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Nov 13, 2009 07:45 AM

How old is my cast iron Dutch oven?

I bought it around 40 yrs ago at a flea market - obviously used. The interior was well-seasoned but there was a little rust on the exterior. It's 4 qts, with a loop handle like a bucket, and a little ear on the middle of the rim on one side, to hold onto while pouring out the contents. The inside of the lid has 2 concentric circles of nubbins for directing the dripping of the condensation. The only thing on the exterior bottom is an 8, stamped into it near the edge. Can any of the cookware mavens on CH tell me its age or maker?

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  1. I don't know, but I think it may help others if you can upload a photo of it. Best luck.

    1. I'm guessing it's an old Lodge...but Chemicalkinetics does have a point. A photo would surely help.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        I don't have a digital camera but it looks very much like this larger 7 qt one. Mine is 4 qts and the lid is evenly-rounded, not flattened as on the 7qt.

        1. re: greygarious

          At first glance, this looks like a Lodge, but I am no cast iron Dutch Oven expert, so I will let others give you better estimate.

      2. Does it have a ring on the bottom? Is the ring "broken" in places? I have two very good reference books (both by David Smith, the "pan man") and will try to id it for you if you tell me *exactly* what the bottom of the oven looks like, and go into more detail with the handle on the lid, and the basting rings on the interior. Are the circles (basting rings) broken, too? Are they wide "nubbins" (more like lines) or are they simply dots? It does sound like Lodge....but Lodges are very complicated to ID as to exact age, as they just fiddled around with their design nearly forever...

        15 Replies
        1. re: Beckyleach

          There is nothing on the bottom other than the number 8 that I mentioned. Both inside and outside bottom are totally flat. The two concentric basting rings have a scalloped look, as if you piped a ring of metal, then indented it with a round dowel every 3/8 inch or so. On the inside of the lid, in the center, it is stamped with an X and next to that an 8 (although this is a 4qt pot, not an 8). ( It is my magic cauldron - so well seasoned with onion, bay and clove after decades of pot roast and goulash that it always turns out the most delectable braised meats.) Thank you for your help!

          1. re: greygarious

            I don't think it's Lodge, then (unless it's a "marriage" between a Lodge bottom and someone else's top) as the Lodge lids almost always have "dots" for the basting effect, instead of rings. Does it look like this?

            There ARE unmarked Wagner's out there--just with a number and their distinctive, scalloped basting rings. Once we figure out if it is a Wagner, I can go look in my books and see if I can get an idea on the age. Wagners date from the 1890's on till they went out of business in the 1990's.

            1. re: Beckyleach

              Becky, thanks for taking the trouble to link to that lid - no, mine is not the same. On mine, it looks like a plain circular ring with scallops pressed into it from above. Imagine a rope of play-doh, then pressing a fingertip into it and repeating all the way round.

              1. re: greygarious

                Okay, I'm at a loss. I can envision what you're saying, I've seen that design, but I just can't PULL it out of my brain! I suggest you take your description over to my pals at the Wagner and Griswold Forums. They know EVERYTHING and will be happy to ID it for you....I'm thinking Crescent Foundry (St. Louis; went out of business around the turn-of-the-century) but I'm still learning and make mistakes. :-)

                Just copy your posts describing the dutch oven here:


              2. re: Beckyleach


                You are mostly correct. Most lodge lids have drip needles on the lid, but some has the ridges, like this one. I am uploading the picture of a Lodge Pro-Logic lid here

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Right, but since this dutch oven was purchased 40 years ago, I didn't consider the modern Lodge models....

                  1. re: Beckyleach

                    You are correct. I probably just wanted to upload that picture under the smallest excuse.

              3. re: greygarious

                The "8" is the lid size; it would fit a number 8 skillet, too. The numbers indicate the diameter, and were standardized across manufacturers, but they don't seem to bear a direct relationship to diameter measurements in inches. (Can anyone enlighten me? Do the David Smith books explain the numbering system?) It may be difficult to identify the manufacturer of your piece, as there were many. I'm old enough--and it sounds as if you are, too--to remember when you could still walk into almost any little hardware store and buy a perfectly good unbranded American-made cast-iron skillet for a few dollars. It was a standard household item ... until suddenly, it wasn't, any more.

                1. re: Miss Priss

                  I;m 60 - once I was living on my own I knew I needed cast iron if I wanted to cook like Mom. She never measured things so she'd get annoyed if I asked her how much of this or that she used for a specific dish. But she did impress on me the importance of well-seasoned cast iron, so I went the flea market route (not to mention that it was economical that way). The first time I ever saw new ones in a store they were Lodge, and until a few years ago I didn't realize there were other makers. Looking at my 10" covered skillet, I see that the bottom says favorite xxxxx ware - can't read that middle line. My smaller skillet says 8 inch, made in USA.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Could the name on your 10" skillet be "Favorite Piqua Ware"?

                    1. re: Miss Priss

                      Yes! Definitely - I can make out some of the letters well but never heard the name Piqua before so didn't think I was reading it correctly.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        Favorite Piqua came out of Ohio, and made lovely cast iron till the Depression hit them. They went out of business in 1934, so anything you find from them is at least that old...My absolute favorite piece is a very early Piqua #9 dutch oven. It's just perfect. :-)

                  2. re: Miss Priss

                    The number corresponds to the interior diameter of the bottom of a skillet, for the most part: for instance, my #10 Griswold is almost 12" across, lip-to-lip, but ten inches across the cooking surface. However, this gets out of whack with the smaller skillets (my #3 is actually FIVE inches across on the interior cooking surface), but as a general rule, add two inches to whatever the number is on the piece. I can't remember WHY this tradition evolved--even though I read it!--but it carried over to the dutch ovens, as well...

                    1. re: Beckyleach

                      Interesting, Beckyleach, but I'm not sure it holds up! Just measured the cooking surface of my #7 Griswold, and it's 8" across. Don't have my #8, #9, and #12 handy, but will measure them when I get a chance. The cooking surface of my no-name #3 skillet is, as you say, about 5" in diameter; but it helpfully reads, on the bottom, "6-1/2 inch skillet." Still confused!

                      1. re: Miss Priss

                        Well, heck, who knows? :-) I just go with this rule of thumb, which usually doesn't fail: : the diameter of the skillet's upper rim USUALLY is two inches larger than its Number.

              4. Cut it in half and count the rings.

                1. Hey, hey! I went ahead and ran your description by my WAGS friends, and they had a likely answer within minutes. Try looking at this picture, enlarged:

                  They say that if it looks like this, it's likely a different kind of unmarked Wagner, from aproximately the 1940 through the 1960.

                  Is this yours?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Beckyleach

                    That's "from 1940 through 1960." I changed my sentence and didn't delete enough words!

                    1. re: Beckyleach

                      Thanks for that, Becky. I registered with WAGS but they don't let you post until they review your info, which can take a few days. The lid in the link has the same type of basting ring, but 3, where mine has 2. The seller didn't give any info on size - possibly mine is a smaller version of the eBay lid. Otherwise, they look the same, and the time period is consistent. It never even occurred to me that the lid and pot might not be the original pair, either.