Skillets are the workhorses of the kitchen, used morning, noon, and night to cook up everything from bacon and eggs to dirty rice. Accordingly, skillets are typically built to take almost non-stop use, with cast iron being a favorite medium for manufacturers.

In the second half of the 19th century, one particularly legendary cast-iron cookware maker was Griswold Manufacturing Company. Based in Erie, Pennsylvania, Griswold made its first skillets in 1865. Dating Griswold skillets, which were produced in a range of sizes (from #6 to #12), can be tricky because so many different marks on the bottoms of Griswold pans were produced concurrently.

For example, the word ERIE or “ERIE” was stamped on the bottoms of Griswold skillets through 1909, but in 1874, Griswold also began to combine the stamped word ERIE with a depiction of a spider in a web. Skillets with such markings were only made until 1905, so they are relatively scarce.

A skillet with an unblemished spider and web is especially difficult to find because the design was raised rather than incised, which means it was susceptible to wear from contact with stovetops and other surfaces.

Two other pre-1900 Griswold logos were launched in 1884. One squeezed the word ERIE inside a horizontal diamond, while the other branded the skillet as GRISWOLD’S “ERIE.” And then, in 1897, the first of the famous Griswold cross logos appeared. These were produced until 1957, in a slanted font until around 1920 and a blocky font thereafter.

Griswold skillets produced after 1940, which generally have small or medium-sized crosses on their bottoms, are not collectible since the metal used in casting is deemed inferior to that which had come before.

Another major manufacturer of cast-iron skillets is the French firm Le Creuset, which was founded in 1925. Production was interrupted during World War II (the German army seized ...

Although the casting techniques used by Griswold and Le Creuset were virtually identical, the finishes on skillets by each company could not be more different. Griswold skillets were tough and utilitarian, with no effort made to disguise the material used in their manufacture. Le Creuset skillets, of course, are enameled in bright colors on the outside (orange is the classic) and matte black on the inside, giving them a more polished appearance than trusty Griswolds.

Copper was another material used to make skillets. Some had handles made of Delft china, others like those made by Philippe LaFrance were copper clad with tinned insides. Vintage Revere Ware skillets from the postwar years were also copper clad—look for square Revere skillets with matching square lids.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage**rare** Griswold Cast Iron Skillet No. 13 720 Slant Logo Erie Pa. Nice!Vintage No.10 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Erie Pa., Usa 716 With Large LogoHuge Vintage #14 Griswold Era Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan 15 1/2" Heat RingVintage Cast Iron Griswold #10 716b Skillet Frying Pan Small Block Logo!Antique 1860-70s Cast Iron Skillet Size #8 Unmarked Gate Mark BottomGriswold # 14 Cast Iron Skillet !!!Cast Iron Griswold Erie #11 SkilletRare Antique Vtg Giant Favorite Piqua 18 Cast Iron Frying Pan Skillet Griddle Vintage Griswold Tapered Slot Skillet Rack Holder Cast Iron Pan Display (pre Griswold) Erie Cast Iron Skillet With Makers Mark No. 10 ExcellentVintage Griswold 2 Cast Iron Skillet 703 Erie Pa Large Block SlantedChicago Hardware & Foundry Hammerd 89 Cast Iron #9 Deep Skillet / Fryer With LidVintage No.8 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Erie Pa., Usa 704 With Large LogoGriswold "erie" Cast Iron #10 Slant Logo Skillet With Heat RingGriswold #12 Small Block Logo With 2 Spouts And Heat Ring Cast-iron SkilletGriswold 1068 Skillet Display Stand With Wood Base And Holds 7 Skillets.Old Antique Early 1900's Griswold Erie Cast Iron Skillet Marked Erie 9c LargeVintage Unmarked Hammered Deep Cast Iron Skillet W/lid Wagner? Chicago?Antique #15 1013 Griswold Erie Pa Oval Skillet Excellent ConditionCivil War Era Antique Cast Iron Skillet Pps 11 Gate Mark With Lid#1 10 Griswold Skillet With Block Tm & Heat Ring Old Antique Early 1900's Griswold Erie Cast Iron Skillet Marked Erie 9a LargeGriswold Large Block Logo Cast Iron #8 Skillet With Heat Ring Slant Griswold Cast Iron Large Block Logo Skillet Set 3,4,6,7,8,10# 4 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet / Slant Logo Vintage Wapak # 12 Cast Iron Skillet With Z On The Handle- Early 1900's ModelScarce!!! Erie Pre Griswold # 10a Cast Iron Skillet/pan! Griswold Cast Iron Skillet # 777 Large Logo Deep Chicken Fryer -no Reserve#10 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet 716a Erie Lg Logo Heat Ring Clean No Wobble PrimGriswold Number 10 Iron SkilletGriswold "erie" Cast Iron #9 Slant Logo Skillet With Heat RingLe Creuset 4 Pc Set Yellow Cast Iron Enamel Skillets Sauce Pan Dutch Oven PotAntique Griswold No. 8 Deep Cast Iron Chicken Fryer Skillet 10-1/2" W/ Glass LidEarly Pre Griswold Erie 9 Cast Iron Skillet With Heat Ring 3 Griswold Erie Pa Skillets #3, #6, #8 W/ Sm Logo & Grooved Handles Very GoodGriswold 768 Square Fry Skillet E 12 3/4" Frying PanGriswold No.6 Cast Iron Skillet Large Block Logo P/n 699Antique Vintage Cast Iron No. 14 Griddle Skillet Frying Pan Camping FishingGriswold No 9 Slant Logo Skillet With Heat Ring "erie" Nice ConditionGriswold Cast Iron Large Block Logo Skillet Set 3,4,5,6,7Rare Early 1890-1910 "erie" Griswold #6 699b Skillet Before Large & Small LabelGriswold "erie" Cast Iron #8 Slant Logo Skillet With Heat RingGriswold Cast Iron # 4 Slant Logo Skillet With Heat RingGriswold~ Antique 6.5" Cast Iron "erie" Skillet W/large Slant Logo+ring (#3~709)Antique Griswold No.8 Skillet~10" Cast Iron Fry Pan~large Block Logo~704 W~erieRare Vintage Wagner Ware 6-inch 1052 #2 Cast Iron Skillet Sidney O Antique Griswold Erie 10" Cast Iron Skillet Pan No. 7 W Heat Ring Slant Logo 701Pre Griswold "erie" No.9 Cast Iron Skillet With Heat Ring 710h Vintage Wagner Ware Sidney Shallow Cast Iron Skillet 1098Rare Vintage Wagner Ware Childs Toy Skillet, Salesman Sample, #1365Griswold #8 Skillet Cover & Pan Vintage Black Cast Iron Griswold 14 Cast Iron SkilletPre-griswold! "erie" No. 11 Skillet!Griswold # 9 Cast Iron Skillet 710 B Large Logo Smoke Ring Frying PanAntique Griswold No.9 Skillet~11" Cast Iron Fry Pan~small Logo~pn 710 D~erie PaGriswold No 8 Large Block Logo Skillet And High Dome CoverVintage Wagner No.8 Cast Iron Skillet, Very CleanVintage Wagner Ware Cast Iron Deep Skillet And Chicken Fryer (pn 1088 J)Griswold Cast Iron Skillet No. 6 White Enamel Interior #699 Nice!Vintage Cast Iron Griswold #8 704f Skillet Frying Pan Small Block Logo!