Griswold cast iron | Learn about the Griswold Manufacturing Co.

Griswold cast iron

Learn the history of your Griswold cast iron cookware

There really is something special about using vintage cast iron pans and I’m not alone. Many enthusiasts enjoy collecting these old pieces of cookware from different foundries. However, you don’t need to be a collector to enjoy and preserve these old pans. You just need one. Of those looking to buy a single piece of vintage cookware, many decide to buy Griswold cast iron.

Vintage Griswold cast iron advertisement
Collectors can estimate the age of Griswold cast iron by using old catalogues and advertisements.

In this article, you can learn the history of the Griswold Manufacturing Company. I will also cover some important buying tips to consider before purchasing.

Table of contents:

  1. Learn the history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co
  2. Is Griswold cast iron any good?
  3. Buying tips when purchasing Griswold cast iron
  4. I’ll give you some final thoughts as a cast iron hobbyist

Table: The Griswold Manufacturing Company (Butt Hinge Factory)


Foundations

The origins of the foundry date back to 1868 when two families joined in a business partnership to manufacture butt hinges.

The founders

This foundry was formed by Mathew Griswold, Samuel Selden and John Selden.

The Butt Factory

Since the small foundry made butt hinges it had the
most unfortunate of nicknames. And was known locally as the Butt Factory.

Selden and Griswold Manufacturing Company

The company was coming of age and in 1873, Griswold
and the Selden brothers registered the Selden & Griswold Manufacturing Company. And the small foundry affectionately known as the “Butt Factory” was dropped.

Products made

The Selden-Griswold is the earliest know logo of the company. I’ve only seen the logo used on waffle-irons, however, I’ve read the Selden-Griswold made a variety of cookware products including:

1. Griddles
2. Skillets
3. Kettles
4. Scotch bowls

Brand Names

Selden-Griswold (The American)
S & G. MFG. CO.

Reason for closure

Rise of the Griswold Manufacturing Company

In 1882 one of the original founders Samuel Selden past away.

Selden-Griswold continued to operate until 1884 when
the Mathew Griswold bought out the Selden family stake
in the company.

I’m assuming Griswold at the time of the buyout already had in the back of his mind to further expand the range of cookware and increase production. 

However, the foundry was severely damaged by fire in 1885.

After the repairs were complete the company was renamed to the Griswold Manufacturing company.
The American cast iron waffle iron
A Selden & Griswold waffle iron with the brand name The American. This waffle was made in the 1880s. And it could have been made after the Selden family sold their interest in the ironworks. However, the patent of this design was registered in 1880.

Table: The History of the Griswold Manufacturing Company


Founder

Mathew Griswold
Vintage photo of Matthew Griswold

Operational dates

The foundry operated from 1885-1957

Located

The company was location in Erie Pennsylvania

Griswold Manufacturing Company grew to become of the largest American foundries of the 20th century.

Product line

The Griswold Manufacturing Company made a huge range of goods including: hollowware, fruit pressers, gas burners,
heaters, stoves, grinders and even electric kitchen appliances

Griswold hollowware brands

Over the years Griswold used a variety of logos and brands on their cookware. The Griswold cast iron range of cookware includes the following:

1. Erie
2. Griswold’s Erie
3. Victor (lower priced range)
4. Griswold
5. Iron Mountain (and is identified by the handle)
6. Good Health
7. Best Made S.R & Co
8. Puritan (made for Sears Roebuck Department Store)
9. Merit (made as an in-house store brand for the Sear Roebuck Department Store)
Antique Griswold cookware
Griswold manufactured a huge range of cast iron cookware. Including cookware not commonly used these days such as kettles and Scotch bowls.

Table: Griswold Manufacturing History (the rise and fall of the company)


1885-1887

After Griswold rebuilt the foundry he quickly expanded the
hollowware range and labeled his product “Erie”.

1920s-1950s


Griswold added enameled cast iron to their cookware range in the 1920s. However, you are likely to see Griswold enameled cast iron dating from the 1950s.

1930s

The company added electrical ovens, sandwich makers and
waffle-irons to their cookware range.

1937

A huge labor strike affected operations at the foundry and city
officials and the police force were needed to settle the workers
demands for higher wagers and better working conditions.

1947

Unfortunately, in 1947 a disagreement within the Griswold families resulted in the company being sold to group of New York investors.

After this date no Griswold family members were involved in the business.

1957

In 1957 the Griswold Manufacturing was sold to the McGraw Edison Company located in Illinois.

The company quickly off-loaded Griswold to the Wagner Manufacturing Company.

1959

Wagner Manufacturing was sold to Textron Inc of Rhode Island soon after and for 10 years Griswold cast iron was made in the Wagner foundry.

This was under a leadership subsidiary company of Textron called Randall Company.

1969

In 1969 the General House Ware Corporation bought the rights of
both Griswold and the Wagner.
Griswold cast iron cookware
Griswold made a variety of cookware including enameled cast iron and muffin pans.
Restored Griswold cast iron skillet
Beautifully restored Griswold skillet. Incase you are wondering the skillet has been seasoned with flax seed oil.

Did you know other foundries used Griswold and Erie cast iron as a template for their own cookware?

Griswold cast iron cookware really is superb. The cookware tends to have few casting flaws and very smooth cooking surfaces.

It is known other foundries such as Wapak Hollowware and Sidney Hollowware used Griswold cast iron skillets as templates for some of their own products. You can often see a “ghost mark” an Griswold or Erie marking on the back of competing hollowware manufacturers of the early 20th century.

It really shows the Griswold Manufacturing Co, were one step ahead of other players in the industry and their products stood out as the standard to beat.

Table: Foundries that might have used “Erie” and Griswold cast iron as templates


Eagle Stove Works

You’re likely to see the Griswold large block logo on
Eagle Stove works skillets.

Marion Stove Company

You can sometimes see an “Erie” ghost mark at the 12:00 position on Marion cast iron.

The ghost mark is often very faint.

Wapak Manufacturing

It’s not uncommon to see an “Erie” ghost mark on early Wapak skillets.

Sidney Hollow Ware Company

You can also find “Erie” ghost marks on some
Sidney Hollow Ware.

Griswold was leader within the industry and their products were often copied by other ironworks

Boonie Hicks
Wapak skillet with Erie ghost mark
It would be easier to see on a real skillet but I think you can just make out the E. It looks like Wapak used an “Erie” skillet as the original mold.

Why do cast iron enthusiasts love Griswold cast iron?

If you have a Griswold skillet then you are one lucky owner, Griswold cookware is something quite special. You probably already know cooking in a pan that’s over one hundred years old is pretty cool. Not only does Griswold cast iron look great, the pans are much lighter than todays cast iron.

Griswold cast iron seems to be one extra notch above hollowware from other foundries of the era. So, many of those wanting a great vintage iron pan often opt for a Griswold. 

“If it’s a Griswold then pretty much you know it’s going to be good”.

Griswold and Wagner Manufacturing had a full range of products, so collectors have a wide variety of products they can choose to collect. Many collectors focus on one age range or aim to collect a complete set. While other collectors may focus on one product such as coffee grinders or muffins pans. For a cast iron collector, Griswold has it all.

Griswold cast iron muffin pans
Here are a few examples of Griswold gem and muffin pans. Many collectors enjoy researching and finding scare versions. They also look great on display.

Here are some considerations to buying Griswold cast iron

  • There’s plenty of great cast iron including ironware from other foundries
  • Griswold cast iron can vary in price and condition, please take your time
  • Look closely and ask the seller questions
  • Choose your favorite Griswold marking, logo or brand before purchasing
  • If you want a Griswold skillet, then do you want one with a heat ring or with a flat base?
  • Learn about Griswold cookware from our site and other online resources

Griswold cast iron is fantastic but there’s plenty other vintage cast iron around

If you want to buy a Griswold skillet then it will most likely cost a pretty penny. Griswold made really nice cookware so people are willing to pay a premium. The cookware is highly sought-after by collectors and those who want a great vintage cast iron pan. Today Griswold is the name to own. 

A Griswold cast iron skillet in restored condition. This skillet has a very smooth cooking surface.
Griswold cast iron is known to have super smooth cooking surfaces. This skillet has been restored however, it shows how well Griswold made their products. You’ll see a lot of skillets on the site but all Griswold cast iron cookware was machined smooth like this skillet.

However, ask yourself a question do you want to pay big bucks for a frying pan? There are some great finds out there if you’re willing to take your time and effort you can still find a great pan at a reasonable price. Although if you’re buying online, expect to pay a little more.

But if you find a Griswold skillet or Dutch oven at a reasonable price and in good condition then jump at the chance. Just keep in mind prices of Griswold cast iron have rocketed skyward recently. And cast iron from other foundries might present better value.

Griswold Dutch ovens
Griswold made a variety of Dutch Ovens and roasters. Most ovens are clearly marked making identification easy.

Wagner Cast iron it’s often compared to Griswold cookware in terms of quality. Also check out Wapak, Favorite Piqua Ware, Lodge, Birmingham Stove and Range. These are some great pans and most are reasonably priced.

If you want to buy Griswold pots and pans take your time there’s no shortage

Griswold cast iron can vary greatly in price and I’ll be honest, I think some of the asking prices have really got out of hand by some sellers. Especially if you’re looking to buy online. I learned this the hard way

With my first online auction, I entered a bidding war in the final minutes for a Griswold #8. Can you guess what happened next? Ten minutes later there was another listing. It was another Griswold #8 skillet and in better condition.

The pan ended up selling for a lower price. Griswold cast iron is antique, however, it’s not scarce. You can really take your time, there are new listings every day.

How much should I pay?

The sold listings on eBay give you an idea on what people are paying. Also, have a look at the logos on sold pieces. A skillet with slant Griswold logo will sell for a higher price than a Griswold small logo.

There is also another problem, some sellers are asking huge prices. I shake my head in disbelief occasionally. Are sellers just trying their luck or are truly unaware of the market value?

Griswold cast iron skillet 710 number #9 skillet with slant logo.
This skillet has the slant logo. Keep on the look out for these pans. Pans with the slant logo are considered to be some of the best Griswold made.

Griswold Manufacturing used different logos, markings and brands. Which one is your favorite?

If you find a bargain at a garage sale then go for it, otherwise, Griswold cast iron especially skillets can command a bit of a price tag. So what would you do? If you’re willing to pay for a Griswold skillet in good condition then wait a little longer for a skillet with the markings you like. 

What do the Griswold logos look like?

As mentioned earlier Griswold Manufacturing made several different cookware brands. Griswold and Erie are the most popular and within these two brands. Griswold also had some variations of their logo. The Cast Iron Collector is a great resource if you want to learn more about Griswold logos.

But I also have a great resource you can use to identify your Griswold cast iron using logos. To read the article just click the link.

Some Griswold markings are rarer than others which could affect the price. A lot of collectors focus on one Griswold marking for their collection. But if you’re looking for a single pan then wait for a pan with your favorite logo.

Smooth bottom pan or a skillet with a heat ring?

This is really up to you, a skillet with a smooth bottom is just like modern pan. However, skillets with a heat ring were designed for coal or wood ranges. Both choices are great and will not affect the results of your meals. However, if deciding which to buy, ask yourself two questions.

  • Do you want to collect Griswold cast iron?
  • Do you just you pan just to cook great meals?

Griswold skillets with heat rings are more sought-after by collectors and they command a higher price than skillets without a heat ring. If you want a really collectible Griswold then go for a skillet with a heat ring. But if you just a pan for cooking then a smooth bottom pan is be a great choice.

What would I do? If your budget allows, go for Griswold skillet with a heat ring. It’s just my personal preference. I think skillets with heat rings have more character and that old world charm.

Griswold cast iron skillet number 11 showing large block logo
Griswold Manufacturing Company used different logos over the years. This number 11 skillet has the large logo is written in block lettering. Around the skillet is a raised lip. This lip is called a heat ring, heat rings were was designed for use on wood or coal burning ranges.

Learn about Griswold cast iron from online resources and social networking

There’s a Griswold Facebook group, Reddit pages and clubs which have friendly meetups. You can share recipes seasoning tips. I like looking at what people are cooking, it’s also a great way to make friends that share the same hobby.

Cooking in vintage cast iron is cooking with history

I love history and find the stories of these old foundries fascinating. Sadly, most are no longer in operation. If you have vintage cast iron not only do you have a great pan you have a piece of history. Is it worth paying a little extra, I think it is how about you?

If you want to learn more about antique cast iron cookware you may find the Vintage Cast Iron page interesting. The page has more articles on the foundries of the 19th and 20th century and their cast iron is pretty good too.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I purchased a smooth bottom slant letter EPU cast iron 11” skillet. It the EPU under the logo and Cast Iron Skillet in an arc above the logo. There is also an 8 at the base of the handle on the front? From what I read this would be pre 1939 and one of the rarer Griswolds? Can you give me anymore info?

    • Hi Linda

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I would place the Griswold slant logo without heat-ring circa 1939-1944. You can check the pictures in this guide to double check the logo on your pan. But the slant logo refers to the GRISWOLD in the center in the circle cross logo, slightly italicized.

      You’re right, the Griswold slant logo on smooth bottom pans is more scarce. And you can pat yourself on the back for picking one up. Nice find.

      Enjoy your purchase Linda

  2. Hi Boonie

    I have a #8 Griswold, small logo, inscribed 10 1/2 inch skillet E made in USA. I’m wondering if Griswold used the made in USA even though the company was sold before it was required.

    Thanks

    • Hi Justin

      Thanks for your question and it’s a very good one.

      The introduction of Made in the USA marking on cast iron cookware is uncertain. I use the after 1960 date as a rough guide like many other enthusiasts. But this leaves the question of your skillet. Yes, I believe your skillet was made after 1960. I guess the new owners of Griswold wanted to use the brand recognition and patterns of the company.

      But you’ll notice on your skillet, it doesn’t have Erie PA. under the logo. This shows production of the ironware had moved from the original foundry in Pennsylvania.

      You might see a letter on the back of the handle. This letter is an indication your skillet was produced in the Wagner foundry.

      Hope this answers your question

  3. I got my grandmothers Griswold waffle iron. It is a no. 8 151 pat’d July 11, 1922 with a pat’d 154 base. Does this mean it was made in 1922? Or how can I tell what year it was made?

    • Hi Shayla

      I hope you are enjoying your grandma’s waffle iron.

      The date of July 11, 1922 is a patent date. Without seeing your waffle iron, Griswold probably introduced this model a few years after receiving the patent. Most likely Griswold would have used this pattern into the 1930s and possibly into the 40s.

      Hope this points you in the right direction

  4. I’ve been enjoying exploring your website as I found it while researching a kettle I found recently at a Las Vegas New Mexico flea market for $25. After following Kent Rollins tips to restore and season, I found the following on the bottom: “ERIE” / MASLIN KETTLE / MADE BY / THE GRISWOLD MFG. CO. / ERIE PA / 938 / 8QTS I intend to use this kettle to deep fry zucchini from the garden in order to keep the house cooler in this summer heat here in the land of enchantment. Great informative website! Bravo Zulu from a retired Navy Submariner.

    • Hi Naga Jolokia

      Thanks for getting in touch and I’m really pleased you found the site useful.

      It sounds like you stumbled upon a bargain with your Erie kettle. Nice find.

      I think Kent Rollins is brilliant. He’s a lot of fun and love how he is able able to communicate his passion for cast-iron and cowboy cooking. I trust the restoration of your kettle turned out well. When restoring, I like to stay away from any kind of power tool to keep the iron in original condition.

      You may already know the age of your Erie Muslin kettle from your research. But for a comparison, I think your pot is from the very early 1900s.

      A retired Submariner. I’m in the middle of an isolated part of Fukushima, Japan, and that can be hard enough. I take my hat off to Submariners, they have incredible mental fortitude. But I bet you have some fun memories.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

  5. I have a Griswold Pancake griddle with Erie. It has the circle cross with Griswold, looks like block letters, 739 number, has an 8 on the bottom and the handle and has an x across the bottom, my guess it’s for strength. I got this from my grandmother. I have looked for information but I am not finding anything. Does anyone know anything about this and when it was made.

    • Hi Tom

      Thanks for your question. And I’m sure your grandmother is really happy you are researching her old griddle. There’s a few different styles of Griswold griddles but your correct the big X on the base for reinforcing. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if it was to help distribute heat evenly. From the description of your griddle I think it was made circa 1909-1920. If the griddle only has the Erie marking with Griswold logo it was made early in this timeline. But if your griddle has the wording CAST IRON GRIDDLE at 12 o’clock then from 1909 to 1920.

      Really hope this helps

  6. Hello

    I have a Griswold, large slant logo, 10 inch, 716 A. The 10 is at the top of the logo and ERIE is below the logo.

    The 716 A is below ERIE. It has a heat ring and the number 10 on the handle. Can you please tell me the age of the pan? I use it almost daily.

    Thanks in advance

  7. Hello! I have a Griswold 709 B small logo with a 3 on the handle.The odd thing about it is that parts of the pan are polished to a high shine and look like polished stainless steel. Any ideas?

    • Hi Frank

      Thanks for the question

      Griswold had several different finishes on their cast iron. It sounds like your skillet has a chrome finish which protects the iron from rust. Some skillets have plating on the inside and outside while others are plated only on the outside. Because of the age of antique cookware, plating is often worn off and patchy.

      Interesting that you say it looks like stainless steel because modern stainless steel cookware contains at least 10 percent chromium.

      Enjoy your skillet

  8. I have acquired a griswold griddle and with one side is the logo with about a 1″lip and the other side 10″ on handles with a 1/4″ lip.
    Never used one before, I’m Dutch oven spolied.
    Logo side down for cooking?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Clay, thanks for the question.

      You got it. I’d also use a vintage griddle with the logo face down. You’ll probably find it easier to slide your fingers under the handles to pick up and move around.

      Enjoy cooking up a storm with your vintage iron.

  9. I have a small logo #8, 704 T without a heat ring. What is unique is the handle. Normal design is absent. Handle is hollowed out entire length of handle. Is this unique or design flaw?

    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks for the message. It sounds like you have a Griswold grooved handle. It’s not a flaw. Your skillet most likely was made around 1944-1957.

      Hope this is of help.

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