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Griswold Skillets--Values vs. Prices?

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Hey, here're a couple of questions for the CI cognoscenti:

I was in an antique market the other day that I don't get to a lot, and there seemed to be a large number of Griswold skillets, chicken fryers and miscellany, in a wide range of sizes. To me, this was notable for two reasons:

(1) Many of these pans already had the fabled "glass smooth" bottom texture and abundant-yet-homogenous seasoning; and

(2) They were surprisingly inexpensive (say, an average of $35).

Is this a good average price for a good, flat Griswold?

Oh, and another thing... The selection included some crepe-type griddles I've never seen before, and even a "Bacon & Eggs" rectangular griddle that had two preformed egg wells and a separate trough for frying bacon. Are these shapes anything special?

Thanks!

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  1. I've bought a few on eBay purely as cookware, not as collectibles. That price seems very very good. There are Griswold experts who can explain better than I why more recently manufactured Griswold ironware is not as good as older ware (e.g. http://www.griswoldcookware.com/), although I'm not sure where rarity overlaps with quality of materials in terms of collectibility.

    In any case, I just tried to buy pans that were no younger than around 1940 because they were supposed to be lighter. And I am lazy about seasoning a new pan. The three I have work beautifully.

    1. I'm sure other folks will chime in, but I would say that there are probably some great skippers at a good price there. Grizzlies were made over a great period of time, and not all of them are the same. It is pretty easy to determine which era a pan is from by looking at the there is extensive info online about all of the logo, but for starters, you will probably see griswolds with round logos with a cross in the center that says griswold. If the logo is large, or has slanted lettering, it is pretty old, somewhere in the earlier part of the last century, with the newer ones having smaller logos. The older pans are more sought after, and command a higher price but both the large logos and small logo pans I have are great. Later in the century the quality is said to have gone down and griswold was eventually bought by Wagner. I understand that these pans are less desirable, and start to show the beginnings of what some people don't like about new cast iron, namely unfinished cooking surfaces and heavier, thicker designs. I would recommend finding a nice looking pan that is older, sits flat, has a smooth bottom free from pitting, and with minimum carbon buildup on the sides of the pan. Such a pan will be a good deal at 35 dollars, and if it is a less collectible pan may be even cheaper. Most of the griswolds I have are small logos and I like them a lot. Currently my two favorite pans are my numbers 7 & 10 wagners, which were made sometime prior to the switch to the wagnerware logo. These pans are of the older thin steel breed, and I can say that I don't notice any uneven heating, even in the large one, which some folks say can happen with the older thinner pans. Good luck finding a nice one, if they have several I'm sure you'll find one

      5 Replies
      1. re: motownbrowne

        motownbrowne: "Later in the century the quality is said to have gone down and griswold was eventually bought by Wagner."

        Just a very small correction here that does not take anything away from the substance of your advice: Griswold and Wagner both were purchased (but in separate transactions) by a third company, which then briefly(?) moved production of Griswold-branded ware to the Wagner factory in Ohio. That is why some afficianados of Griswold say that the crucial information on the underside of a Griswold piece is the word "Erie," which designates that it is original Pennsylvania Griswold, not made-in-the-Wagner-factory Ohio Griswold.

        1. re: Politeness

          I see, thanks for the info. The history of the Griswold logo is really fascinating. I have seen some really beautiful pieces. I don't own any prior to the cross logo, i.e. the diamond or just the word "Erie", but I always have my eyes open. I did see an "Erie" number 10 recently that was in pretty good shape considering its age, but I think the dealer wanted at least 100 dollars for it. Although I like the idea that the pans I have found on the cheap are collectible, and certainly would love to see more hanging in my kitchen, I just couldn't justify the price, especially when I already have a number ten that I love.

          1. re: motownbrowne

            Sounds like good deals. Just make sure the bottom is not warped. Take a six inch ruler and check inside and outside to make sure there is no more than 1/32" gap.

            1. re: terlin

              I wish I'd had that advice when I bought an otherwise good shape Griswold a few years ago. It turned out to be warped to the point where it spun on my smooth-top electric stove, which needs an absolutely flat-bottomed pan. I gave it to a relative who has a gas stove, figuring that could handle a slightly warped pan better.

              1. re: luvsummer

                luvsummer (and Politeness and others):

                Aha! It's all so clear to me now.... Politeness is 100% right in his/her opinion that flat-bottomed cookware is not essential to it working on induction. And others are correct that you need flat-bottomed pans or essentially a tripod *to keep them from spinning/rocking* on a smooth cooktop. Perhaps the appliance manufacturers' copywriters were not so lazy after all in repeating the need for flat bottoms; it's about *liability* not *compatibility*. I think we harmonized things here a bit.

                Thank you, luvsummer!

      2. Thank you all. Any familiarity with the griddles?

        9 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Hi Kaleo,

          While I can't speak to the value or price of the griddles, I can address usefulness.

          I have an 11" Griswold 109 skillet griddle. Great piece of cookware. Very versatile. Good for anything from searing meat to making pancakes, grilled sandwiches, French toast.

          It's not extremely heavy - weighs 3 lb 13 oz. As for thickness, it's only 1/8" thick, measuring at the rim. It heats to the water-skittering stage in around 90 seconds.

          Lucy

          1. re: I used to know how to cook...

            Hi, Lucy:

            Thanks for the info. Does your griddle have a cross web cast into the bottom for reinforcement? I do not have any griddle per se at present, and one of these at $35 sounds better than a $300 copper crepe pan that I might rarely use.

            Not that it's especially utilitarian, but I'm fascinated by the bacon-and-eggs one with 3 separate cooking wells. Have you seen one of those?

            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Hi,

              No cast bottom reinforcement, it's smooth. Maybe that's part of the reason for the fairly light weight.

              Earlier in the thread Politeness mentioned Erie as indicating original Pennsylvania Griswold. My griddle is marked Erie PA.

              It's not completely flat. Actually more like a very wide but shallow skillet. The depth is around 5/8 in. Makes it pretty handy for anything that has any liquid at all, such as when deglazing.

              To be honest, I don't see it being interchangeable at all with a crepe pan. Apples and oranges.

              I've not seen the one with separate cooking wells.

              Lucy

              1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                Hi, Lucy:

                Thanks.

                To me, an 11" pan that weighs under 4 pounds is light, but I didn't weigh or measure the "skeletonized" Griswold. What LovinSpoonful said about heat rings and woodstoves means there are going to be a lot of great Griswolds out there for me when I finally get the institutional woodstove!

                I don't know the various mold numbers, but the round griddles I saw were near dead flat, except about 3/8" from the rim. Would these be a poor choice for crepes and Swedish pancakes?

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Hi Kaleo,

                  Sorry to be so late in my reply.

                  My griddle is flat except for the flared rim. I wouldn't use it for crepes. The crepe pan I used in cooking school was steel, probably 7 - 7/12" in diameter, with a shallow rim - maybe 1"?

                  As for Swedish pancakes, if you mean plattar, those take a special pan, called a plett pan. It has seven circular depressions, each about 2-1/2" in diameter and 1/4" deep, which hold the batter. Mine is made of cast aluminum, from Nordicware.

                  I'd say a plett pan is pretty much a uni-tasker, rather like an Aebleskiver pan.

                  Lucy

                  1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                    Hi, Lucy:

                    The only Swedish pancakes I know are the ones my aunt makes, and they are at least 6" in diameter, paper-thin, and have the consistency of crepes.

                    Already have an Aebelskiver pan, but have never used it.

                    Thanks for the info!

                    Kaleo

              2. re: kaleokahu

                I have seen one of the eggs and bacon skippers you are referring to. I wasn't too impressed, the one I saw didn't appear to be made that well (namely the surface seemed rough). I would also mention that bacon takes considerably longer to cook than eggs, so having part of the pan set aside for eggs while the bacon is cooking seems silly. I think that part would get too hot if you weren't careful. I think you should just get two regular shaped skillets, one for your bacon, and one for your eggs. Of course, if you think the pan is neat or would look cool with the rest of them, and it is a good deal, then why not?

                1. re: motownbrowne

                  I have seen a square Wagner pan with the separate places for eggs and bacon. I thought it was a nice pan, but not useful for me. It was a handsome pan though.

                  1. re: motownbrowne

                    motown: You are probably 100% right. I looked at the Griswold ("skipper" as you put it, now I've learned what to call it) and wondered about the actual cooking. What I told myself at the time was that these smart folks must've designed the pan to start with the bacon first, then tip the pan up to put some grease into the eggwells and then just carry on with the eggs. I guess it'd cost me $35 to find out!

                    No thanks, I'm past the point of pans as strictly decor--now I want the decor to fit the useful pans.

            2. $35 is a good price for one of the smaller skillets. As you go larger the value quickly escalates, as it does for demonstrably earlier pieces. For example, the Griswold skillets that say nothing but "Erie" on the bottom in large letters, with no Griswold logo at all, are generally speaking the most desirable. An early #12 Griswold in good shape can easily set you back $200.

              One way for you to discriminate between older skillets and new ones of one of the classic makers (Griswold, Wagner, Piqua, Wapak) is to look for a "heat ring" (a lip on the bottom edge of the pan). The presence of a heat ring generally indicates that you have one of the earlier pans. The purpose was to raise the pan just off the surface of a wood burning stove to prevent "hotspots" where the stove surface contacted the bottom of the pan.

              That said, if the pan is flat and smooth inside then it will perform well as a "cooker" example.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LovinSpoonful

                thanks for all your insider info on markings and characteristics! much obliged.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  I will say that I do agree with some who say that older cast iron is superior. I have heard that for whatever reason the iron ore that was mined and used in CI cookware before the forties was of superior quality. I do know that if you look at a well cleaned or well preserved early iron skillet that the metal does seem different...it looks more like steel, it has more of a "sing" to it when you ding it, and I can personally vouch for the fact it DOES hold heat better. I tested two identically sized pans, one a recent Lodge and the other a turn of the century Griswold. The Griswold was in fact lighter and thinner. I was seasoning both of them in a 500 degree oven, pulled them out and let them sit for 10 minutes. I moved the lodge and it was uncomfortably warm. I moved the Griswold and I have a scar on my palm that is a testament to how well it holds heat. I never would have thought it possible but I literally have the scar to prove it.

                2. re: LovinSpoonful

                  LovinSpoonful:

                  Thank you VERY much! I have been (mis)spending time all over learning about cookware, and you have taught me something invaluable I've heard nowhere else. What you said about the purpose of the "heat ring" explains a lot, as to why early CI pieces are generally thinner, yet somehow perform better! Unless one *must* have a perfectly flat bottomed pan--to preserve their flat glass cooktop--it all makes sense in terms of even heat! It also explains why thinner isn't necessarily better except where you have very even heat to start with.

                  All CI fans should think this out, in terms of what hobs they're putting their CI *on*.

                  Thanks again.

                3. This is great info! Now I know why I love my skillet - it is the large old Erie, PA logo. I didn't buy it though - my mom used it when I was a kid!

                  1. Just in case anyone here knows--I have a #8 no name skillet which resembles a Griswold, although the spouts are shaped slight differently. (I have noticed that other no names have shallower spouts. The Griswolds have nice deep spouts to pour from.) On the bottom of my no name cast iron skillet are the initials, PJ. Any ideas what I have?

                    My Griswolds have the smaller circle, and I am sure they are "newer" ones. They do, however, work fine.