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In this issue:
Free subscriptions.......................p.2
Griswold Skillet Chart..................p.3
Wagner muffin pans......................p.4
Restoring iron cookware, part 1....p.5
Vol. 1 No. 1January 1988

From the Editor...

I have been thinking about doing a newsletter for the antique cast iron cookware collector for some time. Finally, here it is. Cast Iron Cookware News will have articles and information on all types and makes of cast iron cookware made during the 1850-1950 period. From photographs of rare pieces to histories of the companies that made the ware. From old recipes to help you know how to use your iron cookware to re-prints of original catalog material, advertisements, and patent information. From the plainest skillet to the fancy muffin pans. It will all be here in Cast Iron Cookware News plus free subscriber ads and a letters column to answer your questions or express your opinions.

- Steve Stephens

Trademark appearing on Wapak skillets, waffle irons, dutch ovens and possibly other pieces from an unidentified period. The round trademark measures exactly 2⅛" in diameter. Very little information has surfaced on The Wapak Hollow Ware Co. located in Wapakoneta, Ohio. They also made a line of skillets marked ONETA. Maybe some reader will be able to supply more information on this company. Photo is from No3 skillet in editors collection.

W.C.Davis & Co., located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was a very early manufacturer of cast iron cookware. Also made in an identically styled 13-cup version and a 7-cup version which has a handle on one side similar to a skillet handle. No other styles of Davis muffin pans have been seen by your editor although he has an early Davis skillet which has an uncommon style. Believed to be a predesessor to The Favorite Stove & Range Co. located in Piqua, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Merl Hostetter.



Beginning with the next issue there will be a letters column. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions please send them in before February 20 for the next issue.

For proof that any of the following pieces of cast iron coookware were made you will receive a free one year subscription to Cast Iron Cookware News or, for current subscribers, a one year extension.
1. Griswold No1 skillet that is sized between a No0 and a No2 skillet. This is not the Nol Griswold skillet with pattern no. 411.
2. Griswold or Erie skillets No15-19 or larger than No.20.
3. Erie skillets No4.
4. Griswold Oval Skillet other than No13 or Nol5.
5. Griswold Maslin Kettle which includes the marking on the bottom ERIE PA., U.S.A.
6. Griswold No2 or No7 muffin pan that is marked Griswold, Erie, or has the Griswold trademark.
7. Griswold or Erie muffin pans No.4,25,29 or 30. May be unmarked but must have been made by Griswold.
8. Griswold No.271 or 281 corn stick pans.
9. G.F.Filley muffin pans No9 or higher than No12.
10. Wapak Indian skillet with the Indian trademark larger than 3" diameter.

For this offer to be good you must submit to the Editor all of the below if possible:
1. Positive and verifiable proof in the form of photographs, copies of original ads or catalogs, etc., that the piece was made.
2. Pencil rubbings that clearly show all markings including pattern number, maker, patent dates, if applicable, and that show the piece's shape or outline and size, 3. Your source and/or reference(s).

CAST IRON COOKWARE NEWS is published bimonthly by Steve Stephens. Copyright 1988 by Steve Stephens. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
Subscriptions are $15 and begin with the January issue and end Dec. 31st. Regardless of when you subscribe you will receive any back issues for the year. Send subscriptions and all material to: Steve Stephens, 28 Angela Ave., San Anselmo CA 94960

GRISWOLD SKILLET CHART compiled by Steve Stephens

Probably more iron cookware collectors have begun their collecting with a set of Griswold skillets than any other piece or make of iron. That was the beginning of my collection; a matching set of skillets and a dutch oven to cook in. At the start I had no idea where it would lead me to. Almost immediately I became aware that putting together a matched set would involve collecting several different sets, i.e. sets of the different size trademarks and their variations. As a beginner I had no way to know which set I would eventually be able to complete. This table will give the beginner and advanced collector alike an idea of what sizes were made in each variation.

Checks in the table indicate that the skillet was made in that variation. I have verified these skillets by actually seeing them but would like to know of any possible mistakes I might have made. Where there is a question mark in the table it is likely, but not definite, that the skillet was made. In time I would like to verify the existence of these pans. There are question marks in the small TM skillet group not so much because they are hard to find, but because I have not paid much attention to them. ERIE skillets were definitely made in sizes 5-12 but I cannot be certain that all sizes were made in both the early and late styles, the late skillet having the rounded bottom edge. The easiest set to complete and the one most collectors try for is the large TM with the smooth bottom.


1. ERIE 'early' verified in sizes 6,8,9,10,11; ERIE 'late' verified in sizes 7,8,11
2. All skillets I have seen larger than size 10 have had a heat ring.
3. Griswold catalog No.55, Bulletin E-10 (Aug. 1926) shows that wood handle skillets in sizes 2-12 were made. I have not seen them all but can verify sizes 2,4,6,7,8,10.
4. The "late, large TM" in table was used on quite a few pieces at the end of production in Erie, PA. It is the trademark that appears on the Erie-made square skillet with the handle on the side. Many pieces using this TM were porcelainized.
5. The skillets shown in the above table are all black iron and were produced in Erie, Many of these skillets were available in nickel, chrome, or porcelainized finishes.
6. VICTOR skillets were made as early as the ERIE skillets but probably only in sizes 7-9. Size 6 was added sometime in the 1920's and size 5 around 1930.
7. No.1 skillet is virtually the same size as No.0 skillet and is possibly an earlier version of the No.0 skillet which was sold as a toy.

4 Gem Pans of The Wagner Manufacturing Company. Sidney, Ohio.

Taken from Catalogue Number Thirty, Copyright 1924. The Wagner Mfg. Co. This is not the complete selection of Wagner muffin pans. More will be pictured In the next issue of this newsletter. Some of these pans, notably styles F,Q,R and S were made later without the cutouts. Very early Wagner pans were marked only with the style letter.The Wagner Ware name or trademark was added later while many of the latest pans had only the Wagner Ware TM and the Catalogue Number on the back of the pan. Styles EE, Q, R, and S are often seen nickel plated. Castings were mostly of very high guality but there are variations among pans. Note the lid lifter handles on the Q-R-S pans.


How often do you find that piece you have been lookinq for for so long and it is in beautiful, clean, and ready to use condition? Not very often. So how do you go about restoring iron cookware to its original condition?

Assuming that you have a piece that is worthy of restoring, i.e. it is not badly cracked, or severely pitted from rust, here is one way to go about it. Every collector and dealer has his own way of restoring cast iron so you might want to try other ways you have heard about than what is outlined here.

The first thing you wvll want to do is to remove all the grease and carbon that has built up over many years of use and abuse. Note: You may not want to remove the old grease and carbon if you consider it as a patina which enhances the old appearance of the piece. It may even have a clean coating on it from having been well used and cared for. You can leave this alone and go no further with the restoration of the piece or proceed with the following.

Lye, in the form of crystals available from many supermarkets or chemical supply houses, will remove grease from cast iron cookware without being harmful to your health should you want to cook in the pan after it is restored, Easy-Off or other brands of lye- based oven cleaners will also work well. Lye will not eat away at the cast iron even if the piece is left soaking in it for many months, but it will eat away at your skin. CAUTION: Lye is very caustic and can cause severe burns to the skin. Avoid contact; wear rubber gloves, eye protection and use whatever other precautions you deem neces¬ sary. When handled properly and carefully lye is not going to harm you or your pan.

Mix the lye solution in a metal or plastic container. A good quality plastic garbage can with lid works well but do not fill it over half full with water so as to be sure it does not split apart. The stronger the solution the faster the cleaning action. Also, the hotter the lye bath, the faster the cleaning action. If you have a "hot tank" you can clean lots of cast iron in a short time. DO NOT use a hot solution in a plastic container which would soften and weaken it possibly causing it to split. 125-175 degrees works well in a hot tank. Most people will use the safer cold bath.

Mix up your lye solution using about two pounds of lye crystals in 5-10 gallons of water. Pour the lye into the water, not the opposite. A large container is nice because you can fit almost any size piece you are likely to encounter. Carefully place the pieces you want to clean into the lye bath being careful not to splash the lye on you or surrounding surfaces. The length of time the piece must stay in the lye will vary from several hours to several weeks depending on the amount of crud on the pan, the temperature of the lye, and how hard the grease is baked on. When baked on hard over years of use the grease will turn to almost pure carbon and the lye bath, unless fairly hot, will have little effect on removing the carbon. Some hand scraping with a screwdriver, chisel or other scraping tool will help in carbon removal. There are a few other ways to remove the carbon that I will cover below.

When removing the piece from the lye you can use rubber gloves or fish for the piece using a hook fashioned from a coathanger. Rinse the piece off under running water using a stiff brush to help in removing the softened grease, A mechanics parts washing brush from auto supply stores works well, is inexpensive and lasts a long time. If you rinse under hot water the piece will air-dry. If not, you might want to dry the piece to preclude further rusting.

Another grease removal method is to burn the piece in a fire. Get it evenly cherry red but no hotter. If allowed to get bright orange an oxide scale will form on the piece which is very hard to remove. The piece can also warp or crack from excessive heat. It is best to leave this method for pieces with little value.

A self-cleaning oven works wonders on removing the baked on grease- Put the piece in the oven next time you clean the oven. You may have to increase the cleaning time by a half hour or so, but the piece should come out with only a light coating of ash which can easily be rinsed away in water. Caution: A lot of acrid smoke can be given off by this process. Keep an eye on the process and vent the room if necessary. Cast aluminum cookware can be degreased by this method also. Remove any wood or plastic handles or parts before cleaning in oven. Do not put aluminum,or wood handles,in the lye bath as both will be ruined.

Content ©Steve Stephens 1988. Web version all rights reserved, www.castironcollector.com 2013.