Griswold cast iron cookware does it deserve the hype?
There really is something special about using vintage cast iron pans and I’m not alone. Many 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 pan. Of those looking to buy a single piece of vintage cookware, many decide to buy a Griswold. In this article, you can learn the history of the Griswold Manufacturing Company. Also, the price of Griswold cast iron can vary greatly depending on the quality and rarity of the cookware, so I cover some important buy tips you may want to consider before purchasing.
If you want to identify or date your Griswold cast iron skillet then click to our identification guide.
Question; “Is Griswold cast iron really that good?”
Short answer; “Griswold cast iron is some of the best antique cookware you can cook with. I gotta say the reputation is well deserved.
Cooking with Griswold cast iron is a real pleasure, however other foundries from the 19th and 20th centuries also made some topnotch iron.
Why is Griswold cast iron so good? In my opinion, Griswold cookware is a safe bet. Vintage pans are not cheap so if you’re looking for a quality pan then it doesn’t get much better than Griswold.
However there other great foundries that made equally amazing cookware. Many say Wagner made equal if not better cast iron than Griswold. I’m a fan of Sidney Hollow Ware and Favorite Piqua Ware. Of course, there’s Wapak and Lodge the list goes on. However, Griswold cookware remains number one for many cast iron enthusiasts and home cooks.
Learn the history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co. What makes Griswold cast iron better than other cookware? Also if you want to buy Griswold cast iron cookware then check at the buying tips in the article.
Table of contents,
- Why Griswold cast iron is so good?
- The fascinating history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co.
- Some buying tips when purchasing Griswold cast iron.
- I’ll give you some final thoughts as a cast iron hobbyist.
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.
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 a 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 of products they can focus on. Many collectors focus on one age range or collecting a complete set. While other collectors may focus on one product such as coffee grinders or muffins pans. For cast iron collectors Griswold has it all.
Is Griswold cookware really that good?
Yes, it really is. The Griswold Manufacturing Company 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 word “Erie” lightly embossed into Wapak skillets. This practice would surely 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 ironwork foundries 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 a 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 the day, it would be fantastic to preserve these old pieces.
The history of the Griswold Manufacturing Co.
The history of the Griswold Manufacturing Company 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. Wiki.
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:
- 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 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. The risk of 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 the 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 War 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)
- Griswold’s Erie
- Victor (lower priced range)
- 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 an 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. But 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.
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 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 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. But 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 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 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 every day.
So you want to buy a Griswold skillet, whatever you do do your research on prices.
The sold listings on eBay give 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 truly unaware of the market value?
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 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 also had some variations of their logo. The Cast Iron Collector is a great resource if you want to learn more about Griswold logos.
Some Griswold markings 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 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 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 skillets with heat rings have more character and that old world charm.
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 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 a 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 today’s 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 overinflated 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 might be 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 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 iron 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.