The Favorite, vintage cast iron by The Columbus Hollow Ware Co.

Antique cast iron skillet called The Favorite by Columbus Hollow Ware Company

Does your skillet have the words “THE FAVORITE” on the back? Then you have of a piece of antique cast iron from the Columbus Hollow Ware Co. Unfortunately, there is little historical information on the company. But we know Columbus outsourced manufacturing to the Ohio State Penitentiary to make “The Favorite” brand and this makes your cast iron different from other manufacturers.

Here’s what you can learn from the article

  • Company information
  • The age of your vintage ironware
  • The history of The Favorite ironware
  • How to correctly identify Columbus Hollow Ware
  • Final thoughts

The Columbus Hollow Ware Co


The Columbus Hollow Ware Co

Operational Dates

The foundry operated circa 1882-1902


Columbus, Ohio

Cookware Range

Skillets, kettles, bailed griddles and long griddles

Cookware Brands

Columbus produced one cookware brand known as THE FAVORITE
Columbus Hollow Ware Co
Columbus Hollow Ware contracted Ohio State Penitentiary to make THE FAVORITE range of cookware.

When did Columbus Hollow Ware make The Favorite cast iron?

I’ve searched high and low for manufacturing dates. Unfortunately, there is little information available. However, the consensus “The Favorite” line of cast-iron cookware was made between 1882-1902. And Columbus probably made early hollow ware in their own foundry, before outsourcing all manufacturing to the Ohio State Penitentiary.

The Favorite cast iron skillet
Columbus Hollow Ware Company made cast iron cookware which included skillets, griddles and kettles between 1882-1902.

Ohio State Penitentiary

When the Columbus Hollow Ware Company outsourced manufacturing to the Ohio State Penitentiary is unknown. But it’s likely the original foundry didn’t produce hollowware after production shifted to the penitentiary.

It was not just in any prison, but one of the most notorious State prisons of the 19th and 20th centuries. Apparently, conditions inside were absolutely horrendous. Sadly, disaster struck in 1930 long after The Columbus Hollow Ware Company and a large fire within the prison resulted in many casualities.

The Penitentiary where your cookware was made is fascinating. Unfortunately, a lot of the history is not very pleasant.

Life in the prison must have been a complete nightmare for the prisoners. Here’s a quote from one of the former wardens in the time when inmates were making cookware for The Columbus Hollow Ware Company.

The Ohio Penitentiary is before you.

A prison whose history is replete with as much that is thrilling and romantic as anything that can be found in the pages of The Count of Monte Cristo or the History of the Bastille.

Warden B.F. Dyer

Correctly identify Columbus Hollow Ware

Columbus Hollow Ware is easy to recognize. However, the company’s, The Favorite brand is sometimes incorrectly identified as ironware from the Favorite Stove and Range Company.

So, how can you identify Columbus Hollow Ware?

Check the back of your pan for the words “The Favorite” And if has THE FAVORITE logo then you have a piece of cast iron from the Columbus Hollow Ware Co. On skillets, the logo is located at the 12 o’clock position. And the lettering is all in capitals.

Identify vintage cast iron called "The Favorite".
Here’s a nice clear photo to identify your own vintage cast iron made by The Columbus Hollow Ware Company. Note the simple logo “The Favorite” at 12 o’clock.

On the other hand, if your pan has “Favorite Pique Ware” or “Favorite Cook Ware” on the back it’s from a different foundry. And made by either, Favorite Stove and Range or Chicago Hardware Foundry Co.

You can click the link if you want to compare logos or learn more about vintage cast iron cookware from these foundries.

Is The Favorite cast-iron brand collectible?

The antique cast-iron brand THE FAVORITE by Columbus Hollow Ware has everything collectors and enthusiasts are looking for. These include:

  • thinly cast ironware
  • smooth cooking surfaces
  • heat rings
  • old world charm

However, Columbus Hollow Ware is unlikely to sell Griswold or Wagner prices. Which tend to command higher prices online and at auctions.

But any enthusiast that finds one of these beauties will be beaming. After all, you don’t come across Columbus Hollow Ware every day. Also many Columbus hollow Ware skillets have the same look and feel as the highly sought-after Erie skillets.

Final thoughts

The Favorite cast iron by Columbus Hollow Ware are real pieces of 19th century Americana. Even though the brand is not as well-known as Griswold and Wagner. You can expect the cast iron to smooth and lightweight like other ironware made of the era.

It’s truly amazing that your cookware was made by inmates of the prison. I think this makes your antique cast iron different from other manufacturers. You are very lucky to be a proud owner of Columbus Hollow Ware.




  1. Looking for help….have a 10-1/2” chicken fryer (bottom only)…has the slot for the “hinged top skillet/lid. 2-1/2 side wall. Base markings are at 6 o’clock “10-1/2 INCH CHICKEN FRYER” under that is “MADE IN USA” under that is “Z”. The handle does not flatten to wall, has a 2 step protrusion. Top of handle is marked “8” & handle has raw rounded teardrop opening.

    I’ve looked in various lighting for ghost marks & can not detect any.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Lori

      Thanks for the contact and detailed description.

      I believe you have a late Wagner Ware Chicken Fryer manufactured by General Housewares Corp. Unmarked pieces are notoriously hard to identify, but I suspect the fryer was made before the company introduced their own logo. As for an approximate age, I’d say late 1960s to early 1970s.

      Cheers Lori, hope this helps

  2. I’ll admit that if it is cast iron, I can’t pas sit up, so now I have a well fairly encrusted 5 quart dutch oven with cover. As near as I can tell, it says 5 QT DUTCH OVEN on the bottom and probably says Made in Korea, below that, but nothing else, as far as I can tell. The cover has a #4 stamped on the inside. I’m guessing it is worthless, but might be worth cleaning up to actually use. what do you think? Wayne

    • Hi Sawyer

      Thanks for reaching out.

      It’s good to hear from an enthusiast. I know the Asian made cast-iron is frowned upon by many collectors. And if you clean it up, you’ll probably only receive the value of a second hand pot. So it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort to restore the oven. Unless you’re restoring a whole heap of ironware at the same time.

      But it you’re going to use it yourself, there’s no reason not to clean it up and put it back in to kitchen service.

      Many vintage Korean and Japanese made ironware are fine quality, but there simply don’t have the collectability.

      Hope this helps

      • Well, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t try to restore it, but I did scrub it up good, reseasoned it a couple of times and popped a chicken into it and stuck it on the woodstove on the special rack that I made years ago. Tasty chicken! We’ve given our daughters all of the cast iron they’ll ever need, I guess we’ll put this one in a grandchild’s lap someday…Wayne

  3. Two Columbus Hollow Ware Companies

    1. The first Columbus Hollow Ware started 1882 to 86 purchasing the Foundry from John Harker. The take away is a Waffle Iron marked “THE FAVORITE” and John Harker plus a Tea Kettle with a John Harker patent of 2-13-1883 date also marked “THE FAVORITE”. Owned by Whiting and bankrupt by AG Patton who had the contract with Columbus Prison.

    2. Second Columbus Hollow Ware entered into a contract with the Columbus Penitentiary in 1897. Unmarked Prison Ware.

    • Hi H.W.

      It sounds like you’re another collector. Thanks for taking the time to send in your thoughts and to pass your knowledge on Columbus Hollow Ware.

      It’s most appreciated.


    • Hi Lawrence

      Thanks for your feedback and it’s most appreciated. I currently work in Japan and thought it was a good idea to add information on Japanese cast iron while I’m over here. I have a couple more articles planned on Japanese enamelware. Then, I’ll shift focus back to American ironware. Hopefully, I’ll add some more on articles on vintage hollowware.

      However, longer term, I’ll start doing historical cooking. I hope you’ll find it interesting. And I think it will appeal to a wide audience.

      Lots of thanks


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