Marion cast iron: Learn about your antique ironware

Marion cast iron skillet made by Marion Stove Company

Do you have a piece of ironware with a single word on the base which reads Marion? Then you have a scarce piece of cast iron cookware from the Marion Stove Company.

Unfortunately very little is known about the company. However, on some skillets and kettles, there are hidden markings called ghost marks. And we can use these markings to estimate the age and date your ironware. The handle and heat ring are other signs of a possible date of manufacture.

Fancy learning more? Here’s what this article will cover.

Table of contents

Company information
Logo placement
Is Marion cast iron is any good?
Estimate the date of manufacture
Marion Stove Company's foundry
There’s little information and the Marion Stove Company. However, the company first started in Sidney Ohio in 1855. Then renamed after it moved to Marion Indiana.

Marion Stove Company information


Founders

F.J Gould and E.P Fruhey

Operational dates


The company started production in 1888. The 12th of October 1929 is the last date of published record.

Located

Marion, Indiana

Product line

Stoves, furnaces, cookware

Company specialization

The company focused on high-end heating stoves

Marion brands

Retort Oak, Marion Oak, Marion

Reason for closure

When and why the company ceased operation is unknown. However, strong competition, technological change, labor and economic disruptions were likely major contributing factors.
Marion Stove Company cast iron Retort Oak Stove
Marion Stove Company focused on making heating stoves. However, keep an eye open for their cast iron cookware line.

Position of the Marion logo

Let’s start with the logo placement. If you have a Marion skillet, check the position of the logo. The logo will be in one of three places, slightly above center, center, or below center. I’m unaware of the reason as to why there are different logo placements, but it’s an interesting fact nevertheless.

See the pictures below for examples.

Logo above center

Marion cast iron skillet with a logo slightly above center.
You can see the logo on this lovely Marion skillet is slightly above center.

Logo in the center

Antique Marion kettle with logo in the center
Here’s an example of the logo in the center of a Marion kettle.

Below center logo

Marion cast iron skillet below center logo
The logo on this Marion number 8 skillet is slightly below center.

Is Marion cast iron any good?

Griswold and Wagner ironware receives a lot of attention from those interested in cast iron. And for good reason the cookware from the two companies is brilliant. However, many foundries of the 19th and early 20th centuries produced high-quality hollow ware, equal to Wagner and Griswold.

Cast iron from Marion Stove Company is one of these companies. The cookware tends to be lightweight and smooth. And if you have a piece of cookware from Marion, there’s a bonus, they’re really hard the find.

Erie Ghost marks

It looks like the boys at Marion Stove Company used Erie skillets as molds or templates to make their ironware. And it’s not uncommon to see Erie ghost marks on Marion skillets. For me, it adds to the character of the ironware and makes the vintage cast iron fun to collect.

Using another company’s product as a template is terribly dishonest in this day and age. But interestingly Marion was not alone. And you’re likely to see Erie ghost markings on other foundries cookware such as Sidney Hollow Ware.

Marion skillet with Erie Ghost Mark
You can just see the outline of the Erie Ghost Mark. Erie cast iron cookware was made by the Griswold Manufacturing Company. So it looks like the Marion Stove Company used Erie skillets as a template to make their own cookware.

Identifying and dating your antique Marion cast iron

Determining the date of Marion cast iron cookware is difficult. Unfortunately, there is little information available, and the company seemed focused on producing heating stoves, ranges and furnaces.

There are also a few variations and changes in the design of the cookware.

From what I can piece together the company started production of cookware around 1888. However, when they ceased manufacturing is unclear. On 12 October 1929, trademarks of Marion Stove Works were re-registered. But I’m unsure if this was to apply for a new patent or to possibly transfer ownership of trademarks to a successor.

This date is less than two weeks before the Great Depression. And I suspect production of stoves and furnaces did not resume after this date.

Marion cast iron was likely circa 1888-1900s.

Although using 1900s indicates before 1910s it also covers the entire century. However, unless otherwise informed I’d say most Marion cast iron hollow ware is circa 1888-1910. Any later than this date, I’d like to see changes in the design of the cookware. Such as the trend in the early 1900s of using insert heat rings instead of out side heat rings.

I’ve seen sellers list Marion cast circa 1888-1900s. And I tend to agree for the following reasons.

  • Marion cookware looks similar to early Erie and Wagner cookware.
  • Erie ghost marks present on some cookware.
  • Foundry burning down limiting resources for hollow ware expansion.
  • Industrial actions in the early 1900s resulted in work stoppages across the U.S.
  • Company focus on stove and furnace manufacturing.
how to tell the age of your vintage cast ion Marion skillet.
Here’s my Number 7 skillet. And on it is a few indicators collectors can use to estimate the age of Marion cast iron.

Final thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and have fun cooking up a storm in your Marion. If you want to learn more about vintage cast iron, you might want to check out the articles below.

Keep and treasure you’re Marion cast iron if you can. Because Marion Stove Company manufactured hollow ware in much smaller quantities than other manufacturers such as Wagner and Griswold. And pieces are also getting hard to come by. It’s hard to put an estimate on the date of manufacture. But since the ironware looks similar to early Wagner and Erie pans of the 1890s we can assume Marion pans are of the same era and possibly into the early 1900s.

Cheers, happy collecting.

References

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here