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Griswold Skillet

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I would like to start by saying this is my first post on this forum. I have been a line cook for 2 years at a hotel and I have recently decided to move to Charleston, SC to attend culinary school there.
When my father and I were looking through some pots and pans he had found on a boat he bought we found a skillet with some strange markings on it. and had some numbers on the handle and the back of the skillet. We looked it up and found a little bit of information on google. We found out they were made between 1864-1956 and are collectors items. My skillet has the number 5 on it to indicate 5" and the markings Erie PA USA and below that the number 724. I have searched some antiques websites and found skillets of my side that have 724 but a letter after it, but the one I have dosent have any letters after it.
What I was wondering if anyone had heard of these skillets and if anyone knows why mine does not have a letter after the number. I plan to use it when I move out because it appears to not be worth an exessive amount of money. Any knowlege or expertise about these would be much appreciated, also if someone could point me towards a website that has any info that would be great too.
I figured it would be appropriate to post in this section because it is sorta chef related :chef:
Thanks
Jesse
post #2 of 10
I did a quick search on Griswold cast iron and there's zillions of hits.

collector clubs, etc. some pricey numbers - probably for the early stuff

this may help with the 'no letter' question:

Patterns, Molds, and Pattern Numbers/Letters

As far as collectors are concerned, nothing is special about the letters that sometimes are cast with the pattern number on Griswold pieces and a few other makes. Cast iron pieces are made in a sand MOLD and that mold is made by packing special casting sand around a PATTERN. Each piece of iron has to have its own mold as the mold is a one-time-use thing which is destroyed in order to remove the piece cast in it. In order to make enough molds a foundry might have to have several or more patterns for popular, high production pieces. In this case each pattern has a different letter (plus, usually, one with no letter) on it after the pattern number which would be the same number for like items. It really doesn't make any difference to collectors which pattern was used to make a piece because they were all the same (but sometimes with very minor differences) except for the letter. One of Griswold's most prolific pieces is the No.8 block TM smooth bottom skillet. For these Steve Stephens, a long time collector, has identified all letters of the alphabet (plus no letter), except for the letters I, O, U and Q and some of these could still turn up. Pieces that were produced in low quantities may have only one pattern to make all the molds that were required. The preceeding deals mostly with Griswold pieces but may apply to other makes as well. Wagner called their numbers "catalog numbers" but, basically, they are pretty much the same as Griswold's pattern numbers.
post #3 of 10
Do a search for Griswold and you can trace the various incarnations of their use of logos and code numbers.

Griswold is the darling of cast iron collectors, unfortunately, which makes them too expensive to use as cookware. But depending on the model you have, and the condition, you might have a windfall in store.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 10
I have several Griswold peices I use regularly. That is what makes it so wonderful it was made well to last a life time. I couldnt cook deer meat properly without it!
post #5 of 10
I have several Griswolds that have been in continuous use for a hundred plus years in my family. I'd never sell them. People who visit here just love my cast iron "collection". It's not a collection, they're my cook pans. Great find, take care of your Griswold and your great grandkids will be cooking in it.
post #6 of 10
I have a few Griswolds. Only certain styles and sizes are collectibles, but regardless they are the Rolls Royce of cast iron pots. Their surfaces are like glass and the weight is minimal compared to other cast iron. I used Wagner and Lodges before I got a few Griswolds and realized how shoddy the other brands really are. They were made in Eire PA until about the mid part of the last century (if my memory is correct) Treasure it and treat it well!
post #7 of 10
Actually, the later ones were made by Wagner, which had acquired Griswold when that company went under.

Quality costs, unfortunately, and folks weren't willing to pay the higher price for something as prosaic as a frypan. The irony, of course, is that now a Griswold costs an arm, a leg, and a second mortgage.

Personally, I wouldn't describe either Wagner or Lodge as shoddy. They offer standard, high quality castings, whereas Griswold, among other things, polished their products. That's one reason Griswold's remain shiney their entire lives.

However, the final finish has nothing to do with the quality of the castings. Compare the casting quality of Wagner or Lodge with some of the crap coming out of Asia, and you'll see what shoddy really is.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for the info guys. I serached them and learned a little more about these skillets and i'm excited to have found one. I wish the boat had come stocked with a whole set of griswold skillets insted of just one.:lol: I plan to use it in my new appartment in charleston after i clean and season it. I have searched methods of cleaning and heard that I should spray it with oven cleaner and leave it in a bag for a few days. I also heard with seasoning that i should pour fat in the skillet and cook it. If anyone has any methods or secrets to cleaning and seasoning the help would be greatly appreciated.
post #9 of 10
If you have a self cleaning oven, that's one of the easiest ways to clean it.

Or set it in a good fire and burn it out.

You'll probably find some rust after cleaning it no matter what. Depending on how much, some steel wool will clean it up. Some people go with a reverse electrolysis technique, but that's not practical for most people. If you know a hardcore cast iron nut they'll know how to put you in contact with someone who can do it. I had a big old cast iron bead blasted because it had enough rust to be a pain for manual cleaning. Took only a few minutes and $20.00. Came out quite nicely.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 10
Jesse-

Phil and I are big fans of bead blasting - it's a very common industrial technique, and very effective. BUT be sure its glass bead blasting. Don't under any circumstance have it sand blasted; sandblasting sand (also known as sharp sand) is a highly abrasive material which will scratch the bejeezus out of your pan, making it impossible to ever get it thoroughly clean again.

Glass-bead blasting, on the other hand, is done using tiny glass spheres which will strip off paint, rust, or other crud but will actually polish the metal surface beneath these contaminants. It's an amazing process and it will put your heirloom pan back in like-new condition. (But still needing seasoning.) :p

Just looked at my pan rack and... my Griswold 6" skillet is marked "3" on the handle and also on the bottom, which shows the model and mold number "709B" in addition to the standard Griswold and Erie PA markings.

If this is worth a fortune, please let me know. :bounce:

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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