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Griswold Cookware

Collectors and Collections,
History and Stories

Griswold, Lodge, Wagner, Favorite, Wapak, and More!

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Griswold Cast Iron Collector Dave Lange

Written by Mary, as told by Dave and Nancy Lange.

Note: I am grateful that I had the chance to visit with Dave and Nancy for this story at the March 2024 Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association’s annual convention in Erie, Pennsylvania. Dave passed away on June 28, 2024. Our hearts and prayers are with his loving wife, Nancy Lange.

Dave’s connection to vintage cast iron

Griswold cast iron collector Dave Lange has been buying, selling, and collecting vintage and antique cast iron for over 40 years.

Nancy and Dave Lange in 1993.
Nancy and Dave Lange at the 1993 G&CICA Convention in Erie, PA.

Dave and Nancy Lange live in Erie, Pennsylvania, home of the Griswold Manufacturing Company. Dave’s father, Leonard, and uncle, Aloysius, worked for Griswold—his dad in maintenance for about fifteen years and his uncle as a metal pattern maker for about ten years. 

Dave’s fascination with vintage cast iron cookware was sparked during his courtship with Nancy in the mid-1980s. Nancy prepared an exceptional breakfast for him in a number 10 Griswold large block logo cast iron skillet and credited the skillet for the delicious meal.

Thus began Dave’s quest to find a similar piece for himself.

Dave’s collection

Dave and Nancy Lange with some of Dave's collection of 92 vintage Griswold cast iron ashtrays.
Dave and Nancy Lange at the April 2024 Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware convention in Erie, Pennsylvania, with some of Dave’s Griswold ashtray collection.

Dave saw a market, and started selling vintage cast iron. He went about it methodically. He began by contacting the people listed in the forward of a book about vintage cast iron to see if those people had any iron for sale.1 

According to Dave, Chuck Wafford was one of the only people who returned his call. Dave began sourcing pieces at flea markets and auctions and selling them to Chuck, who then resold the goods to others.2

After a while, Dave cut out the middleman and started selling himself. Dave smiled, saying he “got a good education from Chuck, but [Chuck] didn’t pay enough.”

Blue enameled vintage Griswold cast iron ashtray with matchbook holder.
Dave’s dad’s ashtray that Dave found after his death.

Dave’s sales fed his collecting habit. He had thousands of pieces in his collection at its peak.

In addition to Griswold cookware, Dave is interested in figural cast iron, such as Hubley banks and door stops. His favorite piece is a marked Griswold size zero (toy) finger hinge waffle iron.

Over the years, Dave has sold off much of his collection bit by bit. His collection is now primarily miniatures and pups. 3

For the “show and tell” portion of the March 2024 G&CICA convention in Erie, Dave brought his collection of 92 different Griswold ashtrays. His favorite ashtray is the beautiful blue enameled one he found unused in his father’s bureau after his death some 55 years ago.

Dave’s involvement in G&CICA

Nancy and Dave Lange at the 2024 Griswold and Cast Iron Cookware Association convention in Erie, PA.
Nancy and Dave Lange at the 2024 Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware convention in Erie, PA.

Dave joined the Griswold and Cast Iron Cookware Association (G&CICA) a year or two after its inception in 1992. While he went to the first organizational meeting in April 1992 at the Asbury barn in Erie, he sat outside for an unknown reason instead of joining the meeting.

Once Dave joined the club, he emerged as a leader. He served on the board of directors and as Northeast chapter president. He and Nancy organized two national conventions in Erie and two regional meetings for the Northeast chapter. Dave also served as a link between the Hagen History Center in Erie and G&CICA. Dave and Nancy’s commitment to the association is evident in their near-perfect attendance at national conventions–only missing when Dave’s health didn’t permit travel. 

Nancy Lange receiving volunteer award from past G&CICA president Scott McCarter.
Nancy Lange receiving recognition for her volunteer work for GCICA.

Dave and Nancy always help at the local G&CICA conventions. In fact, at the 2024 convention in Erie, Nancy received a volunteer recognition award from past president Scott McCarter for her outstanding work with the club.

Dave’s favorite part of membership with G&CICA is the annual convention and the great people in the group. 

Soap or no soap? 

Nancy does the cooking and cleanup for the Lange household. When I asked if she cleaned her iron with soap, she made a face. 

No, Nancy does not use soap to wash cast iron cookware.

Nancy’s favorite cast iron pans for cooking

Nancy has two favorite cast iron cooking pans: a Griswold New England skillet griddle, ideal for preparing omelets, crepes, and pancakes, and a versatile Griswold square skillet. She loves using the square skillet both on the cooktop and in the oven, allowing her to cook a wide variety of dishes with ease.

A story from Dave

Some pieces that Griswold offered had a coating of colored porcelain enamel baked onto them. Griswold outsourced the enameling job to the Erie Enameling Company. 

Trade advertisement for Griswold enameled cookware.
Hardware Retailer, July 1929. Describes “Chinalike” enameled cast iron skillets, sold in “jade green, turquoise blue, canary yellow, or mandarin red.”

Dave said it was typical for someone in the know—such as an employee—to barter with an enamel company employee to get a piece in a particular color, i.e., “Here are two ashtrays—you can keep one if you enamel the other for me.” 

Erie Enameling Company ring showing available colors.
Vintage enamel color ring from the Erie Enameling Company of Erie, Pennsylvania. The tan sample at the forefront shows stippling. From the collection of Dave Lange. Photo by Linda Lamb.
Erie Times-News, 7.31.57.

Dave brought an Erie Enameling color ring to the 2024 Erie convention that showed the different colors of enamel the Erie Enameling Company made available, including stippling. 

The stippling process involves an already-enameled piece having many (typically black or white) spots of a different color sprayed onto the base color.

Dave explained that when a piece of iron was enameled, it was placed into a 4000° oven.  Because the temperature was so intense, Dave said it is common to find warping on enameled pieces.

Dave brought a particularly unusual ashtray to the 2024 convention. The ashtray’s outside enamel had actual fingerprints showing where someone had held it before the enamel was baked. Dave said that the people who did the enameling were concerned about the inside of the ashtrays—i.e., the parts that would be seen when the ashtray was placed on a table—and not the outside.

Vintage Griswold cast iron ashtray with sloppy red and white enameling. Shows fingerprints.
An enameled ashtray from the collection of Dave Lange with fingerprints shows where the ashtray was held as the enamel was sprayed.
Vintage Griswold cast iron ashtray with sloppy red and white enameling. Shows fingerprints.
Dave demonstrates how the ashtray was held during spraying of the enamel, resulting in the fingerprints.

Dave’s advice for new collectors

For those just embarking on their vintage cast iron journey, Dave offers valuable advice: prioritize quality over quantity. He never settled for a ‘placeholder’ in his collection, always waiting for the right high-quality piece to fill a gap. This patient and discerning approach, he believes, is the key to building a collection that stands the test of time.

  1. Harned, Griswold Cast Collectibles: History and Values (1985). The forward to the book contains a list of people the authors credited with assisting in writing the book.
  2. Mr. Wafford is known to many in the cast iron community. In addition to being co-author (with David Smith) of the “Blue” and “Red” Griswold and Wagner reference books, he bought and sold vintage cast iron cookware. Mr. Wafford passed away on December 5, 2015.
  3. Nancy told me the pups will go to their great-grandchildren.



    July 2, 2024 at 2:48 pm



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