Simple Guide to your Wapak Indian Head Ironware

Fake Wapak skillet

One of the most sought-after pieces of antique cast-iron cookware is the Indian Head logo. And they were manufactured by the 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 a Wapak Indian Head skillet or another piece of Wapak cookware.

In this article, you can learn about Wapak Indian Head ironware. And identify genuine Wapak ironware from imitation pieces. 

Table of contents

  1. Characteristics of Wapak ironware with the Indian logo
  2. Buying guide for cast iron enthusiasts 
  3. Identifying genuine and imitation Wapak Indian Head Hollow Ware
  4. Final thoughts
Guide to Wapak cast iron with Indian logo
Learn about ironware with the famous Indian Head logo. Manufactured by the Wapak Company

Wapak Indian Head characteristics 

Do you have a piece of hollowware with the Wapak Indian Head? You will probably notice the ironware is light and smooth and has fewer flaws than Wapak’s other ironware. The foundry workers 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 imperfections add to the charm of the brand.

High Grade

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 are highly collectible and command 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 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 Indian Chief marking. Including the following:

  • Dutch Ovens
  • Skillets
  • Waffle Irons
  • Griddles

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.

  1. Logo 
  2. Size 
  3. Wobble 

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 logo can be severely worn down. But these skillets are still highly collectible. And please don’t pass on an Indian skillet if the logo is not in perfect condition. 

Size

Wapak manufactured Indian skillets 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.

Wobble 

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 pressed into the ironware. While the logo is undoubtedly appealing, the protruding logo could make a skillet sit unevenly. Therefore check the ironware for rock or movement on a flat surface. 

Wapak Indian logo identification
Two skillets in beautifully restored condition. Your skillet may show more wear and tear. But you can use the pictures to evaluate the overall condition of your pan.

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 do 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 marking almost completely smudged out. 

Genuine Wapak Logos
All four logos are from genuine Wapak skillets. And slight logo variation is usually due to casting shift. Detailing on the logo may wear down over time due to use.

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 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.

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.

  1. High-Grade marking is illegible due to poor casting
  2. Facial expression lacks detail and has an elongated nose
  3. Headdress lacks detail

Handle design

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. Vintage Wapak copies may have the following:

  1. A standard style handle on skillets
  2. Extremely short handle on waffle irons
How to identify a imitation Wapak
Thanks to a very kind reader for donating their picture. We can identify a vintage imitation Wapak Indian Head skillet. She may be a copy, but I would love to have one in my collection.

Conclusion

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. Luckily this does not detract from the collectability. However, keep in mind, it is 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 logo 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 monetary value 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 booniehicks@gmail.com 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.

Cheers guys

  1. http://www.griswoldandwagner.com/information/Repros/wapak4.html
  2. http://www.griswoldandwagner.com/information/Repros/wapakfake.html
  3. https://www.castironcollector.com/fakes.php

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