The Cast Iron Collector - Information For The Cast Iron Cookware Enthusiast

Evolution of the Griswold Trademark

Matthew Griswold had been making cast iron hollow ware for the better part of two decades before first putting the Griswold name on a skillet. Having been in business with his cousins, the Selden brothers, since 1868, the name Griswold was originally seen in the mark "Selden & Griswold", on various pieces of hollowware. Griswold bought out his relatives' interest in 1884.

The name Griswold alone on a trademark would then first appear on a handful of pieces in the form of Griswold's first stylized logo, known as the "Griswold's Erie Diamond", and next when the sixth series "ERIE" skillets were changed to read "GRISWOLD'S ERIE", around 1906. This second trademark containing the Griswold name would be short lived, however, as traditional block lettering would begin to be replaced by stylized logos by many makers. The last surviving text-only trademark would continue to be seen on the Victor economy line of skillets, to which "THE GRISWOLD MFG. CO." had been added mid-way through their period of manufacture.

The first "Griswold" trademark to be used across virtually all production, and perhaps the most iconic, is known as the "slant logo". As with later Griswold trademarks, it consisted of a cross inside a double circle, with the name GRISWOLD spanning the horizontal arms of the cross. "Slant" because of the stylized italic lettering used for the name. While "trademark" is the more properly applicable term, "logo" is often used and should not be regarded as incorrect.

The slant logo was generally of the same diameter on most pieces, with exceptions made for pieces like lids, where a reduced size version was used. There exist a few pieces with what is sometimes for lack of a better term called a medium slant logo. Slightly smaller and proportionally different from the normal slant, it may have been the result of a prototype pattern being used for actual production. The slant logo was seen on both heat ringed and in rare cases smooth bottom skillets, as well as on pans marked "ERIE" and "ERIE, PA, U.S.A.", being referred to by collectors as "Slant Erie" and "Slant EPU", respectively. On the older, "ERIE" marked pieces, the trademark was typically not as heavily incised as on the later "ERIE, PA, U.S.A." pans.

Later, around 1920, the slant logo was updated, with the lettering being changed to a block style. The overall weight of the logo would become more bold as well. This logo would come to be known as the "large block logo" or "LBL", the "large" referring to the lettering and differentiating it from a later revision with smaller lettering. The addition of descriptive markings such as "CAST IRON SKILLET" and the appending of ", PA, U.S.A." to the "ERIE" made the LBL markings more complex than on any other Griswold skillet, and perhaps the most attractive to collectors.

The slant logo's use would continue for some time into the large block logo era, with old patterns seen modified to add the other inscriptions characteristic of the large block pieces. It would be some 10 years before the slant logo disappeared from production altogether.

Some minor variations in the large block logo are seen, most notably on the #4 and #5 smooth bottom skillets. On these, the lettering is proportionally not as tall as on most. The large block logo also is seen on both heat ring and smooth bottom skillets, but only with the "ERIE, PA, U.S.A." designation.

About 1939, the logo was reduced in size, likely the result of all but the largest skillet patterns being replaced outright, rather than just being modified, as was previously seen. This assumption is borne out by the lack of "ghost" markings being seen on most of these later pieces. Along with the logo shrinkage, the overall weight of the lettering, cross, and circles was reduced, and inscriptions like "CAST IRON SKILLET" were eliminated. The "ERIE, PA, U.S.A." was also shortened to "ERIE, PA.". As such, it would appear the markings were made plain enough to simply be stamped into blank working patterns. This trademark would be known to collectors years later as the "small block logo", abbreviated "SBL".

At some point, the slant logo made a brief appearance on a handful of smooth bottom skillet sizes. Exactly when and why is uncertain. Some date them the same as the similarly marked heat ring versions, while others place them much later, early in the small block era. The old catalogs don't seem to be of much help in clarifying this issue. Were both heat ring and smooth bottom versions offered simultaneously, or were the obsolete heat-ringed patterns perhaps dug out and modified into smooth-bottomed simply to provide enough working patterns to keep up with demand? In either case, the scarcity of these pieces makes them highly collectible.

Briefly, around 1955 according to dateable examples, it appears the logo was once again poised for revision. Only seen on a couple of pieces, this logo was essentially a smaller version of the "large block", but still larger than the "small block". This logo is known to collectors as the "medium block", or sometimes the "late large logo". It is theorized that this logo might have replaced the small block had Griswold not been bought out by the company which also owned Wagner.

Although normally incised, the trademark was in some instances seen as raised, these being confined mainly to the tops of some lids, implements like food choppers, and, as was normal for all but the earliest Griswold designs, their waffle irons. (Raised markings were typically not seen on surfaces subject to constant wear, and, if so, such practice was usually quickly abandoned.) When seen on an iron or aluminum lid, the trademark is referred to as the "button logo", and is in some cases seen with only a single circle.

A paradox exists between the logo as most commonly seen incribed on the cookware and that seen on Griswold printed publications such as catalogs, bulletins, and on letterhead. In print, the tips of the cross are closed by straight lines, whereas on the cast iron, it is the inside circle which forms the boundaries. Only on a few pieces, typically cast aluminum, does the logo have the additional line segments seen on the printed logo. Additionally, the print logo typically has the lettering in the early slant style.

The Griswold trademark would undergo more changes after the acquisition by Wagner. It would appear the company which owned Wagner was more interested in only using the Griswold name and not so much its classic designs. Griswold-marked pieces after the buy-out appear to be from modified Wagner patterns, with hastily-concocted versions of the Griswold trademark applied. Use of the Griswold trademark in any form would be discontinued after 1973.

Using this table, the approximate time period of manufacture of a Griswold trademarked skillet can be determined.

Griswold TMSelden & GriswoldDiamond LogoGriswold's ErieSlant LogoLarge BlockSmall BlockLate Large
Time Period1870-18901884-19091905-19061906-1929, 1939-19441920-19401939-19571955-1957
Heat RingN/A¹N/A¹YesYes, NoYes, NoNo²No
Heat Ring TypeN/AN/AInsetInset, NoneInset, NoneInset²N/A

¹Trademark apparently not used on skillets.
²Sizes 12 and above have (inset) heat rings.

Ferrous Fact
"Ferrous Fact"
The origins of Griswold Mfg. Co. were in 1868 in an Erie, PA building known as the Butt Factory, where Matthew Griswold and the Selden Bros. manufactured butt hinges and other hardware.