Learn About Your Iron
One of the things that is hard for me is when people write and ask me to identify their personal cast iron, or ask “what is this worth?” While I am really happy that folks are excited about their old cast iron treasures, I simply do not have the resources to respond to queries such as this. I know it is much easier for you to have a quick answer to a question, but it is not a service I provide. However, if you just do a little research on your own, you will find a wealth of information.
Often, you will see photos on the web of a particular cast iron piece on a forum or Facebook or reddit, and people will chime in to help identify it. This is one way for you to learn more about your piece. There are collectors out there who have very significant knowledge about vintage cast iron, and they frequently “specialize” or collect in a certain area or a certain manufacturer. I have found people on Facebook and the forums to be very generous with their assistance. Be sure that the person who is chiming in knows, however, as opposed to making guesses at identification.
As to value, that is entirely subjective. Just because you see an identical or similar piece offered for sale on a site, do not assume that the selling price is what your piece is worth. There are very many factors that go into valuation of a vintage piece – condition, cleanliness, scarcity, the seller, and so on. Also beware of folks “guessing” at condition or rarity. Often, you really need to see and handle a piece to make an educated estimate of the value. And then, of course, there is “full retail” value and “wholesale” value and everywhere in between. Many people are very interested in vintage cast iron cookware and want to learn more, but be aware that if you ask the value of a piece from 10 people, you’ll likely get 10 different opinions.
The Book of Griswold & Wagner, by Smith & Wafford. This book is commonly referred to in the cast iron community as the “Blue Book.” Rich with photographs. Primary emphasis on Griswold. Two primary sections about Griswold and Wagner cast iron pieces, and smaller sections on Favorite, Wapak, and Sidney Hollow Ware.
The Book of Wagner & Griswold, by Smith & Wafford. This book is commonly referred to in the cast iron community as the “Red Book.” Rich with photographs. Primary emphasis on Wagner. Two primary sections about Wagner and Griswold cast iron pieces, and smaller sections on vintage Martin, Lodge, Vollrath and Excelsior/G.F. Filley.
Griswold Muffin Pans, by Jon Haussler. Again, rich with photographs. Helps to identify gem and muffin pans made by Griswold, and provides a numerical value to the scarcity of the piece. Many of the Griswold gem and muffin pans were made in different variations; this book will help you to identify the particular variation and its scarcity.
It may be worthwhile for you to consider joining one of the two (or both) vintage and antique cast iron collector’s club if you are going to dive into the cast iron world. Both clubs have a small annual fee, but a wealth of information can be obtained via the club’s long-time collectors, annual conventions, chapter meets, quarterly newsletters, and websites/forums.
The Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association is the longest-running of the two groups. I am a dues-paying member. As of this writing, the group has 473 members – many who are decades-long collectors. GCICA has a website with a forum with much information about vintage cast iron collecting, as well as an active Facebook group. $25 annually for single membership; $30 for family. $11 for students. Join here.
Wagner & Griswold Society – WAGS is a “community of cast iron and aluminum cookware collectors.” There is a wealth of information about vintage and antique iron on the Wags site; some available to the public and other that is available only to dues-paying members. There is a forum with sections available for viewing by visitors. One forum section available to the public is entitled “How much is my item worth.” There are also articles available to the public which have been written by members on cast iron cleaning and seasoning methods. $5 “initiation” fee for first year, plus $25 for individual and $35 for household of two. Join here.
The Cast Iron Collector, “information for the vintage cookware enthusiast” is a free website with a ton of information on it to help people identify, restore, and use their vintage cookware. Has a very active forum, and photos by various manufacturers to help you to identify unmarked iron.
Reddit has a sub-forum on cast iron, which you can check out.
There is an abundance of groups devoted to vintage cast iron cookware in addition to the GCICA Facebook Page. If you are in learning about a particular manufacturer, you might try searching under that name; I bet you will find a Facebook page devoted to the topic. Here are a few Facebook sites about vintage cast iron that are very active and educational. A quick search will turn up many more.
So many publications have written about vintage and antique cast iron that it is impossible to list them. I can assure you that if you take a few moments to type your query into google, you will get a plethora of results. Do some research!
My Prior Blog Posts
While running the business, I wrote a number of blog posts about vintage and antique cast iron; some may be helpful to you. Click on any of the titles to be brought to the post.
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