Learn the history of Wapak Hollow Ware Co. and how to identify your cast iron
For those who collect vintage or antique cast iron, Wapak Hollow Ware Co, or more simply Wapak, is a familiar name and the cookware is highly prized among collectors. In this article you can learn the history of the company and how to date and identify different cast iron cookware made by Wapak using logos and markings.
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 and ornate logos, such as the Wapak Chicken Foot and the Indian Head logo. You’ll be able to recognize these logos after reading this article.
Here’s what you can expect
- 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
Table: History of 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
Start up costs
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
They also manufactured a large quantity of sad irons
The company made two lines of cookware under the following names: Wapak and Oneta
The company is best known for 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.
But sadly Wapak Hollow Ware did not restructure after filling from bankruptcy
What makes Wapak cast iron different?
If you are starting out collecting vintage cast iron you might want to consider collecting Wapak. Sure, you can collect the big players such as Griswold and Wagner but did you know Wapak also has a large group of loyal collectors?
Wapak manufactured a full line of cookware to collect and in my humble opinion the iron is full lot of character and personality. Luckily many Wapak cast iron currently available tends to be cheaper than some of the other manufacturers.
Here’s why Wapak great:
- the ironware might have a ghost mark
- Wapak ironware tends to have really smooth cooking surfaces
- Wapak cast-iron cookware is lighter than modern counterparts
- imperfections in the exterior which gives the cookware a real sense of personality
- some logos are very scarce and this makes collecting a lot of fun
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.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 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.
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: Circa 1903-1926
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: Circa 1903-1910
After the Indian Head, the next most sought after logo among enthusiasts is the Chicken Foot.
Wapak Arc logo: Circa 1903-1910
The logo has “Wapak” in block lettering which is in a slight arc.
Wapak Straight Block logo: Circa 1903-1910
The Logo is in straight block lettering. The placement of this logo can vary from near the top to the logo or in the center. The logo can also be slightly above or below center. See the examples below to identify your Wapak.
Wapak “Z” logo: Circa 1903-1926
Interesting logo with characteristic styling. The most notable feature is the Z appearance of the Logo.
Wapak Tapered logo: Circa 1912-1926
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.
Oneta logo: Circa 1912-1926
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.