Sunday, December 28, 2008

Old Lodge Skillets

This is one of my favorite skillets that I use at least weekly. It is a favorite of mine because it is a number 9 and I'm a big fan of that size {approx 11 3/4"} plus it is very smooth and slick. According to "The Book of Wagner & Griswold" (aka the "Red" book), this skillet has characteristics of those made between 1910 and 1920, as well as those circa 1925 - 1930s. It may be a transition piece.

Old Lodge cast iron is very nice but it is difficult to date with total certainty because Lodge did not maintain records of each minor design change.
One easy way to identify unmarked or private label Lodge iron is from the break in the heat ring found at the 12 o'clock position. Another variation was three breaks in the heat ring found at 9, 12 and 3 o'clock. The handle is considered to be at 6 o'clock.

Another distinguishing characteristic of some of the old Lodge skillets was the raised number on the handle. You can see how smooth the interior is. Also notice that even the unmachined/unpolished portions of the piece are very smooth as a result of the fine grained iron used.

Joseph Lodge's first cast iron hollow ware foundry was named the Blacklock Foundry. After being destroyed by fire in 1910 Joseph rebuilt the foundry naming it the Lodge Manufacturing Company. Joseph lived until 1931 but even today members of the Lodge family continue to run the company. Lodge was overshadowed by its domestic competitors (namely Wagner and Griswold) until the 1960s. Today Lodge stands as the sole surviving U.S. maker of cast iron cookware.


kkryno said...

I love these photos. It makes me want to learn more about the intricacies of finding good, old cast iron.

I totally understand about what I love about cast iron; but the points to look for are a major plus!

I'll check back when I return from New Mexico.

Greg said...

Hey thanks & I hope you are loading up on chiles while you are in NM!

Chilebrown said...

I must have some import pan. It looks just like yours, but it has no markings except for an 8 where your 9 is. I have had it for 20 years. It never leaves the top of the stove. It this pan could talk, it could share hundreds of dishes.
Happy New Year!

Greg said...

I've never seen an import that had the numbers on the handle. If the number is raised it is probably a Lodge.

If the pouring spouts (or ears) are big like the ones pictured the skillet was probably made before the 1960s.

Chilebrown said...

The 8 is not raised. It is indented. No other markings at all. Flat bottom.
Hey, would you take a look at E-Bay item number
160307263139 . Tell me what you think, and how much I should bid on it?

Greg said...

That one is clearly from 1910-1920 as it does not have a break in the heat ring.

Two things concern me about it:

1) It has an orange tint to it which can mean somebody tossed it in a fire. That orange color can mean it will be kinda "scaley" and never really get slick.

2) It is oiled in the pictures. If I buy something on eBay I like to see photos of a dry piece. The oil can mask problems.

According to the "Red book" an excellent #9 of this age is worth approx. 30-35 dollars. I'd stay below that with this one.

If I bought it I'd fill the interior with Coka-Cola for a few hours to see if the orange tint was a stain or some oiled over rust.

Good luck in the iron hunting! Sometimes the nicest pieces look like nasty junk before you clean them up.

shannon panko said...

Hi, Thanks for the great article.
I recently bought a lovely cast iron frying pan. It has a raised number 8 on the handle. The seam of the handle is in a bit of a triangle shape vs. rectangular. It has a heat ring and two small pour spouts. There are no marks on the bottom. Can anyone help me identify it? Thanks and Happy New Year!