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History and Stories

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

Home » Explore our Website » Grady Britt, Vintage Lodge Cast Iron Collector

Grady Britt, Vintage Lodge Cast Iron Collector

Southerner Grady Britt is a long-time vintage Lodge cast iron collector. While he also has pieces by many other manufacturers – notably Griswold – the focus of his study and collection is vintage and antique Lodge cast iron.

Grady and Jean Britt

Grady Britt, vintage Lodge Cast Iron Collector.
Grady Britt.

Linda and I had a lovely visit with Grady and Jean Britt, to see Grady’s vintage and antique Lodge cast iron collection.1

Grady and Jean live in a beautiful art-filled home in Raleigh, North Carolina, surrounded by woods and backing up to Umstead State Park. It is a very peaceful setting. Grady and Jean are both retired. Grady worked for years for IBM as a systems engineer, and Jean as a grade-school teacher. They each have two adult children, and between them, 9 grandchildren.

Painting on an old cabinet door by Grady’s son Chris. It depicts the gravesite of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York, which Chris had visited.
One of several original paintings by Mose Tolliver in Grady and Jean’s home. Grady and Jean have several pieces of folk and street art.

How Grady began collecting

Grady Britt, Lodge cast iron collector.
Grady talked to us as Linda took notes and I snapped photos.

Grady has been collecting vintage Lodge cast iron since 1993. A family member’s cast iron waffle iron had piqued his interest, and he began looking for a waffle iron for himself.

Grady found a book about old cast iron cookware, and located contact information for some of the people whose pieces were photographed in the book. Dr. Joe Noto of North Carolina was one of them.

Some of Grady Britt's vintage Griswold cast iron cookware, including the loaf pan, Quaker Ware, and heart star waffle iron.
Nook in Grady and Jean’s home with Griswold pieces including loaf pan, Quaker ware, griddles, and heart/star waffle irons. A favorite of Grady’s – the Griswold loaf pan – is shown between the two Quaker ware pieces hanging on the wall near the bottom of the photo. Original painting by Grady’s son (also shown left) above the iron.

At the time, “Dr. Joe” was the President of the Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association (“GCICA”), a national club for cast iron collectors.2 Grady called Dr. Joe. He learned that GCICA had an annual convention and that he had just missed one held in Charlotte, North Carolina. The next one was to be held in Erie, Pennsylvania, the original home of the Griswold Manufacturing Company.

Linda Lamb and Grady Britt, Lodge cast iron collector.
Grady Britt, Lodge cast iron collector.

Grady went to that convention in Erie, in 1997. He enjoyed meeting and learning from other collectors.

Since that convention, Grady has attended many of the annual conventions. He has gone to conventions organized by both national cast iron collecting groups – GCICA and the Wagner and Griswold Society (“WAGS”). 3

Grady and Vintage Lodge Cast Iron

Grady’s collection focuses on vintage Lodge cast iron because he “just love[s] their stuff.” He is a Southerner and he likes that Lodge is a Southern company. He also appreciates that Lodge is reasonably priced.

Joseph Lodge house in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
The home that Joseph Lodge built in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Beautiful old flagstone sidewalk alongside the Lodge home.

Grady had his first tour of the Lodge foundry in South Pittsburg, Tennessee in 2015. 4 He has also met two of Lodge founder Joseph Lodge’s great-grandchildren: Bob Kellerman, Lodge CEO Emeritus, and Carolyn King Kellermann Millhiser.5

Ms. Millhiser lives in the home that Joseph Lodge built at the corner of Magnolia and Third in South Pittsburg. Grady visited Ms. Millhiser there and viewed her collection.6

Small shelter behind the Joseph Lodge home. There are differing stories about the purpose of this structure. Some say it was a “cooking house.”

Grady’s Favorite Pieces of Vintage Cast Iron from his Collection

I asked Grady what his favorite piece was in his collection. He couldn’t narrow it down to just one. When I asked what his three favorites were, however, he said: Lodge acorn pan, Griswold loaf pan with lid, and toy Griswold waffle iron with base.

Vintage Lodge cast iron collector Grady Britt showing his vintage Lodge cast iron Acorn gem pan. Some call it the "penis" pan because of its appearance.
Grady showing us his Lodge acorn pan.
Collector Grady Britt's no. 0 Griswold vintage toy American cast iron waffle iron with low base.
Grady’s Griswold toy waffle iron with low bailed base.

Grady’s Blacklock Antique Cast Iron Pieces

The Blacklock Foundry was organized by Joseph Lodge in 1896. Unfortunately, the foundry burned down in 1910. Joseph Lodge rebuilt the foundry and renamed it to the Lodge Manufacturing Company. 7

Grady Britt's collection of antique vintage Lodge Blacklock cast iron sad irons.
Blacklock sad irons from Grady’s collection.

Identifying Blacklock pieces

Blacklock pieces can be tricky to identify. When the foundry was destroyed by fire, almost all of the foundry’s records were also lost.8 Unless an antique piece is specifically marked “Blacklock,” a person cannot state with iron-clad certainty that it was manufactured by Blacklock. On the various Facebook vintage cast iron pages, it is quite easy to start a firestorm by claiming that a particular unmarked piece was made by Blacklock. Unless a piece is marked “Blacklock,” the best one can say is that it “looks like,” “could be,” or “might be” a Blacklock.

Grady showed us a marked Blacklock teakettle cover from his collection that was pictured in the January/February 2018 edition of Southern Cast Iron magazine. Grady was interviewed by Southern Cast Iron as part of their story on the Blacklock Foundry: “A Tale of Fire and Family.”

Grady’s Teakettle – Blacklock?

Antique lodge cast iron Blacklock lid from the cast iron collection of Grady Britt.
One of Grady’s marked Blacklock lids.
Antique Lodge Blacklock cast iron teakettle lid cover with unmarked tea kettle that collector Grady Britt believes was made by Blacklovck.
Grady’s teakettle with one of his marked Blacklock lids.

Grady has two marked Blacklock teakettle covers. He placed one of them on an unmarked teakettle for us, and we could see that it fit perfectly. Because the teakettle was not marked “Blacklock” Grady could not say with certainty that the teakettle was made by Blacklock, but he is comfortable in his mind that it likely is, as it matches the style of the known Blacklock teakettle (from the Blacklock) and the cover fits the teakettle so well.

Grady’s Sweet Shed

Grady’s sweet shed.

Grady has a lovely shed in his backyard, which contains yet more of his collection. Grady said that Jean wouldn’t recognize the inside of the shed when she saw it, as Grady had been organizing it in preparation for our visit. That was true; Jean was surprised when she came out and saw the neatly-organized shed.

some of vintage and antique cast iron collector Grady Britt's Lodge cast iron collection includinng a wooden stand, sad irons, and tobacco cutters.
Note the tobacco cutters on the top shelf. Grady has a particular interest in tobacco cutters. Oddly enough, despite having taken over 500 photos during our visit, this is the only one I have that shows any of his tobacco cutters.
Hanging on the outside of Grady’s shed. Grady said this was his favorite skillet.
Pretty display in collector Grady Britt's shed showing unusual qnd hard to find vintage and antique cast iron cookware by Lodge and Griswold.

Grady’s Vintage Cast Iron Lodge Novelty Items

Antique vintage cast iron Lodge Boston Terrier door stop from the collection of Grady Britt.
Of all the pieces I saw at Grady’s home, this is the one I would have most liked to take home. I love this little dog. The second would have been his son’s Basquiat painting.

Grady enjoys talking about iron. After 5 hours of showing us his collection, he seemed disappointed as we readied to leave. I was trying to graciously sidle out the door (to eat lunch at a fun BBQ place that Grady and Jean recommended, where I had my first-ever hushpuppy) when Grady exclaimed, “OH!” He hurried into another room and retrieved three beautiful old unmarked cast iron dogs, which he believed were likely made by Lodge during the 30s when Lodge is said to have made novelty items to keep the foundry afloat.

Antique vintage cast iron Lodge Boston Terrier Wolf Hound and Scottie Dog ornamental door stops from the collection of Grady Britt.
L to R: Scottie Dog, Bulldog, and Wolf Hound cast iron figures. Lodge made ornamental castings such as these, as seen in a 1952 Lodge catalog.

Although Linda and I were exhausted, we had the impression that Grady could have continued for hours; showing us pieces, discussing their variations, and pointing out their unique characteristics. It was wonderful to spend time with Grady and Jean, learn the history of some of the pieces, and have the chance to see his vast collection.

Grady surely loves his iron.

A Snippet of the Vintage Cast Iron Collection of Grady Britt

Note: I have many photos of Grady’s extensive collection. I will continue to add to the gallery as I have time to watermark and re-format them.

(a version of this article was originally published in late 2019).

  1. Our visit was in 2019, which is when this article was originally published. It has taken time for me to re-create and re-format it to get it back online.
  2. Dr. Joe passed away on June 21, 2021.
  3. Grady is active in both groups. He gave a “table talk” about Lodge to the GCICA group and organized a WAGS convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2015.
  4. Grady has toured the Lodge foundry three times, even though the Lodge does not offer tours of their foundry to the public except during the annual national cornbread festival.
  5. I gave a talk about vintage Lodge cast iron collectors at the 2019 Lodge Cornbread Festival in S. Pittsburg – you can see it here.
  6. Linda and I also had the opportunity to view the home and collection in 2019; I wrote a blog post about it which will be forthcoming once I get a chance to get it re-formatted, too.
  7. See, e.g. Blacklock Foundry, A Tale of Fire and Family, Southern Cast Iron magazine (Jan/Feb 2018). See also Millhiser, From Hand Pour to Automation: a History of Lodge Manufacturing Company from 1896 to 1988 (c. 2010).
  8. I am aware of the existence of just two Blacklock catalogs, one from (I believe) 1898 and the second from 1902-03. The second is reprinted in Carolyn Millhiser’s book (available at the Lodge Factory Stores), “From Hand Pour to Automation: a History of Lodge Manufacturing Company from 1896 to 1988 (c. 2010). Depictions of the Blacklock pieces are in that catalog, giving a start to the identification of pieces as being made by Blacklock.