Cast Iron

From 1865 until the late 1950s, the Griswold Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania made various cast iron implements for home use. Its selection of cookware, including skillets, muffin pans, roasters, bread molds, waffle irons, kettles and miniatures have stood up to the test of time and are the cast iron items most often found by collectors today.

Collectors can easily recognize the items, which were typically made from black iron. A distinctive mark on the back of each piece frequently confirms a Griswold find, but the company actually used several varying signatures during its time. In fact, Griswold is the most collectible cast iron in today’s market.

Collectors look for the words “Erie,” “Erie PA” or “Erie PA USA” under the Griswold logo to confirm that their newly-found treasures were indeed made in Pennsylvania.

Ardent collectors typically favor pieces made in the late 1800s. For example, skillets featuring #12 and #14 on the back are readily available in the market, but the #13 is more difficult to find. Many collectors look for the cherished #13 to complete a Griswold skillet collection. The most sought-after piece is the Griswold Dutch oven, ranging in value from $50 up to $200 or more. The larger the piece, the greater the value.   

Now, let’s try something a little different! Normally I write about items and situations I come across every day as an appraiser. Instead, it’s your time to shine. I would like to know what questions you have about your own items or pieces that have intrigued you.  

I’d like to write my next article about what you, dear readers, want to know as opposed to what I think should be the focus for the month. Are there family heirlooms lingering in your home? Do you keep asking yourself “What is this thing?” Well, now you can get answers.

For example, last week I had an email from a young man asking me about a framed Disney cartoon of Mickey Mouse with an illegible signature from the artist. After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that the piece the man had was in fact a fake and the only way to see this difference was to compare the size of the real cartoon drawing against the fake cartoon drawing.  

I enjoy the hunt. I consider my profession to be a down-tempo version of an Indiana Jones movie. I am an adventurer in search of treasures. And every once in a while, I do find a few. There might just be one in your home, too. 

— Email Jeffrey at damshill@yahoo.com or write Ask the Appraiser, c/o Jeffrey Pearson; 5525 North 12th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85014.