Vintage cast iron. Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
Wapak cast iron
For those who collect vintage or antique cast iron, Wapak Hollow Ware Co, or more simply Wapak cast-iron is a familiar name. The cookware is highly prized among collectors. One reason for this might be the silky smooth cooking surface which many people prefer over modern made cast iron.
Wapak cast iron might be lesser known compared to the Wagner or Griswold brands but it is just as collectible. In fact, some Wapak pieces can command very high prices at auction. Especially for the rare or ornate logos, such as the Chicken Foot logo and the Indian Head logo. You’ll be able to recognize these logos after reading this article.
Here’s what you can expect
- Characteristics of Wapak cast iron.
- Learn the history of the Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
- See the logos Wapak used to help you identify and date your cookware.
- Considerations if you want to collect Wapak cast iron.
Characteristics of Wapak cast iron
Some Wapak cast iron may have ghost marks from other manufacturers. It is not uncommon to see Wagner and also the lead manufacturer during the time Griswold ghost marks on Wapak cast-iron cookware.
Rare logos and manufacturing flaws can make collecting and searching for rare pieces from Wapak a lot of fun.
Wapak Markings. Does your pan have a lighter embossed mark?
Can you see words slightly imprinted on your Wapak cookware? Yes, it’s 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 did Wapak cast iron 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 today’s business world. However, copying other companies ideas or design is sadly still evident today.
If Wapak Hollow Ware did copy a leading manufacturer at the time it’s surprising they didn’t try to cover up their efforts better. It may be the case that Erie skillets were so good that Wapak didn’t mind letting consumers know that they used Erie molds.
Wapak skillets with Erie markings are very collectable. These markings are called ghost marks and are highly sought after by collectors.
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 is heavy then a vintage/antique skillet could be right for you.
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’s not uncommon for Wapak skillets or kettles to have casting bubbles or the base of the cookware with a noticeable ripple of unevenly cast iron. For some, it’s an obvious flaw while for others it adds to the charm and characteristic of yesteryear pans.
History of Wapak Hollow Ware Co.
- There is little published on the Wapak Hollow Ware Co. However as the name may suggest, the foundry was located in Wapakoneta Ohio on Krein and Willipie streets.
- Wapak Hollow Ware Co established in 1903. and had multiple founders.
- The company had starting assets of approximately $20,000 of which most came from machinery and fixtures totaling $18,383.07 Dodds, D. Knipp, Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership (2010) Wapakoneta (Images of America) Arcadia Publishing page 58.
- They also manufactured a wide range of cast iron kitchenware which included: skillets, kettles, bean pots and stoves.
- However, like many foundries of the time, Wapak cast more than just kitchenware. Wapak made a lot of irons commonly known as “sad irons”.
- Wapak Hollow Ware Company continued to make cast-iron products until the closure due to bankruptcy in 1926.
- Two employees of the bankrupt Wapak may have started their own company called Ahrens and Arnold. But sadly Wapak Hollow Ware did not restructure after filling from bankruptcy.
Wapak Hollow Ware Co. logos and markings
Wapak cast iron has variety of different logos or markings which can indicate age and rarity. Currently, there are seven variations of the logo. Of the seven logos six use a Wapak logo. The seventh logo is Oneta. Oneta was at the time a lower grade or budget-friendly brand.
Wapak Indian head logo
The most collectable and valuable of antique is the “Indian medallion”, “Native American” or “Indian head” An amazing detailed logo. However, expect to pay a pretty penny if you come across one.
Wapak chicken foot logo
After the Indian Head, the next most sort after logo among enthusiasts is the Chicken Foot.
Wapak Arc logo
The logo has “Wapak” in block lettering which is in a slight arc.
Wapak Block logo
The Logo is in block lettering and straight and in the centre.
Wapak “Z” logo
Interesting logo with characteristic styling. The most notable feature is the Z appearance of the Logo.
Wapak Tapered logo
The logo is tapered inward. The Wapak wording is bigger at the start with W being notably in a larger font and tapering inward and finishing with K which is notably smaller than the first letter.
The word Oneta is straight in block writing.
Unknown marking: Can you help identify this skillet?
Collecting Wapak cast iron skillets and kettles
I have only one piece so I certainly can not call myself an authority on collecting Wapak cast iron. However, the skillet I own has an ultra smooth cooking surface which is just as smooth as my Griswold’s 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 of 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 the 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” and also “Erie” lightly embossed on the iron.
- Like much of vintage or antique cast iron it may be important to check or ask how stable the iron sits on a flat surface. Does it rock or spin? Not like, say cast iron, which when not sitting flat is unusable, far from it. However, it does 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? Surely Wapak was very 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. Wapak cast iron cookware may have more casting flaws, you might be able to pick up a Wapak for a better price than a Griswold or Wagner Ware. Keep an eye out for host marks and also those fancy “Indian heads pieces”. They sure are good looking pans.
Happy cast iron hunting.