Wagner cast iron | Wagner Ware history, dates and logos.

Antique Wagner cast iron skillet cooking Okonomiyaki

Identify and date your Wagner cast iron cookware using logos. Also learn the fascinating history of Wagner Manufacturing

Wagner cast iron cookware is regarded by many as some of the finest examples 19th and 20th century cast iron. This could be due to the fact, much of the cast iron is over 100 years old and still very usable today. These antique pans are sought-after by enthusiasts and those preferring vintage cast iron to newer pans. But identifying and dating these old Wagner Ware Sidney -o- pans can be tricky.

So, with this article I hope to help you and other proud owners, identify and to give an estimate on the age of your cookware. You can also learn the history of your cast iron manufactured by the Wagner Manufacturing Company.

Here’s what you can find in this article

  1. Wagner cast iron “why is it so collectible?”
  2. Learn the history of the Wagner Manufacturing Company
  3. Where you can buy Wagner cast iron
  4. Considerations when buying Wagner cast iron cookware
  5. How you can identify and date antique Wagner cast iron using trademarks and logos
  6. Final thoughts on collecting vintage Wagner Ware cast iron

But first here’s a quick look at the Wagner Manufacturing Company.

Table: Background to Wagner Manufacturing cast iron


Founders

Milton M. Wagner and Bernard P. Wagner

Operational dates

The foundry in Sidney operated from 1891-1959

Located

Wagner was location in Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio

Product line


Wagner was one of the largest American manufacturers of cast iron products in the 20th century.

Their product line included: skillets, kettles, bean pots, Dutch Ovens, roasters, fruit presses, scoops, boilers, griddles, waffle irons, muffin pans and cornbread pans.

The company also had a range of aluminum cookware.


Wagner brands

Wagner used different logos and had a range of budget
friendly brands.

Wagner labeled their cookware under the following names:
Wagner, Wagner Ware Sidney -o-, Wagner Ware, National,
Long Life, Magnalite, Wardway and Ward’s Cast Iron

Signature products

Wagner is best known for the Sidney -o- range of skillets and Dutch Ovens.

Reason for closure

The reason for the closure of the foundry came from two
fronts.

Firstly, the Wagner family sold their interests in the company
in 1953 and was ownership transferred to the
Randell Company.

Secondly, the company struggled financially because of a drop
in sales. This was due to two World Wars, the Great Depression, the development of new cookware materials and the increase of lower priced imports from Asia.

Wagner after buyout

(non collectable cast iron)

In 1957 the Randall Company purchased long tern competitor Griswold from McGraw Edison.

The Randall Company was sold to Textron Corp in 1959.

Textron was sold to General Housewares Corporation in 1969.

In 1994 production of Wagner Ware ended
Wagner Manufacturing Company History
Picture of the Wagner Manufacturing Company. Also note the wording you’re likely to find on Wagner cookware.

Why is Wagner cast iron collectible?

Super smooth cooking surface

Wagner cast iron is highly collectible for good reason. Like most antique cast iron, Wagner, manufactured very high-quality cookware for their entire range of cast iron products.

Unlike Wapak cast iron which often has very characteristic casting flaws. Wagner cast iron tends to have few casting flaws resulting in very smooth cookware on both the interior and exterior of the cookware.

Wagner Ware Sidney O skillet on a table

Focus on quality

It’s really neat to think that workers would have worked on individual pieces, and machined smooth the interior and exterior of each pan. You can only see this level of detail in high end cast iron cookware such as Le Creuset and Staub.

Today Le Creuset and Staub have the benefit of combining traditional and modern methods of manufacturing. However, for the workers at Wagner, to make cast iron cookware without casting flaws or bubbles must have taken great skill and attention to detail.

Wagner cast iron with two other antique cast iron skillets.

Wagner made a huge range of cast-iron cookware

Sure, I think you can’t go wrong with a good old Wagner cast iron skillet it will serve you well for years and they’re great fun to use. However, you may want to to consider a Wagner Dutch oven. They are super smooth just like the skillets and reasonably priced. You can also buy cast iron muffin pans, which can be pretty cheap. Although watch out for shipping costs, cast iron can be weighty. Some of the Wagner cast iron cookware range includes:

  • Dutch ovens
  • Griddles
  • Gem pans
  • Waffle irons
  • Skillets

You can even collect Wagner cast iron cornbread pans that are in the shape of corn cobs. Wagner Manufacturing also produced aluminum cookware. Which must have seemed revolutionary for the time.

Collect your favorite logo

If you are looking for a vintage skillet then Wagner skillets are a great choice. You can choose from sixteen different logos and trademarks or markings. I like pans with heat rings while others may prefer a pan with a smooth base.

I think this wide selection makes Wagner cookware more collectible than other manufactures such as Vollrath and Martin Stove and Range which made a limited range of products and used fewer logos.

Wagner cast iron skillet on a table. This skillet shows this Wagner Ware Sidney O logo

Wagner Manufacturing Company focused on quality over quantity

Quality was a focus from the very start for Wagner Manufacturing Company. They even advertised to consumers this selling point. Old advertisements read; 

“We do not strive to manufacture hollow ware as cheaply as possible, but as good as it can be made. We cannot afford to put on the market ware that will not sustain our reputation. The name ‘Wagner’ is cast on the bottom of each piece of ware.”

Wagner Manufacturing Company History

Founders and foundry


Who founded Wagner Manufacturing?

Wagner Manufacturing Company was founded in 1891 by Milton M. and Bernard P. Wagner. However, two more Wagner brothers, Louis, and William Wagner joined the company in the following years.

Another key player in the foundation of the company was R. Bingham. Bingham previously worked at Marion Stove Company and the Sidney Manufacturing Company.
Where was Wagner cast iron and Wagner Ware made?The company was based in Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio.

Although early cookware was simply stamped Wagner, later Wagner included Sidney O. to their cookware around 1895. The term Wagner Ware was used when Wagner added “Ware” to their logo in the 1920’s. 
Black and White photo of William Wagner.
Willian Wagner the first President of the Wagner Manufacturing Company. Photo credit goes to the Shelby County Historical Society.

Nickel plating, aluminum, Magnalite added to the Wagner product line


Nickel plated cast-iron

To complement their cast iron range, Wagner added a nickel
plated range.

Unlike cast iron and copper pots, nickel plating does not react to
acidic foods such as tomatoes which can taint food.

It’s easy to look past the development of nickel plating however,
in the 19th century bonding two metals together would have required great expertise in metal casting.

Aluminum cookware

Along with nickel plated cast iron the Wagner brothers in 1894 manufactured a line of aluminum cookware which Wagner Manufacturing was one of the first companies to do so. 
Aluminum cookware exported to EuropeBy 1913 Wagner cast iron and aluminum products were selling in Europe.
Magnalite
In the 1930s Wagner manufactured a cookware line with a patented aluminum alloy which they called Magnalite. Here is an eBay article on Magnalite if you want to learn more.
Great black and white photo of a Wagner Manufacturing Company sales truck
Wagner Manufacturing Company sales truck. Photo sourced from the Shelby County Historical Society.

Wagner Manufacturing buys their Sidney competition

Wagner bought Sidney Hollowware Company In 1897 Wagner bought a Sidney based competitor called Sidney Hollow Ware Co. from the founder and owner Phillip Smith.

Sidney Hollow Ware made very high quality cast iron cookware that was extremely light and smooth. Sidney Hollow Ware Co. were also early adopters of nickel plating cast iron.

Why did Wagner buy Sidney Hollow Ware Company?


It was quite shrewd to buy the Sidney Hollow Ware Company, after all, Wagner Manufacturing and Sidney competed in the same city and made comparable products.

However, it was common knowledge that Smith made a tidy profit from his original investment in the foundry. To run the Sidney Foundry, William H. Wagner joined the family business to oversee the operation.

Wagner sold Sidney Hollow Ware back to Phillip Smith

In 1903 the Sidney Hollow Ware Company was sold back to the original founder Phillip Smith. Sadly due to health reasons Phillip Smith did not reopen the foundry.
Sidney cast iron made by Wagner
Photo credit to Lanny Wadle

Wagner introduces a new product line to stop a decline in sales

The Great Depression

(Magnalite)

I have to take my hats off to Wagner because they introduced a new product line called Magnalite in one of the deepest recessions the world have ever seen.

Wagner Manufacturing was steadfast on making only quality products because of this the cookware is collected and used to this day.
Drop in sales
Although Magnalite was introduced to stop falling sales at Wagner Manufacturing it was not due to their product range.

Magnalite which was hugely popular could not offset the effect of one of the biggest recessions.

From 1929-1941 the US was in the grips of what we now call the Great Depression therefore not only Wagner but many other foundries struggled to survive. Many didn’t.
Wager Ware Sidney O skillet and two Sidney hollow ware skillets

The family sells their interest in the foundry


Wagner family sells the company to Randall Corp

Wagner Manufacturing Co. lasted longer than many foundries however, in 1952 Wagner was sold to the Randall Company. Unbelievably the Randall Company was a car parts manufacturer.
Textron buys Randall
In 1959 the company was sold again. This time to a company called Textron, Textron had also purchased Griswold Manufacturing Company earlier.

At this time it is considered production of Wagner Ware stopped. Wagner cast iron pans made after this date are currently considered not as collectible.
General House Wares
General Housewares Corporation in 1969 buys the rights of Griswold and Wagner.
Is Wagner Ware still made?
With the world rediscovering cast iron cookware, will we see Wagner Ware skillets manufactured again?

General Houses Ware stopped the manufacture of Wagner Ware 1994.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for Wagner Ware. In 2014 American Culinary bought both the Wagner and Griswold trademarks.

So fingers crossed cast iron fans, one day they may decide to manufacture Wagner cast iron again.

Where can you get your hands on some Wagner Ware?

  • grandparents (best deal and great to keep your heritage in the family)
  • antique stores (check online to compare the store price)
  • garage sales (rescue those poor skillets from the tip)
  • flea markets (search the markets for hidden gems)
  • online (largest selection available however, asking prices can vary greatly)
Wagner Ware cast iron skillet cooking traditional Japanese food

Buying considerations before you buy antique Wagner Ware

Remember I’m not a cast-iron expert, however, here’s my tuppence worth as an enthusiast.

1. There’s plenty of Wagner cast iron around, take your time

There’s no shortage of Wagner cast iron. In fact Wagner had a huge market-share of the cookware market back in its hay-day. And there are plenty of fantastic Wagner skillets and Dutch ovens around in great condition.

2. What size skillet or Dutch oven suits your needs

The first thing you may want to think about is the size you need. There are often plenty of #8 skillets around. This size seems to be the most common, not only for Wagner skillets but for most of the other vintage cast iron manufacturers such as Favorite Piqua. If you’re interested in a Dutch oven then a Wagner Ware Dutch oven could be just your ticket.

3. Inspect carefully, some Wagner Ware is nickel plated

Check the cookware carefully. The Wagner Manufacturing Company were early adopters of nickel plating. Although much of Wagner cookware will be made of just cast iron, heavy seasoning can hide nickel plating. Nickel plated can wear off or be patchy in places. Take a close look before purchasing.

4. Would you like a Wagner Ware skillet with a smooth bottom or with a heat ring?

Do you want a pan with a smooth bottom or one with a heat ring? The older Wagner Ware skillets will have a heat ring while the later made pans have a smooth flat base. It’s really a personal preference. I tend to like the older skillets with heat rings. I think they have more character but the smooth bottom Wagner cookware tends to be a little cheaper and from all accounts, they’re also great cooking pans.

5. Does the cookware sit flat?

As with all antique cast iron it could be a good idea to ask the seller if the pan sits flat. This is especially important if your cooking on a flat surface such as induction or glass.

Learn how to date and identify your Wagner Cast iron using loges and markings

Although I’ve researched carefully please use the dates as an approximation only. 

Wagner cast iron cookware to my knowledge has sixteen known logos, brands or markings. These include:

Straight Wagner logo 1890s-1915

Wagner Cast Iron with Wagner Straight Logo
Two Wagner Cast iron skillets with the “Wagner” in straight block text. Note this logo lacks the Sidney -o- marking seen in later logos. Circa 1891-1915.
Wagner Dutch oven restoration
Thanks to a kind reader who sent in this photo to add to the helpfulness of this resource. We can see an example of a Wagner Dutch oven with a straight logo. Note the unusual placement of the size number. That’s one great find.

Wagner arc logo 1891-1910

Wagner Cast-Iron Skillet with arc logo
An early logo used by Wagner. Circa 1891-1910
Wagner cast iron skillet with arc logo.
The arc logo may overlap the block logo. Circa 1891-1910

Double Arc Wagner Sidney O 1895-1915

Wagner Cast-Iron Skillet with double arc logo
In the double arc logo both “Wagner” and Sidney are in a slight curve. I don’t see these beauties too often. Keep an eye out for them.

Sidney Arc logo circa 1897-1903.

Not much is known about vintage Sidney skillets. However, many cast iron enthusiasts believe they were made in the Sidney Hollowware foundry after the company was sold to Wagner Manufacturing.

Straight Sidney logo circa 1897-1903.

Antique Sidney cast iron skillet
It’s hard to place an accurate date on when. Wagner produced these Sidney cast iron. I’m willing to change my mind but currently I date this cast iron Circa: 1887-1903. During this period Wagner Manufacturing owned and operated the Sidney Hollowware Company.
Straight Sidney cast iron logo.
Sidney cast iron skillet made by Wagner after the Sidney Hollow Ware was sold to Wagner Manufacturing Company. Center straight logo circa 1897-1903

Straight Wagner Sidney O. (Centered.) 1910-1915

Antique Wagner cast iron skillet identification
Antique Wagner Sidney O skillet. This logo is centered and both Wagner and Sidney is straight in block lettering. Circa 1910-1915

Wagner Sidney O. Wagner slightly arced while the Sidney lettering is straight. Circa 1915-1920s

Vintage Wagner Skillet
Arc Wagner and straight Sidney logo. This skillet was made from 1915 through the 1920s.

First Wagner Ware Sidney O. with Arc Wagner and straight Ware and Sidney. Circa 1920s.

Wagner Ware Sidney o kettle
Here’s a little kettle with a scarce Wagner Ware logo. Check roasters and kettles for logo.

Stylized Wagner Ware Sidney O. for regular skillets. Circa 1920-1924 with heat ring and single digit size number. 1924-1935 with heat ring and a four digit pattern number. Around 1935-1959 for skillets with no heat ring.

Wagner Ware Sidney o with stylized logo
You’ll see a lot Wagner Ware with the stylized logo. This skillet has two other methods we can use to place an age on the skillet. You’ll notice this skillet has a four digit pattern number and a heat ring. So, I think this skillet is Circa 1924-1935.
How old is my Wagner Ware skillet
Here’s a great skillet with a smooth base. This skillet was made circa 1935-1959.

Centralized Stylized Wagner Sidney O. 1924-1935 with heat ring. 

Vintage Wagner Ware Sidney o
Vintage Wagner Ware Sidney o with the stylized logo placed in the center. Circa: 1920-1935

Pie Logo 1924-1934 to the best of my knowledge (different authoritative published works are inconsistent).

Wagner skillet with pie logo
Wagner Skillet with pie logo. This skillet does not have a heat ring. So I think it is unlikely it was made prior to 1930. Circa 1930-1934

National cast iron 1914-1940s. 

There are several different versions of cast iron with the National marking. This budget friendly range was manufacturing from circa 1914 to 1940.

National cast-iron skillet
This National cast-iron skillet made by the Wagner Manufacturing Company. This skillet has large lettering in an arc. It was likely made between 1914-1930
National cast iron skillet with star markers mark.
Enonomy brand of Wagner Manufacturing Company. Circa 1914-1920s

Long Life logo 1930s.

Long Life Skillet
Cast iron Long Life Skillet made by Wagner. This skillet was made in the 1930s.

Wardway and Montgomery Ward. Wagner Manufacturing Company was contracted by Montgomery Ward Department store to produce an in-store label. 1930s.

Wards cast iron skillet
This wards cast iron skillet was made in the Wagner ironworks in the 1930s. And It was sold as a house label for Montgomery Ward Department store.
Montgomery Ward cast iron skillet logo
Montgomery Ward cast iron logo.
Wardway cast iron skillet
Here’s a Wardway cast iron skillet. Montgomery Ward contracted Wagner to make this in-store brand. And it was most likely made in the 1930s.

Fortunately, Wagner cast iron is easier to date than other foundries of the time. Wagner Ware also has a huge collector base so dates are well documented. The Cast Iron Collector is a valuable online resource for enthusiasts also there are facebook groups you can share your love of cast iron cookware.

Final thoughts on Wagner cast iron.

The Wagner Manufacturing Company was known for quality over quantity and therefore had a great reputation for trustworthy products. Today Wager cast iron is highly prized with collectors. However, you don’t need to be a collector to enjoy vintage cast iron.

Although many cast iron enthusiasts may look for a Wagner made skillet, you’re not limited there. Wagner Manufactured a huge selection of cast iron goodies, therefore you may find yourself becoming interested in:

  • muffin pans
  • Dutch ovens
  • Scotch bowls

Since Wagner made some of the finest cast iron of the 19th and 20th century Wagner cast iron is enjoyed by cast iron fans and hobbyist alike. If you have found this article interesting, take a look at our vintage cast iron page, if you want to find leading foundries from the 19th and 20th centuries.

238 COMMENTS

  1. Good morning, Mr Hicks
    My challenge is a 9 inch Wagner Sydney. It has no heat ring, but has a molded screw impression.
    I hope you can identify the year(s) of manufacturing.
    It’s priceless, yet would like a reference to its value.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Hi William

      It sounds like you have a stylized logo. Check this reference guide for estimates on dates.

      I’ve seen the screw indentation on a few Wagner skillets. And it’s believed it was a way for the foundry workers to quickly identification and for quality control.

      I’m pleased you value your family ironware as priceless. However, eBay is a good way to learn about current value. Just see the sold listings, to see what buyers are willing to pay.

      Have fun cooking up a storm in your vintage pan.

  2. Do you know the age range of the Drip Drop line? Wanting to match a Drip Drop skillet cover to the proper era skillet. Thanks.

    • Hi Kris

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Wagner manufactured several different lids. I believe Wagner made Drip Drop Skillet Cover circa 1920s-1930s. You didn’t mention a pattern number, found on the inside of the lid.

      Does your lid have raised lettering, and three zip-zag basting rings? Then I believe you want to look for a 1920s era skillet.

      Hope this points you in the right direction.

    • Hi Louise

      You’re not alone for your fondness of Wagner Ware Mangnalite. Vintage pieces are prized by collectors, and those that use the cookware. But unfortunately, Magnalite is no longer manufactured. However, there are other manufacturers that make heavy-duty cast aluminum cookware. And from all accounts it’s pretty good.

      Great to hear you’re enjoying your vintage Magnalite.

  3. Hello!
    I have a pot (I’ve seen it listed as a bean pot or cauldron). It has the arched Wagner with the straight Sydney logo. Unfortunately the number is obscured. It doesn’t have legs, it does have a heat ring. It also has a side ring. The diameter of the top of the pot is 9.5 inches, the height is 6.6 inches. Any idea what size it is? I’d like to find a lid for it (I know, very difficult). But it would help in my search if I know what lid I need. Also what is it actually called? I’m guessing the side ring was for pulling off of the fire? Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Dody

      Thanks for your question.

      It sounds like you have an early Wagner kettle. Wagner manufactured a variety of kettles. But from your description, I believe you have either a flat bottom kettle or a flat bottom bulge pot, with a heat ring for use on a cast iron wood stove.

      And you’re right finding a lid could be challenging. I don’t have a kettle of your description in my collection. However, measuring my other pots, I think you need to keep an eye out for a size 8 lid. But if you find an early lid, please ask the seller if they think the lid will fit, as I’m not 100 percent sure on the size.

      Cheers and good luck on your search.

    • Hi Cindy

      Sound like you have a Wagner Ware ashtray. The Q on your small skillet was the mold used in manufacturing process. These letters are similar to how we use batch numbers or bar codes today.

      You have a neat piece of history from the later half the 20th-century.

      Thanks for your question

  4. Have you seen a skillet with “Wagner” Sydney O. With 7A stamped at bottom? I got this skillet from my Mom and she thinks that it was her Grandmothers. I was trying to date it but haven’t seen any others. It’s my special filet and ribeye pan. Thanks!

    • Hi Lenore

      It’s wonderful you’re researching your antique Wagner skillet. I bet it cooks up a storm, and makes some tasty ribeye.

      Check out the picture guide in the article to give you an estimate of the age of your pan. Wagner made many different sizes of the same pan. So to estimate the age of your skillet, you want to identify the logo and correspond it using online resources. Hopefully you’ll use my guide but there are some other site online that you can also use.

      Hope this helps and have fun using your vintage Wagner Sidney -O-.

  5. Hi, I have a Wagner Ware skillet that doesn’t appear here. My skillet has the same Stylized Wagner Ware Sidney O that the skillet you describe as “Circa 1920-1924 with heat ring and single digit size number.” Except it doesn’t appear to have a heat ring and the single digit size number is 8 and appears on the upside/visible side of the handle.

    My mother raised a family of 11 using this skillet. I inherited the skillet and have been using it regularly since 2010. Please let me know if I overlooked my skillet in your description or if you didn’t add it to the information here.

    Please let me know if you are able to provide the estimate cost of this skillet when it was purchased and it’s current value. I have 2 or 3 cast iron corn cake molds and a Dutch oven and will have to look for them to see if they were made by Wagner.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Rose

      It’s nice to hear from you and it sounds like you have a nice collection of vintage ironware.

      In this article, I focused on collectable ironware manufactured by the Wagner family in the Sidney foundry. And didn’t include Wager Ware cookware made after 1960. After the company was sold to new owners. Check your pan for Sidney -O- under the logo. I suspect it’s missing, and this indicates a later pan. From your description, I’d say your pan could be circa 1960s.

      If this is the case, it falls out of the highly collectable vintage ironware. But does mean it’s not any good? Definitely not, your mum has clearly shown the pan can cook up storm. One number 8 Wagner for 11 family members, I guess your mum had to do a lot of batch cooking.

      Have a look on eBay sold listings for an indication on value. That way you’ll be able to compare skillets in a similar condition as yours. But I hope you’re in a position to hold on your mums old pan. I’m sure it holds lot of fond memories.

      Have fun using your heirloom skillet.

    • Hi Thurston

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out the article.

      Something tells me you and wife have a sizable cast-iron collection, and it’s great you both share the love of cast-iron cooking.

      I think the warranty could be past the expiry date by 50 years. But I have a sneaking suspicion you’re just having bit of fun in the comment section, good for you.

      It’s a shame about the crack in the skillet. Hopefully the skillet only has a small hairline crack near the top of the pan, and it’s still watertight. So you can do a bit cooking without any risk of oil leaking.

      Happy cooking Thurston

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