Having an antique cast iron skillet identification guide can make any kitchenware collector's auction hunting easier. Considering that these heavy kitchen tools were often passed down from generation to generation, it's common to find professional and domestic chefs who unwittingly use these pieces of antique kitchenware in their everyday life. Thus, it can be incredibly useful to know which of these skillets you might want to keep and which you might want to sell.
Antique Cast Iron Skillet Identification Guide
Given their durability and nonstick coating, cast iron skillets were an absolute necessity for any 19th century kitchen. These culinary aids get their iconic shape from being cast out of iron ore into one solid piece of cookware. In doing this, manufacturers were able to create incredibly sturdy, long-lasting pans, skillets, dutch ovens, bread pans, and so on.
Different Antique Cast Iron Skillet Manufacturers
There were a significant number of antique cast iron skillet manufacturers, and most of the notable manufacturers made their cast iron skillets identifiable by setting their logos/maker's marks into the backs of their pans. However, not every antique cast iron skillet was marked, meaning your unmarked cast iron skillet might actually be much older than you think. The most desired antique cast iron skillets come from the Griswold company, but skillets from these other top manufacturers will perform just as admirably in the kitchen.
- Selden & Griswold (later just Griswold) - 1873-1957
- Favorite Stove and Range Co. - 1889-1935
- Lodge Manufacturing Co. - 1896-present
- Wagner Manufacturing Co. - 1891-1952
- Vollrath Manufacturing Co. - 1884-1960s
- Atlanta Stove Works - 1898-1957
- Wapak Hollow Ware Co. - 1903-1926
Quality and Conditions of Antique Cast Iron Skillets
Since antique cast iron skillets were intentionally made to be long-lasting, it can be difficult to determine an individual skillet's age based on looks alone. This is why checking for both the presence of the aforementioned maker's marks, as well as any other obvious signs of aging, can be a vital step in helping you better identify your antique cast iron skillet.
Whether you already have an antique cast iron skillet or you're looking to add one to your collection, it's incredibly important to look for areas of brownish/reddish coloring across a skillet's base and interior. Without proper care, these antique skillets can rust to varying degrees and they might even bear metal pit marks caused by the acid erosion of coal fires. Due to this, maker's marks might be covered in rust and difficult to find. Although this rust is rather hard to remove, there are at-home remedies you can do to try and mitigate it's effects which will help you better identify the antique cast iron skillet in your care.
Another common aspect of aging that affects an antique cast iron skillet's condition is warping. Most often, warping occurs in the middle of cooking when there's either been an uneven amount of heat applied to the bottom of the skillet or heated ingredients, like animal fats, settle to one edge of the pain and increase the heat in that specific area. Unfortunately, this does make it more difficult to use these antique cast iron skillets on modern, flat-top stoves, but it's not impossible. Therefore, while you're making your way through the antique stores in your area looking for a cast iron skillet, be sure to test how horizontally level each one is to ensure that you get the highest quality antique available.
Antique Cast Iron Skillet Values
On top of being essential for creating mouthwatering southern cuisine, some antique cast iron skillets can be worth a significant amount of money. Of course, the type of manufacturer and the condition of antique cast iron skillets can influence their resell values, but their modern uses make them continually popular items for both antique stores and garage sales.
Antique Cast Iron Skillets at Market
Recently, a Lodge No. 3 skillet was listed at auction for $128. In the same auction, a Griswold No. 8 Skillet from the 1930s was listed for $498. When looking for more in-depth information on your specific run of an antique cast iron skillet to sate your personal curiosity or to better prepare yourself for a potential sale, you can visit The Cast Iron Collector or Boonie Hicks, both of which are vast repositories of historic information pertaining to antique cast iron skillet identification.
Beware of Reproductions and Recasts
As with any popular kitchenware, there is a serious market for fake antique cast iron skillets and some seemingly 'genuine' cast iron skillets might very well be high-quality reproductions or recasts. Reproductions are known for being less refined and heavier than real antique cast iron skillets, while recasts are often smaller than original skillets having been modeled after the already cast measurements of antique examples. While these skillets do perform well in the kitchen, they don't have any substantial resell value.
Cooking With Your Antique Cast Iron Skillets
Yet, most antique cast iron skillet owners will confess that the idea of selling the beloved pans that they take such incredible care of has never crossed their minds. Since this cookware's baked-in seasoning only increases with age, finding a genuine antique cast iron skillet can make or break the flavor profile of a meal. So, if you stumble across a Griswold skillet at your next garage sale, be sure to pick it up before any other food-loving collectors have the chance to.