It is fun to learn the history and origin of old cast iron cookware. It can also be a huge learning curve. Here are tips to help you with your research as you venture into the world of vintage cast iron skillet identification. This is an overview; there are many ins and outs and exceptions, of course.
The Internet has opened up a myriad of ways to identify cast iron. Be as descriptive as you can when doing your search. There, if you are lucky, you will find identifying information about your pan.
While you might find information, verifying its accuracy is always a good idea. If the manufacturer has placed its logo or name on a piece, it is much easier to identify the time frame within which the pan was made. There are many resources to help you identify and date a piece when you know the manufacturer. There are also very knowledgeable and passionate long-time collectors out there who have a vast amount of information about vintage and antique cast iron cookware.
Most are happy to share their knowledge with beginning cast iron enthusiasts. Two clubs that have been very helpful to me, and of which I am a proud member, are: Especially as I began my adventure into the world of vintage cast iron cookware, collectors on the forums of these sites were more than generous with their time and expertise in helping me identify and date vintage and antique cast iron cookware that I came across.
A gate mark appears as a raised scar or slash across the bottom of pans. Gate marked pans are the oldest of the old cast iron cookware; almost certainly antique.
In around , this casting process was mostly discontinued. Old gate marked skillet griddle. Absent markings on the pan, it is often impossible to identify the maker of a gate marked piece. If you have a gate marked piece, you have an old and valuable piece of history; you just might not know the maker. Lodge cast iron skillet circa s — How thick are the walls and how heavy is the skillet? Pans of recent vintage have thicker walls than do antique pans. They are also heavier in weight.
Number 8 Lodge cast iron skillet circa s — ; 4. Note that the thickness of the wall of the more recent vintage Lodge on the left is almost twice that of the antique ERIE spider skillet on the right. This pan was manufactured in around This skillet, in excellent condition, can be worth thousands of dollars.
Griswold ERIE spider skillet, mfd. The spider skillet is one of the most — if not the most — collectible of Griswold cast iron cookware. A more common unmarked Griswold line is Griswold Iron Mountain pans. These pans were manufactured in the s. Iron Mountain pans are fantastic cookers! I love my Iron Mountain pans. The distinctive handle shape easily identifies Iron Mountain skillets. They also have a heat ring, pan number and 4-digit product number in a slightly italicized font imprinted on the bottom.
Number 7 cast iron pan manufactured by the Griswold Manufacturing Company as part of the Iron Mountain line, circa s. Iron Mountain pans have a distinctive shape to the handle. Iron Mountain skillets have a heat ring and 4-digit product numbers and the pan number in a slightly italicized font on the bottom.
Some of the Victor pans have the Griswold name on them and some do not. The later Victor pans also carried the Griswold name. Victor cast iron skillet number 9 manufactured by the Griswold Mfg. If the pattern number is on the Puritan or Merit skillet it was manufactured by Griswold. If not, it was manufactured by Favorite. If a pan has one or more notches in the heat ring, it is likely a vintage Lodge. Unmarked pans with a heat raised letter on the underside, along with a raised number on the handle, may have been made in the late s — by Blacklock, the foundry that preceded the Lodge foundry.
Vollrath Manufacturing Company, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Vollrath manufactured many items of kitchenware from the late s until today. Some of the Vollrath cast iron skillets have the Vollrath name on them, and some do not. If you run across a pan with an underlined number imprinted sideways on the bottom center of the pan, you likely have a pan that was manufactured by Vollrath pan in thes and s.
Vollrath cast iron skillet no. BSR manufactured many pieces of kitchenware. BSR manufactured non-enameled cast iron pans between about and Take a good look at the underside of the handle of your no-name skillet.
Is there a ridge that goes all the way to the outer wall of the pan? This is a telltale sign of all unmarked BSR pans. Telltale BSR ridge on underside of handle; fully reaches to side wall. There are three primary BSR lines of cast iron skillets. All have the ridge on the underside of the handle that goes directly to the side wall.
These skillets typically have only a number, often followed by a letter, incised in the bottom of the pan near the handle. The pour spouts on these skillets are smaller than seen on other skillets.
Beneath the number is the diameter of the pan in inches, i. BSR Century Series skillet no. They are marked the same as the s Century skillets, but the name of the piece — i. Wagner Manufacturing Company, Sidney, Ohio: Unmarked Wagner pans are commonly found. Often times unmarked Wagner pans are mistaken for BSR pans.
One notable difference is that the ridge on the underside of the handle flattens out before it meets the side wall of the skillet. The flattening out is a telltale sign that the pan was not manufactured by BSR. Unmarked Wagner cast iron skillet; ridge on underside of handle flattens out where it meets the outer wall. The bottom of unmarked Wagner pans may be smooth, or they may have a heat ring. They may be marked with the size in diameter, e. The pans often have a letter on the bottom of the pan in a Times New Roman-type font, and on the underside of the handle.
Unmarked Wagner Ware cast iron skillet; marked only with B on the bottom of the skillet and on the underside of the handle. Note the Times New Roman type face. Unmarked Wagner Ware skillet. Note the Times New Roman type face and break in ride on underside of handle.
Note letter on bottom of skillet and underside of handle. Unmarked Wagner post s. The line is therefore somewhat blurred as to whether certain pieces were manufactured by CHF or by Favorite. There is debate in the cast iron world as to whether these pans were manufactured by CHF or by Favorite. I hope that this little dissertation on identification is helpful to you as you hunt for vintage cast iron cookware!