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
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 Confectioners’ 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.
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
In their "Confectioners’
Machinery and Tools" catalogue, dated 1920, the company was founded
Thomas Mills & Clear
I read in an article that the first
clear toy candy molds were
patented by the "Mills & Clad"
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
Franklin Institute Exhibition.
(Images from the 1874 Exhibition
5) 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.
Improved Cocoa Nut
Grater Medal. 1874
Fruit Drop Machine