If you’re lucky enough to have a piece of vintage cast iron made by the Sidney Hollow Ware Company. Then you have ironware from the 19th century of history in your hands. Amazingly, you can find old Sidney skillets at Estate sales, antique auctions, online, and thrift stores for a relatively small price.
I have a couple of Sidney Hollowware skillets, and they are excellent 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.
Table of Contents
- Company Information
- How the Sidney Hollow Ware Company Started
- Company Setback
- Growth of the Casting Works
- Introduction of Cast Iron Cookware
- Wagner Buyout
- Final Thoughts
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.
Phillip Smith and the start of the 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, but in 1859, he moved to Sidney, Ohio. Smith brought with him the knowledge of molding he learned from Thompson, McGregor, and Callahan Company.
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. When a fire burned 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.
Getting back to business.
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.
As the business grew, the company undoubtedly introduced early cookware such as kettles. And produced more precision casting, such as steam engines, boilers and was now casting many 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 added to the product range to include cast iron hollowware, what we often refer to as 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 line. After all, Smith had worked so hard to rebuild his company and was doing well.
Interestingly, the script logo, which is considered to be older than the two logos. And only had the word Sidney and the letter O. No mention of Sidney Hollow Ware on the skillets.
Sidney Hollow Ware may have started making spokes for wagons. But were quick to jump on the cast-iron cookware bandwagon like other foundries.
Like many foundries during this time, the Sidney Hollowware Company 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. As many households were making the switch from open fire cooking to range cooking. 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 machine 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 Company continued to well under the leadership of Smith. However, the company was sold to Wagner Ware in 1897. Reportedly Sidney Hollowware was sold to Wagner for $35000. Not bad, considering the initial investment was just $25.
After the takeover, Wagner Manufacturing probably produced the Sidney line of cookware in the former Sidney Hollow Ware foundry. This, unfortunately, leads to misidentification between the two makers.
Sidney Cast Iron by the Wagner Manufacturing Company.
Today cast-iron cookware made under the ownership of 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 a Wagner cast iron skillet characteristic. Being in straight block-lettering 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 a fascinating history. And 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. 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 fascinating. If you are fortunate enough to have a piece of Sidney Hollowware made under the leadership of Phillip Smith, please consider yourself lucky.
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 do not need a Griswold if you want a great skillet. And if you are starting out in the world of collecting ironware. Then it is hard to look past Sidney Hollow Ware. However, with any antique, please research carefully before buying.