One of the most sought-after pieces of antique cast-iron cookware is the Indian Head logo manufactured by Wapak Hollow Ware Company from the early 1900s to the mid-1920s. It’s a beautiful-looking logo, and I hope you consider yourself lucky if you are the current guardian of Wapak Indian Head skillet or another piece of Wapak cookware with the logo.
In this article, you can learn about Wapak Indian Head ironware. And identify genuine Wapak ironware from imitation pieces.
Table of contents
- Characteristics of Wapak ironware with the Indian logo
- Buying guide for cast iron enthusiasts
- Identifying genuine and imitation Wapak Indian Head Hollow Ware
- Final thoughts
Wapak Indian Head characteristics
If you have a piece of hollowware with the Wapak Indian head, you’ll probably notice the ironware is light and smooth with fewer flaws than Wapak’s other ironware. The foundry men undoubtedly took pride in making these pieces.
Fewer casting flaws
Wapak ironware often has characteristic casting flaws. And it’s not unusual to see regular skillets with indentations on the cooking surface. Or slight ripples on the base due to sand shifts during casting.
However, I’ve noticed Indian-head cast iron skillets tend to have fewer cast iron flaws than regular Wapaks. And it makes me wonder if the foundry took extra care and attention when producing hollowware with the famous logo. But keep in mind Indian branded hollowware, were still manufactured by the Wapaks Hollow Ware Company. So you can expect to find more faults in the casting compared to other manufacturers of the time.
Therefore if your Indian Head cookware has a few indentations or casting bubbles in the iron, you have a perfectly normal Wapak. These flaws tend to be on the base and sides of the cookware. And for many Wapak collectors these small imperfections adds to the charm of the brand.
I suspect the company sold their Indian branded ironware at a premium compared to cookware sporting other Wapak logos. And this is no different if you are purchasing a vintage Wapak today. Yes, these skillets and other Indian branded ironware is highly collectible, and commands a high price tag. But Wapak labeled these pieces High Grade for a good reason. Expect a lightweight pan with a very smooth cooking surface.
The Wapak line of Indian head branded ironware
Although coming across Wapak ironware with the Indian chief logo is relatively rare compared to other Wapak logos and manufacturers. The company produced several pieces of cookware using the Wapak the marking. Including on the following:
- Dutch Ovens
- Waffle Irons
What to look for when purchasing an antique Indian head skillet
If you want to purchase a Wapak skillet with an Indian logo, it will likely cost you more. Here are a few tips for the enthusiast not to overpay. And for sellers to become familiar with the condition of their pan.
The logo is the appeal of Wapak Indian skillets. Therefore the crispness and depth of the logo will affect the price. The main emphasis for collectors is on the facial detail and headdress. Then look at the wording High Grade, are the individual letters legible?
In most cases, the logo will not be in perfect condition. The lettering can be unreadable, and the detail in the Indian head severely worn. These skillets are still highly collectible, and please don’t pass on an Indian skillet if logo is not in perfect condition.
Wapak manufactured Indian skillet from sizes 2-14. Although, some of the sizes are more common than others. Vintage sizes 3, 8, and 9 are more common. While unusual sizes, such as 2 and 4, are more scarce. Also, large sizes command a healthy price tag. And are highly in demand from a wide range of people. They look great on display, and larger skillets make great bakeware.
Are you purchasing an Indian logo Wapak? Then check for movement on a flat surface. Unlike other markings on vintage cast iron, the Indian logo is raised rather than stamped into the iron. While the logo is undoubtedly appealing, the protruding logo could make a skillet sit unevenly. Therefore check the for rock or movement on a flat surface.
Is my Wapak fake?
If you think your Wapak skillet is fake, then I have to say it’s unlikely. And antique copies are more scarce than genuine Wapaks. These copies themselves are part of the fascinating history of collecting vintage ironware.
Why people mistakenly spot a fake
Mistaking a genuine Wapak from antique imitations comes down to the quality of the logo. However, if the logo lacks detail, this does not indicate a reproduced skillet. As mentioned earlier, the logo may have worn down over years of use. And I’ve seen genuine skillets with the Indian Head almost completely smudged out.
How to spot a copy
There are several known imitation skillets and waffle irons that are copies of the original hollowware. Luckily these imitations are likely vintage themselves, and were produced without laser cutting technology. An experienced collector can usually spot a fake by looking following details:
- Patchy or uneven casting
- Thinly embossed and or poorly designed logo
- Unusual handle design
Look for poor casting quality
Genuine Wapak ironware with the Indian logo will be light and smooth. However, modern cast iron and known reproductions are thicker and have a rougher cooking surface.
Lack of detail in the logo
As mentioned earlier, the detail in the Indian logo can wear down over time. But if you notice the design of the logo is considerably different from other Indian logos, you could have a fake. Here are three indicators of reproduction.
- High-Grade marking is illegible due to poor casting
- Facial expression lacks detail and has an elongated nose
- Headdress lacks detail
Another factor in spotting a fake copy of the Indian head skillet is the design of the handle. Genuine skillets have a rectangular-shaped handle rather than the rounded handle on regular skillets. Thankfully with this oversight, we can identify the most common reproduction fairly easily. Vintage Wapak copies may have the following:
- A standard style handle on skillets
- Extremely short handle on waffle irons
I hope with my writings that both buyers and sellers new to cast-iron are realistic in their expectations. These skillets are old, and the logo may be missing fine detail. But this does not detract from the collectability of the ironware. However, keep in mind it’s just a frying pan at the end of the day. And far cheaper skillets will cook just as well.
And I trust you can now correctly identify Wapak ironware with the Indian head from imitations. If your ironware is a vintage copy, it’s still part of cast iron history and will add interest to any collection. Understandably the value of the piece is limited, but I hope you get more from using vintage ironware and place the value of the cookware a distant second.
Can you help with a few pictures for identification
If you have a Wapak with an Indian Head, would you like to donate a few pictures of your ironware to the resource? Here’s my email address if you’re interested firstname.lastname@example.org The pictures can be of any piece of ironware with the Indian Head. Obviously these pieces cost a pretty penny, and are out of my budget. Any help would be most appreciated.