Griswold cast iron | Learn about the Griswold Manufacturing Co.,

Griswold cast iron

Griswold cast iron cookware does it deserve the hype?

Sure Griswold cast iron is silky smooth which vintage cast iron enthusiasts love but other foundries had slick cooking surfaces too. So what makes Griswold so special? When it comes to antique cast iron, Griswold really is king. Let’s find out what makes it so good?

Griswold skillets were so good that other foundries used them as a template for their own cookware.

Griswold cast iron cookware really is superb. Even other foundries such as Wapak Hollowware and Sidney Hollowware used Griswold cast iron skillets as templates for some of their own products. It really shows the Griswold Manufacturing Co, were one step ahead of other players in the market and their products stood out as the standard to beat.

Today rare Griswold cast iron can cost thousands of dollars to the serious collector. However you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great pan. More on that later on. 

Restored Griswold cast iron skillet
Beautifully restored Griswold skillet. Incase you are wondering the skillet has been seasoned with flax seed oil.

Learn the history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co. Why Griswold cast iron is so good? Have a look at some buying tips for Griswold cast iron cookware.

In this article you can find out;

  1. Why Griswold cast iron is so good?.
  2. The fascinating history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co.
  3. Some buying tips when purchasing Griswold cast iron.
  4. I’ll give you some final thoughts as a cast iron hobbyist.

Do you love vintage cast iron? If you do you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve research carefully, although I’m not a cast iron expert I love the history of these old foundries and have fair collection of vintage cast iron. I have a soft spot for Sidney Hollow Ware, Favorite Piqua Ware and have several pieces of Griswold cast iron. In fact my first vintage cast iron skillet was a Griswold. I was a bit hasty in my purchase so hopefully I can help you avoid the same mistakes.

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 lighter, also they tend to be smoother than other markers.

Although other foundries made great cookware and will do you proud. Griswold seems to be one extra notch above other foundries. Therefore 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 Manufacturing Co and Wagner Manufacturing had a full range of products therefore collectors have a wide variety products they can focus on. Many collectors focus on one age range or collecting a complete set. While other collectors may focus one product such as coffee grinders or muffins pans. For cast iron collectors Griswold has it all.

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.

Is Griswold cookware really that good?

Yes it really is. Griswold Manufacturing Co, made fantastic cookware. In fact some of the foundries of the 19th century may have used Griswold “Erie” molds or most likely used Erie skillets as templates to make their own molds.

It’s not uncommon the see Wapak skillets with a ghost mark with the world “Erie” lightly embossed into Wapak skillets. This practice would surly infringe on copyright and patent laws these days. However it highlights if other foundries were trying to copy Griswold designs they must have been pretty good.

Griswold was respected in the industry after all they say “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

Griswold Manufacturing Co. reigns supreme when it comes to antique cast iron. Although Griswold is not the only option, there are other standout foundries that also made great cast iron cookware.

There were many ironworks which made fantastic cookware. Let’s face it Griswold pots and pans tends to be more expensive than cast iron from other foundries. Cast iron from these foundries are probably my favourites and their history is just amazing.

Wagner Ware was the other leading foundry which is also well known to have made very fine cast iron, however Wagner cast iron tends to be cheaper. Favorite Piqua Ware, Wapak, Martin Stove and Range also made amazing cast iron cookware. 

How about a vintage Lodge there’s good reason why Lodge Manufacturing is still making cast iron cookware…it’s good. 

What I’m trying to say you don’t need to spend big bucks on a Griswold cast iron skillet when you may be able to pick up a really nice vintage iron skillet from another foundry. Your town may have had a little foundry back in day, it would be fantastic to preserve these old pieces. 

The history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co.

The history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co, dates back to 1868. However like many foundries the company didn’t make cast iron cookware at first. For Griswold, the young company started making butt hinges and a variety of metalware. 

Who founded the company?

This young company was established Pennsylvania in 1868 by Matthew Griswold, his cousins and two brothers of the Selden family J.C Selden and Samuel Selden. It wasn’t until 1873 the foundry was named, Selden-Griswold Manufacturing Company.

The Selden-Griswold Manufacturing Company

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:

  • Griddles
  • Skillets
  • Kettles
  • Scotch bowls

Selden-Griswold operated until 1884 when the Griswold bought out the Selden family stake in the company. I’m assuming Griswold at the time of the the buyout already had in the back of his mind to further expand the range of cookware and increase production. 

Disaster for the company

Around 1885 disaster struck with a fire burning down the ironworks and the foundry had to be rebuilt. Fire must have been a real concern for ironworks in the 1800s with Blacklock, Sidney Hollow Ware Co, and Marion Stove Company which also had fires that burnt down their foundries.

Griswold rebuilt the foundry and renamed the company Griswold Manufacturing Co.

In 1887 after rebuilding the company was renamed to the Griswold Manufacturing Company. The company continued to expand to become one of the largest cast iron cookware makers of the late 1800s to the mid 1900s.

Griswold added enameled cast iron to their cookware range in the 1920s and in the 1930’s Griswold added electrical ovens, sandwich makers and waffle-irons their range.

When did Griswold Manufacturing stop making cookware?

By 1940 Griswold Manufacturing was struggling financially. Like many foundries of the time including Griswold’s main competitor Wagner Manufacturing Co, were both hugely affected by Great Depression which negativity impacted sales.

In 1946 the Griswold family sold Griswold Manufacturing to a New York investment firm. I can only imagine the stress of running a company during the time. The Great Depression followed by world world II, and another downturn in sales after the war.

However there’s good news you can still cook in a vintage Griswold.

Griswold cast iron cookware really does last a lifetime and much of their cookware is still around and enjoyed today. However you may pay more than a brand-new Lodge.

Griswold used many logos and trademarks over the years which include:

  • Selden-Griswold (The American)
  • Erie
  • Griswold’s Erie
  • Victor (lower priced range)
  • Griswold
  • Iron Mountain (the iron mountain range has no markings and is identified by the handle)
  • Good Health (made for another company)
  • Best Made S.R & Co (made for the Sears Roebuck Department Store)
  • Puritan (made for Sears Roebuck Department Store)
  • Merit (made as a in-house store brand for the Sear Roebuck Department Store)

Erie cast iron is very light and made thinner than other Griswold cast iron. Just like Griswold cast iron, Erie cast iron can cost a pretty penny, however you may find the other trademarks selling for a lower price. However they were all made by the Griswold Co, so they’ll be great cookware.

Griswold cast iron skillet with Griswols's Erie logo
Great skillet with the Griswold’d Erie logo. This skillet has a little pitting on the base, which is not uncommon with a skillet this old. Pitting occurs when cast iron cookware has been used on a wood or coal range.

Here are some considerations to buying Griswold cast iron.

  • Griswold’s great however there’s plenty of great cast iron out there.
  • Griswold cast iron can vary in price and condition, please take your time.
  • Look closely and ask questions to the seller.
  • 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 Manufacturing 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. It is highly sought-after by collectors and those who want a great vintage cast iron pan, Griswold is the name to have. 

However ask yourself a question do you want to pay big bucks for a frying pan? There’s some great finds out there if your willing to take your time and effort you can still find a great pan at a reasonable price. Although if your buying online then you may have to pay internet prices.

If you find a Griswold skillet or Dutch oven at a reasonable price and in good condition then jump at the chance. However prices have rocketed skyward recently and there are other choices if you want a lovely vintage pan. 

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 likely priced reasonably.

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 to 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 learnt this the hard way

I won the auction by entering a bidding war. 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 at a lower price. Griswold cast iron is antique however it’s not scarce you can really take your time there are new listings everyday.

So you want to buy a Griswold skillet, whatever you do do your research on prices. 

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

There is also another problem there are a few sellers are asking huge asking prices. I shake my head in disbelief at the price. Are sellers just trying their luck or are 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 you favourite?

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 I 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 had variations on the Logo. The Cast Iron Collector is a great resource if you want to learn more about Griswold logos.

Some Griswold marking are a little 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 favourite logo.

Smooth Botton pan or a skillet with a heat ring?

This is really up to you, a skillet with a smooth bottom are 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 these 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 with 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. However if you just a pan for cooking then a smooth bottom pan could 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 skillet with heat ring have more character 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 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 its also a great way to make friends that share the same hobby.

Griswold cast iron is it worth it? Let’s recap.

There is good reason why Griswold cast iron skillets were used for templates by some of the early foundries. Today Griswold cast iron is the most sought-after vintage cast iron with collectors and enthusiasts. Griswold Manufacturing cookware does not disappoint the iron tends to be silky smooth unlike most of todays manufactures.

Research before you buy, prices can vary greatly.

Although Griswold cast iron can be really costly you can still find bargains at estate and garage sales and cast iron auctions. However if you are buying online then expect to pay a bit more. I would recommend researching carefully before purchasing so you get a feel for what Griswold’s are selling for. I feel some online sellers have sadly over inflated their asking price. 

A good way of seeing the current market value for antique cast iron is to check out the sold listing on ebay.com. 

Heat ring or no heat ring.

A Griswold skillet with a heat ring is probably going to cost a little more than one without.  Skillets with heat rings are favored by collectors so you maybe able to pick yourself a great piece of vintage cast-iron that will cook just as well as one with a heat ring at a lower price. 

However I would still recommend a Griswold skillet with a heat ring. I think they have a lot more character and are more collectible if you want to start collecting.

Have a look alternatives to Griswold cast iron, there is plenty of other foundries that made fantastic ironware.

I have a fair amount amount of Griswold cast iron and it lives up to the reputation as being great cookware. However there are alternatives to Griswold cast iron such as Wagner Ware.

Cooking in vintage cast is is cooking with history. 

I love history and find the stories of these old foundries fascinating and most of these foundries. 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. It has more articles on the foundries of the 19th and 20th century and their cast iron is pretty good too.