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Expanding My Copper Cookware Collection -- Would Like Your Input!

Greetings, all!

As my name states, I am a neophyte to copper cookware. (I am also new to this site; this is my first post.) Thanks to the members of this site, by reading through the other discussions regarding copper cookware, I learned the answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Thank you all! Your knowledge on the subject is quite impressive! I hope I will not bore you by posting a few more questions on the subject.

As a preface to my questions, let me say that the other discussions have helped me determine what kind of copper I would like to buy: tin-lined, 2.5 mm (and up) copper, with cast-iron handles, and pigtailed handled lids. As long as the cookware meets those criteria, I am not particularly committed to having all the same brand, or having all new cookware, or all older, used cookware. (I do, however, lean toward older or antique cookware.) Neither, am I particular about which pieces I buy to expand my current small collection – a few pieces I inherited.

My questions, then, are as follows:

When looking at the Mauviel and Bourgeat sites, all I found were pieces lined with stainless steel. Is that all they offer now, or have I overlooked their tin-lined line? If that is, in fact, all they now have to offer, does anyone know of a manufacturer that produces cookware that meet the criteria I describe above?

In another discussion, a member posted this link of a re-tinning shop in Colorado (http://www.rockymountainretinning.com...) that was selling a set of four sauce pans, with lids, that meet my criteria, for what seems to be a fairly good price. Has anyone purchased those pans to know of their quality?

Thank you.

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  1. Hi and Welcome!

    Don't know about other manufactures, but about the Mauviel :-

    If you go to the French site (just http://www.mauviel.com) you can see the tinned product line (M'Tradition). The link for English language doesn't work so you will have to muddle through in French. Useful words seem to be :-

    cuivre : copper
    étamé : tinned
    inox : stainless steel
    monture fonte : refers to cast iron handle
    monture froide : often refers to stainless steel handle
    fort : strong. often refers to 2.5mm+ thickness
    table/service : the thin stuff, usually with bronze handles. Not really for cooking.

    Also, there is http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/cuivre-eta... which is a shop in Paris that shows the same product line. They don't advertise the fact that their copper is all Mauviel, but I went in there and saw the tinned hammered stuff with stamped Mauviel logos stamped on them. Don't know if that stuff is imported to wherever you live though.

    Good luck, and don't forget to cook in it! ;-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Fumet

      Emmmmm.... I think you meant that the tinned Mauviel line, now unavailable in the US, is M'Heritage, not M'Tradition.

      1. re: kaleokahu

        Errrmmmm... No, I didnt mean that. Check the website.

        1. re: Fumet

          Oops, my bad confused. You're right. If they had it to do over, maybe Mauviel would pick more dissimilar names for these two lines. Mea maxima culpa.

      2. re: Fumet

        Thank you for your response, Fumet. The links you provided (particularly the one for E. Dehillerin), as well as the translations, were very helpful!

        Merci beaucoup!

      3. Two questions for you:
        Why only tin?
        Why copper lids?

        eBay and Craigslist are great places to look for old copper, however a word of advice is to ask what a piece weighs instead of asking how thick it is. There's a lot of cheaply made copper pieces online and most folks selling them have no clue what's good and what's bad.

        19 Replies
        1. re: ThreeGigs

          Thank you for your response, ThreeGigs.

          Why only tin? Based on what I read in other discussions, I prefer the reduced stickiness of tin, the fact that it is inert, its better heat transfer (which, due to its thickness, may be negligible – although some members say that it is not), and the fact that, if I find older pieces, if necessary, I can have them re-lined with tin. Although I don’t require that all the pieces match, I would like to be somewhat consistent. Also, I appreciate the experience of using old technology, as it were. Nonetheless, I’m not particularly enamored with the idea of having to re-line them. But I am willing to deal with that when and if the time comes.

          Why copper lids? The two pieces I already own have copper lids with the pigtail handles. Again, I would like to be somewhat consistent. Regarding the pigtailed handles, I like the aesthetics of them, and read that they can be cooler to the touch. (I have yet to confirm that, however.) Nonetheless, having said all that, ideally, I would like to have copper cookware with glass lids like my Calphalon. Heresy, perhaps, but I do like to see how something is coming (when possible) without having to remove the lid. No doubt, I will use what Calphalon lids I can with my copper cookware. Of course, if I am going to use Calphalon lids, buying the copper piece without the lid is possible; but again, I would like to be consistent.

          I have already been digging around on eBay. I’ve not checked Craigslist though. Most of the better-looking pieces I found on eBay were in England, and appeared to need re-lining. At least for those pieces, considering the current bids, the cost of shipping from England, plus the cost of re-lining them, the overall cost would probably be more than buying a new piece here in the states. Nonetheless, I will continue to check for pieces there.

          Your comment about the weight of a piece intrigues me. Perhaps asking the thickness is not sufficient? If so, is there a ratio, or some rule-of-thumb, by which one can determine the thickness, or quality, by its weight?

          Thanks again!

          1. re: CopperNeophyte

            I am curious who mentioned that tin is inert? Because it's not. Leave a tin pan wet after washing and it will turn a soot-colored black, and not stay the off-silver that it originally was. I rather not see you purchase a large amount of tinned copper under that impression.

            1. re: mateo21

              Hi, Mateo21.

              Thank you for your response.

              I went back and re-read the other discussion (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482991), and you’re right: I either mis-read, or mis-remembered. The comment by JW20000 in that discussion was that tin was “nearly inert on the galvanic corrosion table.”

              I appreciate your mentioning tin’s reaction if left wet after washing. That’s certainly something for me to consider.

            2. re: CopperNeophyte

              It's good you've read up on tin before making your decision. Personally, I prefer stainless simply because I don't have to worry about it... sear, deglaze, metal spatula... it's all ok. As for lids, I HATE... absolutely HATE copper lids. Way too much condensation on them. I want to keep heat in, not let it conduct out and promote condensation.

              As for buying copper on eBay/Craigslist, I find that most people can't measure thickness very well, and in some cases can't tell the difference between copper plated and solid copper pieces. It's just a lot more foolproof if you can get the weight of the piece and compare it to a similar one of known thickness. I think the Baumalu website, or perhaps Falk's has weight and thickness info for various sizes of pots and pans.

              1. re: ThreeGigs

                Thanks again, ThreeGigs.

                I had not heard about the condensation problems with copper lids. That’s an interesting problem. What kind of lids do you use?

                I understand now what you mean about the weight – an excellent tip. Also, thanks for telling me about the weight information on the Baumalu and Falk site. That will be helpful.

                1. re: CopperNeophyte

                  Copper conducts heat. So hot steam loses heat to the lid, which quickly conducts it to the air. If a copper lid is 5x as heat conductive as a glass lid, 5x as much steam will condense and drip inside.

                  I have one Falk with a lid and a Mauviel with a lid. I think.. I have to dig them out from wherever I buried them to be sure. Here in Poland glass lids in standard sizes are easily available, and I have all glass lids for my cookware now, aside from the All-Clad bits.

                  1. re: ThreeGigs

                    3G: "If a copper lid is 5x as heat conductive as a glass lid, 5x as much steam will condense and drip inside."

                    This seems nonsensical. The RATE at which the vapor FROM THE PAN condenses on the conductive lid (and runs or drips back into the contents) might be faster. Certainly you're not saying that somehow more water from OUTSIDE ends up in a pan lidded in copper! Or are you?

                    1. re: ThreeGigs

                      Heat conducitivty is the rate of heat transfer within the material not outside the metal. The water vapor condensation rate depends on the temperature of the surface, not the conductivity of the metal. As much water vapor will condense on a 20oC glass surface as it will condense on a 20oC copper surface. If anything glass has better specificy heat capacity and a glass lid is usually thicker than a copper lid, therefore a glass lid has more heat capacity and will heat up less as it exchange heat with the vapor.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Chem:

                        Are you saying that a lower temperature glass lid will condense at a faster rate than a warmer copper lid? That is consistent with the idea behind a doufeu.

                        You agree that a copper lid (vs something less conductive) is not going to put more water into a pan from the outside, correct?

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          kaleo,

                          Yeah, water vapor will condense faster on a lower temperature glass lid than a warmer copper lid. Oh yes, a copper lid is not going to put more water into a pan from outside, but that is probably not what ThreeGigs meant. He probably typed too fast and meant vapor condense faster on a copper lid.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Chem: exactly. Since the copper lid can dissipate the heat faster (to the outside), more water vapor can condense on the inside. A LOT more. I dug out my copper lids.. the Falk isn't bad, it's basically flat. But the Mauviel has a somewhat domed shape in the center, and I remember putting the saute pan right on the table for a dinner, and the absolute puddle of water around the edge that formed after a mere 10 minutes. Oddly too, both of the lids I have have green copper oxide on them in many places. Looks like it's time to polish 'em up and sell 'em on eBay.

                            And it's not the temp or the heat capacity. It's the conductivity. A lid only has enough heat capacity to condense a fairly small amount of water, but since the copper can dump the heat more quickly, it allows the lid to remain cooler which means more condensation.

                            1. re: ThreeGigs

                              ThreeGigs,

                              "Since the copper lid can dissipate the heat faster (to the outside), more water vapor can condense on the inside."

                              "And it's not the temp or the heat capacity. It's the conductivity."

                              These are the parts I am not entirely sure. Heat conductivity is the rate of which thermal energy which can be conducted through a metal, not outside of a metal. How fast thermal energy can be dissipated from the metal to the outside air, has to do with how the air molecules come in contact and exchange the heat with surface. Radiative heat lost is another routine, but that also is independent of the metal conductivity.

                              Think about it this way. Ceramic is a poor heat conductor than copper. Much poor. But a 400F ceramic tide will radiate the same amount of energy as a 400F copper surface -- assuming we paint them into the same color. A ceramic oven is not going to give off heat much slower than a copper oven and therefore will not cook food much slower.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Thermal Conductivity is the ability of a material to pass heat through itself. In the case of a lid, the material with the greater thermal conductivity will heat faster from the inside (where the heat is) to the outside. One would assume that a copper lid would be thinner and have higher thermal conductivity than a glass lid, so in the same amount of time with the same internal temperature, the copper lid would be hotter. Although, if held long enough the glass lid would eventually catch up and be the same temperature, I don't know how long this would take as it would depend on the thickenss of the lids and the thermal conductivity of a specific type of glass lid.

                                Heat transfer to the air is greatly effected by air movement (no air movement = not much heat exchange) and surface area. A flat copper lid would have less surface area than a domed glass lid, so in theory the glass lid would transfer more heat, but would take longer to reheat. I'm questioning if a statitically significant difference could be determined.

                                I may have just restated or confirmed your post above.

                              2. re: ThreeGigs

                                3G: I'm still confused... You lidded your saute after cooking and set it aside for table service and 10 minutes later there was a lot of water around the periphery. Is that right?

                                I accept the fact that (internal) condensation happens in this situation and I get the periphery part (domed lid).. But I still don't understand how a glass lid (every one I've seen is domed, too) at ambient temp would cause less condensation than a copper one at ambient temp. It just seems intuitive to me that the copper lid would heat faster than glass over that 10 minutes, and therefore foster LESS condensation in the pan.

                                [I am not being flippant or snarky] Do you think your saute ended up internally drier, yet surrounded by a moat of condensed water? That's the logical conclusion to draw if the water could come only from contents of the pan, right?

                                I just acquired a very old copper doufeu (lid photo attached), the concept of which I understood to be turning vice into virtue: increased self-basting of the pan's contents with condensed pot liquor. But I also understood that this effect--to be efficacious--required that one put ice, icewater, or icepacks into the lid's rebated rim. Isn't the purpose of actively cooling the lid to keep the temperature gradient between contents and lid as wide as possible, and thereby foster increased condensation? I have a hard time accepting that a glass lid will be warmer (and therefore less conducive to condensation) than a copper one after 10 minutes at table.

                                Aside: If you put your copper pieces up for sale, would you let me know?

                                 
                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Ok, gonna reply to all 3 of you.

                                  Try this experiment: Put some water in a pan, heat it to almost boiling. Put a lid on it. Wait 5 minutes. The lid should be as hot as it's going to get. Remove the lid and tilt it to let the condensation drip off, and then quickly dry it with a towel and put it back on the pan.

                                  Now.. if what all of you are saying is true, the hot lid shouldn't condense any more steam. If what I'm saying is true, the hot lid will dissipate enough heat to the outside to condense more steam, and the amount of condensation is directly dependent on just how much heat it can dissipate.

                                  Read up on making moonshine, or distilling your own alcohol. There's a reason the condensers are made of copper, and it's because the higher conductivity allows for greater heat transfer.

                                  The same way a copper pot will boil water faster than a glass pot, just in reverse. Thermal capacity counts for the initial condensation, but for continued condensation once the lid has reached equilibrium temperature heat needs to be dissipated to the outside, either radiatively or through conduction with cooler outside air.

                                  Chem: Once the surface radiates the heat, it's cooler. Think of a ceramic lid, the outside would be much cooler than a copper lid (I think you'll agree there), thus the hotter copper will radiate more heat. The surface of the copper will stay hotter because the conductivity of copper keeps the heat flowing to the surface, whereas the ceramic would inhibit heat transfer.

                                  1. re: ThreeGigs

                                    With respect, I still disagree. I am NOT saying that a replaced (wiped)dry lid would not condense any more steam. In such a case the lid will then be even cooler and condense MORE. Regardless of lifting, drying, etc., there will STILL be a temperature gradient as long as the liquid in the pan is warmer than the lid, regardless of what the lid is made of. And as long as the liquid is giving off any vapor at all and the lid's cooler than the liquid, condensation is going to happen until the gradient approaches zero (Think of a terrarium). Hence continued, albeit declining condensation in the pan.

                                    Now, I don't have a problem with concluding, if you intentionally keep the temperature gradient steep enough, e.g., cooking in a doufew on a stovetop with ice in the lid, that it will increase the cyclic RATE of internal condensation, but it's not going to pull water out of the outside air. But what it CAN do is reduce the vapor pressure to the point where no steam sneaks out of the lidded pot at all--hence braising with a cup or two of liquid rather than a quart, thereby sparing you a bunch of time reducing later. My sense is that a thin glass lid is not going to lessen the gradient meaningfully over a copper lid.

                                    Yes, you're right about the preferred use of coiled copper condenser tubing in a still; it does a great job of conducting the heat out of the alcohol vapor over a short linear distance. You can (and many labs do) use glass as well, although the LENGTH might prove to be unwieldy. [Aside: As I know from my first attempts at moonshining, using lab glassware liberated from my high school chem class.]

                                    My guess is that your moated saute had less to do with the composition of your lid and more to do with its shape and the timing of cooking, resting, lidding and serving.

                  2. re: CopperNeophyte

                    Copperneo: "Most of the better-looking pieces I found on eBay were in England...considering the current bids, the cost of shipping from England, ... the overall cost would probably be more than buying a new piece here in the states."

                    Not at all. I have been steadily buying copperware on eBay now for almost a year. There are some VERY good deals, especially for brands OTHER than Mauviel, Ruffoni, Falk, Williams-Sonoma and Bourgeat. Occasionally there is a truly vintage piece that is better than any of the above, and it can go for a song. However, with the exception of lidded braising pans, shallow rectangular roasters, turbotiers pommes-vapeurs and -Annas, even these well-recognized brand names usually go for LESS THAN HALF of their retail prices. For the shapes mentioned, you are ahead to order them new directly from France, Italy or Belgium, because American prices for these pieces (new or eBay) are artificially high.

                    BTW, the used pans offered in Europe on eBay can also be good deals, because bidders are scared away by the freight. They usually sell for even less than pans offered in USA for that reason. You just have to be careful not to overbid. I recently bought from a French eBayer both a copper doufeu and a large 3mm saucepan, both with very good linings, for $70 each. Even with trans-Atlantic shipping, the total price for both pieces delivered was only $205.

                    If you're thinking of buying new, why not AMERICAN-made, from organic-cookware.com? Their free re-tinning is a very valuable plus.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      I did another search on eBay, this time for “vintage copper”, and found a couple of sauce pans that were in the ballpark, so to speak: seller located in the US, 2.0 mm, did not appear to need to be re-tinned, hammered, no lids, both appeared to have brass handles, both stamped with “A. Simon Paris”, one piece 7.25” x 4.0“ (5lbs. 1oz.), the other 6.5” x 3.54” (4.0 lbs., 1oz.), the former finally selling for $90.80 (plus $18.40 shipping), and the latter for $61.00 (plus $16.40 shipping). I didn’t bid because I am seriously thinking about buying the Rocky Mountain Retinning set that are new, thicker, have lids, and have two pans that are about the same size. After the bidding was done, it turns out the Rocky Mountain set is also less money per piece, too.

                      Of course, I will continue to watch eBay, and will take your experience about buying from Europe into consideration.

                      Organic-cookware.com does have some very nice stuff!

                      Thanks again!

                      1. re: CopperNeophyte

                        No problem. FYI, the last few days seem to be a strangely weak or lull period for eBay quality copperware listings, so don't be discouraged. Look for marks like Jaeggi, Mora, Lamalle, Duparquet, Bazaar Francaise 666, older Williams-Sonoma. Gaillard is the gold standard. The real hidden gems can be the thick, 19th C. American pieces that either have no mark at all, or only hotel or owner's marks

                        Here is pic of a kludgy old 12" American piece by a company called Bramhall Range Co. of Chicago. It's nearly 5 gallons, about 20 lbs., and I paid $75 for it.

                        If you limit your searches to Buy It Nows of new copperware, you can start to see what "deals" means when it comes to auctions.

                         
                2. You can also find a lot on buycoppercookware.com. Bridge Kitchenware was having a sale on pigtail handled lids. Also check French copper studio. I have not (knowingly) seen any of their pieces, but they sound good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tim irvine

                    Thanks for your response, Tim.

                    All three of the sites you mentioned do indeed carry tin-lined copper! Thank you for the information!

                  2. Hi:

                    Yes, welcome to the site. There's bad news and there's good news...

                    Bad: Pickings are pretty slim in the US for new, first-quality, tin-lined copper of European manufacture, except on eBay. You can occasionally find pieces of Mauviel's M'Heritage line as orphans in better independent cookware shops (e.g., Fantes in Philly, The Peppercorn in Boulder). Used is more widely available, but you need to become a eBay rat, and as more rats are looking, prices have been rising steadily. The eBaysellers of stored new tinned Mauviel and Ruffoni are getting high prices. I'd stick with used, in good condition.

                    Good: There is now an AMERICAN company making premium-quality tinned copperware. www.organic-cookware.com Their better pieces are chuck-formed of full 1/8 (MORE than 3mm) foils. And they give a 1-time re-tinning guarantee. Their production product line is still small, and if planishing (hammered finish) is important to you, they don't offer that. I believe their lid handles are loops rather than tails. However, they DO do custom foundry work, so handling pots with tails should be easy for them. They also do not publicize this, but as inheritors of all the old Waldow machine tools, they are able to duplicate any designs in the Waldow catalogue--which is extensive. The styling of their pieces is something YOU have to decide if you like, but it is as fine copperware as you will find being made anywhere, including France. The owner, Mac, is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

                    Outside the US, there is also Rameria Mazzetti in Montepulciano, Tuscany. Google that and you will find their nice website. Yes, they are as cute and friendly as they look! They do fine tinned copperware in 2 and 2.5mm, most lightly planished, and all handled in brass. I have one of their 24mm skillets, and it is well-made, the tin is very thick, a workhorse. They also line with silver, but that is $$$$.

                    Best: I am the one who posted about the 4-pan set available through Rocky Mountain Retinning. I own a set, and love it. I wouldn't change a thing about them, but I wish the range was more toward larger sizes. $385 for 4 new pieces of 3mm with lids? That's a FANTASTIC price, but in March 2010, Peter only had 20 or so sets left, so I wouldn't dally if you want one.

                    Good Luck.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Wow! Lots of information there – a lot to research and choose from! Thanks for your response, Kaleokahu!

                      I am very happy to have met someone who owns, has used, and likes the Rocky Mountain Retinning set. That price seemed too good to pass up, but I wasn’t sure about the quality. Do you know if they made those pieces themselves, or got a good deal on them from somewhere else, and re-lined them? If they manufactured them themselves, it seems odd that they don’t offer more – perhaps a lack of tooling?

                      Thanks again!

                      1. re: CopperNeophyte

                        Peter is somewhat secretive of the origin of the pans, but I gather that a third party brought or sold him the components and then disappeared, owing him money. Peter rivets the handles to pans and lids, and gives them their original tinning. I think these are the only 4 sizes, and I'm not sure if he would break a set.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I e-mailed them yesterday, and received a reply from Erik (I assume Peter’s son) today. He reports that although they are not stamped, his father was told that they were made in Europe. Regardless of what their pedigree may be, you (and others on the web) seem to be happy with the quality and price. I’m seriously thinking about buying them.

                          1. re: CopperNeophyte

                            There is really nothing not to like about them. What may not show well in the photos: (1) The planishing (hammering) was done with a smaller hammerface and sparser technique than folks are used to seeing on some other premium marks--notably Jaeggi and the oldest, best Williams-Sonoma and Mauviel pieces, where the hammer marks look huge and interlocked. Some folks prefer that look. Not as small as Ruffoni, though. (2) I have never seen better riveting than Peter does--my set has four perfect, symmetrical side facets in each rivet. (3) The cast iron handles have a rougher than normal texture (which I like for grip), and the "eyes" have a bit of extra slag in the holes.

                            Unless you're into names ahead of cooking, I would not be concerned with the provenance of Peter's pans. They are excellent quality.

                    2. I have some Mauviel stainless and have been very pleased with them for years. I have no experience with the tin lined.

                      1 Reply
                        1. I've got a whole bunch of mostly French tinned copper, some of which was gotten from antique malls but most from yard or estate sales. The purchase prices were generally from $5 to $15; one of the cheapest was a heavy English-made sauteuse with an iron handle, almost certainly a 19th century piece. Of course they all needed retinning; luckily there's a man who's very good at that, and charges around $100 per large piece, about $60 for smaller ones. He's old, and not in the best of health I'm afraid; I'm about to inherit a bunch more really nice pieces (all in need of retinning) and frankly I'm worried!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Thanks for your response, Will.

                            Wow! $5.00 - $15.00: even after re-tinning, that’s a heck of a deal!

                            My hours don’t really allow me to get to the estate sales at the best times. I’ll have to try to make more garage sales, if I can. (I’m not much of a morning person when I don’t have to get up, i.e. on the weekends.)

                            The items in the antique malls around here are way, WAY over-priced. Nonetheless, I’ll see what they may have.

                            Thanks again!

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              I am preparing my copper pots to send to Rocky Mountain Retinning. (www.rockymountainretinning.com/ ).

                              I have a stewpot and fry pan that are in pretty bad shape and I want to have them restored to their former beauty. After that, I plan expand my copper set -- a 2-qt saucepan, 9" frypan and 4 qt. stewpot-- to purchase bargains on ebay, which has good deals on copper cookware. I plan to buy new pieces if possible and used items that can be retinned.