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How Old Is My Wagner Cast Iron Skillet?
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I hear the question all the time: How old is my Wagner cast iron skillet? Is there a way to date my Wagner cast iron dutch oven? Or even my Griswold skillet?
It is not an easy answer and there are a few factors to consider. So, first off there is a line of demarcation for collectible cast iron cookware. Roughly after 1960, the cast iron cookware that was made in the US is not considered a “collectible” item. It just means it the collectors don’t hold those pieces of cookware as high as the other pre-1960 pieces. I would say the 1960s – early 1980s made cast iron cookware is still pretty darn good and probably some of those pieces are better than what you can get today. Read a little more about the history of Wagner Cast Iron and even Griswold Cast Iron…
In many cases, we cannot determine the exact date that a piece of cookware was made. Unfortunately. We can come pretty close to a range of dates once we understand a little bit about the manufacturing of the cookware. The iron foundries would have moulds for the various pieces of cookware and over time the moulds would need to be replaced. Or through expansion the foundries would get more moulds to increase production or to make another piece of cookware. Why is all this is important? Well, the logos and markings on the bottom and handles of cookware would change over time. In this way, we can assume within a range when a piece of cookware was actually made.
The two pieces to the right (which I found on ebay), are most likely from the period from 1925 – 1959. It’s a pretty big range, I know. And one of them, the #3 was apparently never used. When I got it, there was a little bit of rust present on the gray, unseasoned, raw cast iron. Amazing that it never had any food on it until I bought it. I simply washed it with some soap and hot water, soaked it in 50% vinegar & 50% water for 20 minutes. After that I seasoned it using the method outlined here.
One of the best ways to tell is by the font, location, and styling of the logo and trademarks on the bottom of the cookware. I highly recommend checking out castironcollector.com with some photos and relative dates. I used the photos there to review the font and location of the logo on the bottom of the skillet. You can see the script-style on the “W” where there is a small loop in the center. The logo and writing is in the center near the top, or opposite the handle. The “Wagner” has a bit of an arc to it, while “Ware” and “Sidney” are written straight with no arc. The guide at castironcollector.com has photos for a whole bunch of manufacturers: Favorite Stove & Range, Griswold Manufacturing, Lodge Manufacturing, Martin Stove & Range, Sidney Hollow Ware, Vollrath Manufacturing, Wapak Hollow Ware, and, of course, Wagner Cast Iron Manufacturing.