Thos. Mills & Bros


The Thos. Mills & Brother company manufactured many different items.  They manufactured confectioners, bakers' and ice cream machinery and equipment.


They are probably the most famous manufacturer of clear toy candy moulds / molds as well other confectionary equipment. They did not make confections or ice cream but they manufactured the equipment and tools used to make these treats. They would sell their equipment to confectioners and other equipment distributors.  I found evidence of this in the a catalogue for the Confectioners & Bakers Supply Co. (aka C&BS), Chicago.  Catalogue "B".  In it you can clearly see the exact pages from the Thomas Mills and Sons catalogue but with the Mills name blocked out. Another interesting item in the catalogue are the photos of the C&BS facility.  It shows various part of the business looked like and I am sure it is similar to what the Thomas Mills facility would have looked like.


Getting Their Start

I have found conflicting dates for when the company was established.  What I have been able to find out is that it acutely was all started by John Gardiner. He is considered the pioneer in tool manufacturing for the candy / confection making industry. He procured copies of the machines and moulds used in the European manufactories and then in 1851 opened his business. This is according to Philadelphia and its manufactures By Edwin Troxell Freedley.  At some point Mr. Gardiner married a woman with 2 sons, Thomas and George M. Mills.  Gardiner educated the men in the craft and in 1864 they succeeded to the business under the name of Thomas Mills & Brother. Their shop was located at 901 Nassau street, Philadelphia PA.  As of 1867, Mills was the largest Confectionersí Tool company in the country.  The Mills brother made ornamental branches and Pieces Montes in particular, for which Philadelphia is famous.  According to "Philadelphia and its Manufactures" 1867, it is stated "It may be safely asserted that the aggregate product of Confectionery, made in this city amounts to $1,500,000 annually" .


In 1912 the President of the company was George M Mills. (pg 73, Yearbook By Franklin Institute)

According to their "Cooking Utensils and Bakers Tools" catalogue, dated 1888 the company was founded in  1853, which is closer to the starting date of  John Gardiner's business. In their "Confectionersí Machinery and Tools" catalogue, dated 1920, the company was founded 1864.

Thomas Mills & Clear Toy Molds

I read in an article that the first clear toy candy molds were patented by the "Mills & Clad" company in 1866. But the molds that are dated 1866 have "Mills & Bro" stamped on them, leading me to believe Mills and V Clad did not make them together. In fact I have not seen a single mold with a mark like that.  I also have V. Clad molds and Thos. Mills molds in my collection.  I wonder if Mills manufactured molds for V. Clad. 


In 1874 Thomas Mills & Brother entered the Franklin Institute Exhibition.  The Exhibition had 267,638 paying visitors (not including members of the institute, their ladies, and minors). 

Thomas Mills & Brother were listed under category XXIX.- 13.- Sugar Machinery and Chemical Appliances. Thos. Mills & Brother won Silver medals for Excelsior Candy Toy Machine, Improved Cocoa Nut Grating M'chn. and Fruit Drop Machine.

Excelsior Candy Toy Machine Medal. 1874

Improved Cocoa Nut

Grater Medal. 1874

Fruit Drop Machine

Medal. 1874

They also won in 1904 the Gold Medal, Highest Award at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the Saint Louis World's Fair).

Addresses for Thomas Mills & Sons.  

Thos. Mills & Brother

 Philadelphia and its manufactures

By Edwin Troxell Freedley


1864 -  901 Nassau street, Philadelphia PA


1867 - No 901 Nassau street, Above ninth Cherry and Race Street, Philadelphia PA (per ad)


1876 - 1301-1303 N. 8th St. Philadelphia, PA


1917 - In Simmon's Spice Mill Magazine, March 1917 edition, 1305-1311 N. 8th St. Philadelphia, PA


1912 - In Year Book 1912 by the The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania,  George M Mills is listed as President with address of 1301 North 8th street, Philadelphia, PA.


1919 - In Simmon's Spice Mill Magazine, March 1919 edition, 9th street and Thompson Sts., Philadelphia is listed at Mills current address. 


1930 - The Business was located in Philadelphia, PA at 1301 - 1303 - 1305 - 1307 North Eight St. but by 1930 they had added the addresses 1309 - 1311 - 1315.


1876 Thos Mills & Bros Ad

Thomas Mills & Sons Patents


1866 - Improvement in Confection Pan

1868 - Improved Machine for Making Candy Toys

1870 - Improved Ice Cream Freezer

1872 - Improvement in Ice Cream Freezer

1873 - Machine for Granulating Cocoa-nut

1878 - Designs for Stick Candy

1881 - Ice Breaker

1882 - Candy Whistle

1883 - Ice Cream Dasher

1890 - Ice Breaking Machine

1903 - Means for Adjustably Spacing Disk Cutter

1904 - Adjustable Gear

1907 - Rotary Ice Breaking Machine

1908 - Dasher for Liquid Freezers


Design for Stick Candy 1878




Thomas Mills & Sons Timeline


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Photographs owned by Suzanne Wainwright-Evans.
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