If you’re lucky enough to have a piece of vintage cast iron made by the Sidney Hollow Ware Co. then you have a real piece of history in your hands. It’s amazing that you can find old Sidney skillets at Estate sales, antique auctions, online, and at thrift stores for a relatively small price.
I have a couple of Sidney Hollowware skillets and they are wonderful to use. Just like other cast iron made during the time, Sidney cast-iron has smooth cooking surfaces. And the ironware tends to be lighter than modern cast-iron.
Sidney Hollow Ware Co.
|Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio (hollowware production)|
Operational between 1886-1897
(Sold to Wagner Manufacturing Company)
Produced a small selection of hollowware such as, kettles, griddles, Scotch bowls, and waffle irons
Sidney, Sidney Hollowware Co.,
Sidney Hollowware cast-iron tends to be very light, even when comparing vintage cast iron made by other manufacturers
The beginnings of Sidney Hollow Ware Co.
Smith rolled the dice and took a chance
Like many businesses back in the day, it all started with one person packing up everything and rolling the dice. In the case of Sidney Hollowware, it was a young man named Phillip Smith.
Smith was born in Pennsylvania, however, in 1859 he moved to Sidney Ohio. Even though he was only 21 at the time, Smith brought with him the knowledge of molding he learned from a company called Thompson, McGregor, and Callahan.
Along with his brother, Phillip Smith founded P. Smith Bro. & Co. for the grand sum of $25. Although, Phillip would later buy out his brother to what would become Sidney Hollow Ware Co.
The young company took on any work it could to get established
Like many of the early foundries P. Smith Bro. & Co did not manufacture cookware. First, the young company took any casting work they could find. Even Griswold Manufacturing which started as Selden & Griswold, had humble beginnings making door hinges.
Even though we know Sidney Hollowware for cast-iron cookware, the manufacture of cookware was to come later.
When the future of the foundry was looking bright disaster struck
After Smith and the company became established. The company began producing bells for churches and schools. Unfortunately, when business was picking up disaster struck, with a fire burning down the foundry, sometime in the 1860s. Without insurance, the foundry struggled to get back on its feet. However, through sheer hard work and determination, Smith managed to rebuild.
Smith was on his feet again
By the 1870s Philip Smith must have gotten back on his feet. And Smith bought out a company that was making ploughs. With a play straight out of modern business strategy, Smith rehired the former owner as a consultant.
Along with early cookware such as kettles and farming ploughs. Smith made more precision casting such as steam engines, boilers and was now producing quite a number of cast-iron bells. To do this Phillip Smith must have had a great understanding of metal casting. He was undoubtedly respected within the industry.
The cookware from Sidney Hollowware
Philip Smith proceeded to expand the business. In 1886 he expanded the business to include cast iron hollowware, what we often refer to pots and pans today. Was this when the name Sidney Hollowware Co. was stamped on their cookware? Or was it earlier after the fire, referring to kettles and bells as hollowware?
Within the cast-iron community, 1886 is when the company started to manufacture cast-iron cookware.
Today it would seem strange to change the business name for a new product range especially when Smith had worked so hard rebuild his company, and was doing well.
Interestingly the script logo, which is considered to be older of the two logos only had the word Sidney and the letter O. No mention of Sidney Hollow Ware on the company’s skillets.
Sidney Hollow Ware may have started making spokes for wagons but they jumped on the cast-iron cookware bandwagon like other foundries
Like many foundries, during this time Sidney Hollowware may have seen an opportunity to make cookware. There was great demand from customers wanting cast-iron cookware for use on coal or wood ranges. Instead of a simple griddle or kettle hung above an open fire. To have an indoor range during this time must have seemed ever so modern.
Many pieces of Sidney cast-iron are plated with nickel. And from what I’ve seen, they must have been highly prized, with some plated skillets still in good overall condition.My Sidney skillets are incredibly smooth and obviously machined polished with great care.
However, the company also made cast milling machinery and copper tub wringer-washing machines. To keep up with demand the company ever had to employ an extra 20 staff.
Wagner Manufacturing buys Sidney Hollow Ware Co.
The Sidney Hollowware Co, continued to well under Smiths leadership until the company was sold to Wagner Ware in 1897. Reportedly Sidney Hollowware, was sold to Wagner for $35000. Not bad considering Smith’s initial investment was only $25. After the takeover Wagner probably produced the Sidney line of cookware in the former Sidney Hollow Ware foundry. This unfortunately, leads to misidentification between the two makers.
Identifying Sidney Hollow Ware. And Sidney cast iron by Wagner Manufacturing Co
Today cast-iron cookware made under the ownership Wagner is often referred to as “Wagner Made” Sidney cast iron. The logo may have changed slightly. Keeping the simple wording Sidney, however, the logo took on more of a Wagner cast iron skillet characteristic being block printed instead of the script stylizing.
Bringing an end to what we know as Sidney Hollow Ware under the leadership of Phillip Smith. To learn how to identify Sidney Hollowware cast iron “here”. Wapak Hollow Ware also has an interesting history you can read all about it “here.”
Smith wanted his Sidney Hollowware back
Smith bought back Sidney Hollow Ware Co. from Wagner Manufacturing Company in 1903. I would love to know why. To place a guess, I think it was hard for Smith to give up something he poured his heart and soul into.
However, Smith did not restart the foundry and in 1907 he retired from the business. Unfortunately, this was due to health reasons. Smith and his wife traveled continued to contribute to the community until his passing in 1914.
Sidney Hollowware Co. makers of fine cast-iron cookware
The history of the Sidney Hollowware Co is truly amazing. If you are fortunate enough to have a piece of Sidney made cookware made under the leadership of Phillip Smith, you really have a piece of history in your hands.
Keep an eye out for them in estate sales, garage sales and of course online where you can find a wide variety of cast iron. Occasionally Sidney skillets, griddles and kettles come up for sale.
You don’t need a Griswold if you want a great skillet. If you’re looking a piece of Sidney Hollowware, and starting out in the world of collecting ironware. Then it’s hard to look past Sidney Hollow Ware.