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Store Brands

In addition to trademarked, unmarked, and economy ware, several manufacturers produced store brands. Like unmarked ware, store brands allowed increased sales in channels like chain department stores, where a quality product was demanded at a reasonable price, but also one which still satisfied the retailer's target profit margin. Store branding also gave the retailer the ability to associate, in its customers' minds, quality goods with the seller itself. The most well-known store brands were produced for Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward. In much the same way the Sears Kenmore appliances are rebadged units from makers like Whirlpool, so too were housewares like Best Made, Merit, and Puritan.

Unlike the economy brands, where only a few pieces were made, store brands were more likely to be offered as a full line of products, including skillets, lids, griddles, dutch ovens, waffle irons, and muffin pans.

The following are the store brands most often seen in the vintage collectibles marketplace.

Best Made (Griswold Mfg. Co., Erie, PA)

Produced for Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1920s. The distinctive italic block font seen on other Griswolds is evident on Best Made pieces. The Best Made brand was used for Sears' top-level goods.

Good Health (Griswold Mfg. Co., Erie, PA)

Produced late 1920s-1930s. The distinctive Griswold font is evident on Good Health pieces, although with the atypical use of lower case letters.

Iron Mountain (Griswold Mfg. Co., Erie, PA)

Produced 1930s-1940s. Distinctive handle shape, and marked with the blocky italic Griswold font. While not sold exclusively through any one major retail chain, otherwise-unmarked Iron Mountain pieces were sold with adhesive paper labels affixed. Their cost, according to old price lists, was 20-30% below that of Griswold's Good Health line.

Long Life (Wagner Mfg. Co., Sidney, OH)

Produced 1930s. Distinctive handle shape, and marked with typical plain Wagner sans-serif font.

Maid Of Honor (Lodge Mfg. Co., South Pittsburg, TN)*

Produced briefly in the 1950s for Sears. Distinctive lid shape, and marked with unique stylized logo. *There is some controversy over whether some MOH was indeed made by Lodge. No characteristics of the pans incised with the distinctive MOH trademark/logo are akin to Lodge, with the exception of notches (four instead of the typical three) in the heat rings. There are, however, pieces seen that are definitely Lodge-made with paper labels designated Sears, Maid of Honor, which may account for the attribution of the controversial pieces to Lodge as well.

Merit (Griswold Mfg. Co., Erie, PA)

Produced 1920s-1930s for Sears. The blocky italic Griswold font is evident on Merit pieces, as is the distinctive handle shape shared with Griswold-made Puritan. The Merit brand was used for Sears' mid-level goods.

Puritan (Favorite Stove & Range Co., Piqua, OH)

Produced between 1916 and 1934 for Sears. Puritan pieces by Favorite appear to be the same in all respects other than the trademark as Favorite-marked ware.

Puritan (Griswold Mfg. Co., Erie, PA)

Produced 1920s to 1930s. The Puritan brand was also produced by Griswold for Sears. Other than the trademark, pieces are in most respects identical to Griswold-made Merit. Griswold Puritans are easily distinguished from the Favorite-made by the distinctive handle shape and the 4-digit pattern numbers. Some Griswold-made pieces, like waffle irons, did not have the typical Puritan stylized logo also used on the Favorite-made pieces.

Wardway/Ward's Cast Iron (Wagner Mfg. Co., Sidney, OH)

Produced 1930s and later for Montgomery Ward. Other than trademarks and catalog numbers, apparently identical to Wagner-marked pieces.

Store brand pieces enjoy collectible status and are typically among the best of user pieces. Under the right circumstances, they can also be had at reasonable cost, as many sellers put less of a premium on them than on the more well-known manufacturer-trademarked pieces.