Learn the history of Wapak Hollow Ware Co. and how to identify your cast iron.
Wapak Hollow Ware Co is a familiar name for vintage cast iron collectors. And the scarce Indian Head and Chicken foot logos are especially sought-after. However, in this article, you can learn the history of Wapak and how to date and identify your Wapak cast iron cookware using logos and markings.
Wapak cast iron is not as well-known compared to the Wagner or Griswold brands. But the cookware is just as collectible and useable.
In fact, some Wapak pieces can command very high prices at auction, especially for the rare and ornate logos, such as the Indian Head logo. You’ll be able to recognize these logos after reading this article.
Here is what you can expect from this article.
- Learn the history of the Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
- Characteristics of Wapak cast iron.
- Learn the logos Wapak used in production to help identify and date your cookware.
- Considerations if you want to buy or collect Wapak cast iron.
History of the Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
The company was founded by a group of business entrepreneurs that were also active in running the company.
Milton Bennett (President), Marion Stephenson (Secretary),
Harry Bennett (Treasurer), Charles Stephenson, S.P. Hick.
Wapak Hollow Ware Co. manufactured cast iron products from
The foundry was located in Wapakoneta, Ohio. On Krein and
The company had starting assets of approximately $20,000. Of which most came from machinery and fixtures totaling $18,383.07
Source Dodds, D. Knipp, Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership (2010) Wapakoneta (Images of America) Arcadia Publishing page 58.
Wapak manufactured a wide range of cast iron kitchenware which included: skillets, kettles, bean pots, Dutch Ovens, Griddles, and waffle irons.
They also manufactured a large number of sad irons.
The company made two lines of cookware under the following names: Wapak and Oneta.
The company is best known for its products with the Indian Head logo.
Reason for closure
Wapak Hollow Ware Company continued to make cast-iron products until the closure due to bankruptcy in 1926.
Two employees of the bankrupt Wapak might have started their own foundry called Ahrens and Arnold.
Unfortunately, Wapak Hollow Ware did not restructure after filing for bankruptcy.
What makes Wapak cast iron different?
If you are starting out collecting vintage cast iron, you might want to consider Wapak ironware. Sure, you can collect cast iron from the big players such as Griswold and Wagner. But did you know Wapak also has a large group of loyal collectors?
Wapak manufactured a wide range of cookware. And in my humble opinion, it has a lot of character and personality. Luckily a lot of Wapak cast iron available tends to be cheaper than some of the other manufacturers.
Here is why you should purchase antique Wapak ironware.
- The ironware might have a ghost mark.
- Wapak ironware tends to have really smooth cooking surfaces
- Wapak cast-iron cookware is lighter than its modern counterparts
- Imperfections in the exterior give the cookware a real sense of personality.
- Some logos are very scarce, and this makes collecting a lot of fun.
Markings on Wapak cast iron.
Does your pan have a lighter embossed mark?
Can you see words slightly imprinted on your Wapak cookware? Yes, This is a flaw in the casting, but this flaw is highly prized by collectors. It is commonly referred to as a ghost mark. A ghost mark is another manufactures logo or wording on the base of the skillet or cookware. It is not uncommon to see Erie lightly embossed on Wapak skillets.
Why does some Wapak ironware have ghost marks?
- Wapak may have bought and used old molds from other foundries
- Wapak may have used other manufactures pans and used them as a template to make their own pans
A very questionable practice in the business world. However, copying ideas or designs is sadly still evident today.
If Wapak Hollow Ware did copy a leading manufacturer at the time, surprisingly, they did not try to cover up their efforts better. It may be the case that Erie skillets were so good that Wapak did not mind letting consumers know that they were using Erie designs.
Wapak skillets with Erie markings are very collectable. These markings are called ghost marks and are highly sought-after by collectors.Boonie Hicks
The cookware will be lighter and smoother than most cast iron made today.
Wapak cast iron, like other vintage iron cookware made during the time, tends to be lighter. This is due to the manufacturer making cookware thinner than it is today. If you think cast iron cookware is heavy, then a vintage/antique skillet could be what you need.
Although Wapak may not be a household name, they made fantastic glassy smooth cast-iron cookware.
Wapak cast iron may have imperfections, but that’s why it has character.
If you collect or search for Wapak cast iron, you may notice more casting flaws than other manufactures during the time. It is not uncommon for Wapak skillets or kettles to have casting bubbles on the base. Or a noticeable ripple due to sand shift during casting. For some, this is an obvious flaw. But for others, it adds to the charm and characteristics of yesteryear pans.
Wapak Hollow Ware Co. logos and markings.
Wapak cast iron has a variety of different logos or markings which can indicate age and rarity. Currently, there are seven variations of the logo. Of the seven markings, six use a Wapak logo. The seventh logo is Oneta. Oneta cookware during the time was a lower grade or budget-friendly brand.
Wapak Indian Head logo: Circa 1903-1926
The most collectible and valuable Wapak logo is the Indian medallion, Native American, or Indian Head. It is a highly detailed logo. However, expect to pay a pretty penny if you come across one. Because of the age of the ironware, it’s not uncommon for the logo to be worn down.
If you want to learn more about the Indian Head logo, click the link.
Wapak chicken foot logo: Circa 1903-1910
After the Indian Head, the next most sought-after logo among enthusiasts is the Chicken Foot. Note the splitting at the foot of the P.
Keep an eye out for this marking. It’s seldom seen on Wapak ironware, and it is probably the most scare of the Wapak logos.
Wapak Arc logo: Circa 1903-1910
The logo has Wapak in block lettering and is in a slight arc.
Wapak Straight Block logo: Circa 1903-1910
The logo is in straight block lettering. The placement of this can vary from near the top or to the center of the cookware. It can also be slightly above or below the center. See the examples below to identify your Wapak.
Wapak Z logo: Circa 1903-1926
This logo has characteristic styling. The most notable feature is the Z appearance.
Wapak Tapered logo: Circa 1912-1926
The logo is tapered inward. The Wapak wording is bigger at the start and the letter W being noticeably in a larger font. And the tapers inward, decreasing in size. The final letter K is notably smaller than the first letter.
Oneta Marking: Circa 1912-1926
The word Oneta is straight in block writing.
Collecting Wapak cast iron skillets and kettles
I have only one Wapak skillet, so I certainly can not call myself an authority on collecting Wapak cast iron. However, it has an ultra-smooth cooking surface which is just as smooth as my Griswold and Sidney Hollow Ware skillets. The Wapak skillet has the Z logo clearly stamped into the iron. It also has a heat ring around the outside.
Considerations when collecting Wapak cast-iron
- Wapak tends to have more cast or molding flaws which can add to the character. However, for many, it detracts from desirability.
- Wapak cast iron can have very smooth cooking surfaces.
- Ghost marks are common in Wapak Hollow Ware cast iron. Check the base for Wagner or Erie lightly embossed on the iron.
- Like much vintage or antique cast iron, it may be necessary to check or ask how stable the iron sits on a flat surface. Does it rock or spin? This will negatively affect the value of vintage cast iron.
Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
Although Wapak cast iron can be super smooth. Signs indicate Wapak foundry used Erie and Wagner cast iron templates or molds to make their cookware. Why did they use foundries molds or pans as a template? Wapak was skilled at making iron cookware because they had one of the most detailed logos on vintage cast iron, the Indian Head.
Wapak skillets can be just as finely made as to the more well-known Wagner or Griswold cookware.
Vintage Wapak cast iron goes under the radar like Favorite Piqua Ware and Sidney Hollow Ware. But Wapak cast iron cookware tends to have more casting flaws. So you might be able to pick up a skillet for a better price than a Griswold or Wagner Ware.
And keep an eye out for host marks and also those fancy Indian heads pieces. They sure are good-looking pans.
Happy cast iron hunting.