simply shredding by hand or grinding between rocks.
Innovations like the Wingfield-Balding grinder take a common task and make it far more efficient and improve the final product: imagine how hard a mortar and pestle would have been on delicate herbs.
The heading above may seem similar to the previous section, but we’re asking a slightly different question here. We know who patented the first true herb grinder, but that doesn’t mean that these individuals were successful in bringing the product to market.
Oftentimes people build upon a simpler product and create something better, and they do a better job focusing on selling the product.
There are many, many different manufacturers of herb grinders today, and especially hand grinders.
Afterall, the hand grinder is a fairly simple device and many people probably looked at one and thought “I can make it a little better”.
This isn’t really known, simply because grinding herbs has been an activity in apothecaries and kitchens for so many years. It is likely that the small hand grinder described in the 1905 patent above was originally used by small businesses that wanted to grind tobacco and medicinal plants for customers, and eventually found their way into people’s possession for personal use.
Nowadays, many companies are dedicated to the manufacturing and selling of herb grinders, and there are many options in terms of size, style, and construction materials.
This is a tricky question to answer. From above, we know that the modern hand grinder was officially patented in 1905, so we know that rotating herb grinders have been around since at least the early 1900s.
However, cultures have used herbs and plants for medicinal and religious purposes since the dawn of humankind, so unless herbs were being broken down by hand, there must have been devices used for grinding as far back as these traditions date.
For example, simply using two rocks to grind herbs together would be considered a grinder, and this is probably what led to the mortar and pestle. The bowl used in the mortar and pestle would have been a significant advancement since it would have resulted in far less waste than other methods.
We can see, then, that it is difficult to define a certain date when the modern herb grinder was invented, as this is a device that has progressed through major and minor changes to pre-existing designs, all being used for a purpose that predates modern historical records.
This is probably the biggest takeaway from the history of the herb grinder: it is a product who’s history demonstrates the inventiveness of people, and is a tremendous collaboration of many inventors instead of just a single mind.
Innovation is key here.
Even though there may be a product on the market that does an okay job doesn’t mean that a better one isn’t around the corner.
Take the Mamba electric grinder, for example. This is a grinder that has features that may resemble earlier grinders, but the designers here have taken drawbacks from other grinders and completely redesigned the device to produce a product that takes grinding to new levels.
Just as the mortar and pestle was likely a huge improvement over using hands or two rocks, the Mamba tremendously improves upon the design and functionality of the modern herb grinder and sets a new precedent.
You learned something today! Look at you go!
There you have it, a quick but thorough history lesson on herb grinders. We hope that this offers you a little insight into your grinding, and shows you that herb grinders have come a long way: sometimes through little tweaks, like the plastic herb grinder, or major advances, such as the Mamba V2 electric grinder.
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