Reamers, also known to many as orange juice squeezers or
juicers, are one of the fastest growing collectibles in America today. The main reason for
this is time and efficiency. They have been replaced by electric juicers which perform the
function of squeezing juice faster, and frozen concentrate which makes providing juice to
a busy family in today's society an easier task.
The reamers were
invented over 200 years ago out of necessity when it was discovered that citrus provided a
cure for diseases like scurvy. The first reamers were all producted in Europe. Major china
companies such as Bayreuth, Miessen, Royal Rudolstadt and Limoges produced reamers for
some of the finer tables in Europe.
The first reamer was
patented in the United States around 1867, after the Civil War. It was a hand held reamer.
Next came the one piece reamer with a small saucer and a cone that was meant to fit on top
of a glass. These were quite messy as they slid and slipped off of the glass. In the
1880's a glass rim was added to the bottom of the saucer to help keep the reamer on the
glass. Around the same time, wooden squeezers with a press action were also being used.
Two-piece sets with measuring pitcher bottoms and separate reamer tops did not come along
until the mid 1920's.
biggest boom for reamers came in 1907 when a a co-op named the "California Fruit Growers
Exchange" was formed. This co-op marketed the name Sunkist to sell fruit to the east
coast. Sunkist reamers were produced as a promotional item. However, not until 1916 when
the "Drink an Orange" campaign was launched, were reamers marketed
to the masses.
Sunkist reamers were
manufactured in a variety of colors, like green, pink, blue, yellow, black and white.
White was the most commonly producted color. There were many variations of the basic
colors which are sought after by collectors today. Three different glass companies
manufactured the Sunkist reamer from 1916 till the early 1960's.
first colored reamer was actually introduced in 1922 by the Fry
Glass Co. It was called "Pearl Glass" and was so popular,
it prompted the company to add colors such as pink, green, amber,
white milk glass and finally jadeite, delfite and vaseline colors up
through 1928. This prompted many other glass companies, such
as Cambridge, Anchor Hocking, Jeannette and
McKee to join the color bandwagon. They produced a variety of shapes
and colors, with green being the most popular. Jeannette made
the last of the well known glass reamers
under the Jenny-ware line in pink, jadeite, delfite and ultramarine.
companies like Redwing, Corns China Co., McCoy, Universal Cambridge, Crooksville and the
Hall China Company also produced several reamers. Even the Coors Bottling Company produced
a series of reamers in coorsite porcelain.
By the mid 1930's, trade
agreements were entered into with the Japanese. This opened the door for a glut of
Japanese goods, including reamers. The limited number of American pottery companies could
not compete with the flood of cheap Japanese pottery reamers pouring into the dime stores
and variety stores, and eventually they stopped their production of reamers.
Also, in the 1930's, the
electric juicers became popular, taking a bite out of the glass and ceramic reamer sales.
By 1940, the introduction of frozen concentrate slowed the demand even more, making the
reamer almost extinct.
Not much has happened in
the reamer manufacturing arena since 1940. Some ceramic reamers are still produced in
Japan, but very few get to the US. Gone is the heyday of the wonderful reamer.
Reamers come in all type
of materials -- woods, glass, metal ceramic, pottery, and most recently, plastic. Shapes
vary from round, square, oblong, triangular to figurals, such as clowns, animals and
people. There are one piece, two piece and three piece reamers. They come plain, fancy,
engraved, embossed, frosted, handpainted and trimmed in gold and silver. There are
advertising reamers, souvenir reamers and regular utility pieces. The number of once
available reamers range to the thousands.
popularity of reamer collecting is attested by the number of "reproductions" starting
to show up, using the old molds. Some of these are being reproducted
in the original colors, causing
devaluation of the original pieces and overpriced reproductions being
sold. New collectors need to be aware of these pieces, as many
dealers unknowingly represent these as old.
Membership in the National Reamer Collectors Association can help a reamer
collector keep abreast of new information on old and new reamers.