Wagner is my second favorite. A little thicker than Griswold and not quite as comfortable. But with a smooth surface and cooks great. Both of these manufacturers produced a lot of cast iron skillets between and , so you should be able to find them. On the bottom of the pan is where the logo is. Griswold and Wagner used different logos over the years. Here is an image guide for each, so that you know the approximate date of a skillet.
Each skillet will have a number on it. The oldest pans will have a heat ring or a rim that protrudes from the bottom of the skillet to provide a tighter fit to the stove. Each foundry used slightly different measurements for the size, but here is a general size guideline. Another skillet to look for is an unmarked no logo one that has three notches in the heat ring. These are old Lodge skillets. You will notice that they are a little thicker than the Griswold and Wagner. But they still have the super smooth cooking surface. Think cornbread or Chicago style deep dish pizza.
Twenty five dollars is a good price for a 5. Forty dollars or less is what I like to pay for a 8 skillet. Expect to pay as much as a hundred dollars on Ebay for a Remember these skillets will last forever if you take care of them. When you buy cast iron at an antique store or on Ebay, it will probably be cleaned already, and ready to cook on. But if you find a bargain at a garage sale, estate sale or other place, you will typically have to clean it yourself.
It sounds intimidating, and if you have seen some of the scary skillets that I have found at flea markets, you probably would not have bought them. But under the crud and rust, there is GOLD! Well not really gold. But a smooth cooking surface that will make you happy to cook on it every day. The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is with electrolysis. Vinegar gets rid of rust. Get a five gallon bucket and put fifty percent vinegar and fifty percent water in it.
Soak the complete skillet for an hour or two, depending on how much rust is on it. Vinegar is a strong acid and will eat away at the iron if you leave it in too long. Set a timer to remind you. Do not leave it in vinegar longer than necessary. Lye is how you clean all of the gunk off a skillet.
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Get another five gallon bucket and put twenty percent lye, and eighty percent water in it. Soak the complete skillet in there for one to two days.
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Lye is a extremely strong base. It will not hurt the iron at all. You can leave a skillet in for over a year I have and it will not harm the metal. But lye WILL severally damage your skin if you get it on you. Use rubber gloves and eye protection at all times when using lye. Be very careful not to splash. After using vinegar or lye, rinse off your skillet really well with water. Then take it to a sink and turn your water to as hot as you can stand it with your rubber gloves still on.
Rinse with the hot water, and apply a very gentle soap like Bar Keepers Friend. Then use a brass scrub brush brass is a much softer metal than iron and scrub off any residual gunk or rust from your skillet. Rinse well; iron is slightly porous and you want to make sure you get the cleaner out.
Then while it is still hot with the water, wipe dry and heat on a burner on your stove top to fully dry it.
Next, apply a high temperature oil like grape seed oil, peanut oil or just vegetable oil generously all over the cast iron skillet. Put the oiled into a pre-heated degree oven for fifteen minutes. Then you are done. You will have a nicely seasoned skillet that will cook like a modern non-stick skillet. A great benefit of using a cast iron skillet is that you are not limited to the stove top.
Since there are no plastic handles you can put it into the oven, also. This is my favorite way to cook steaks.
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My wife and I prefer a nice, thick, filet mignon cut. 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. 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. 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. Seen any of these? Iron Mountain skillets have a heat ring and 4-digit product numbers and the pan number in a slightly italicized font on the bottom. Some of the Victor pans have the Griswold name on them and some do not. The later Victor pans also carried the Griswold name. Victor cast iron skillet number 9 manufactured by the Griswold Mfg. If the pattern number is on the Puritan or Merit skillet it was manufactured by Griswold.
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If not, it was manufactured by Favorite. If a pan has one or more notches in the heat ring, it is likely a vintage Lodge. Unmarked pans with a heat raised letter on the underside, along with a raised number on the handle, may have been made in the late s — by Blacklock, the foundry that preceded the Lodge foundry. Vollrath Manufacturing Company, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Vollrath manufactured many items of kitchenware from the late s until today.
Some of the Vollrath cast iron skillets have the Vollrath name on them, and some do not. If you run across a pan with an underlined number imprinted sideways on the bottom center of the pan, you likely have a pan that was manufactured by Vollrath pan in thes and s. Vollrath cast iron skillet no. BSR manufactured many pieces of kitchenware. BSR manufactured non-enameled cast iron pans between about and Take a good look at the underside of the handle of your no-name skillet. Is there a ridge that goes all the way to the outer wall of the pan?
This is a telltale sign of all unmarked BSR pans. There are three primary BSR lines of cast iron skillets. All have the ridge on the underside of the handle that goes directly to the side wall. These skillets typically have only a number, often followed by a letter, incised in the bottom of the pan near the handle. The pour spouts on these skillets are smaller than seen on other skillets.
Beneath the number is the diameter of the pan in inches, i. They are marked the same as the s Century skillets, but the name of the piece — i. Wagner Manufacturing Company, Sidney, Ohio: Unmarked Wagner pans are commonly found. Often times unmarked Wagner pans are mistaken for BSR pans. One notable difference is that the ridge on the underside of the handle flattens out before it meets the side wall of the skillet.