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    

# 12 Large Logo Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 11 Skillet Griswold #11 Cast Iron Skillet Large Block Epu Logo Heat Ring Cleaned & SeasonedGriswold Erie Cast Iron # 8 Skillet .....anchor Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 6 Skillet Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 10 Skillet # 11 Griswold Cast Iron SkilletWagner Cast Iron #8 Deep Skillet & CoverGriswold Merit Cast Iron # 10 Skillet Antique Griswold No. 10 716 A Large Slant Logo Heat Ring Cast Iron Skillet PanGriswold Large Block Logo Epu No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet, Pn 716 BGriswold Erie Cast Iron # 9 Skillet Set Of 2 Cherry Re Le Creuset Skillet Grill Pans 11.34 & 11.44Griswold Iron Mountain Cast Iron # 8 Deep Skillet With CoverGriswold Erie Cast Iron # 7 Skillet & Wagner Skillet CoverVintage Griswold No. 768 Square-fry Skillet Cast Iron W/ Glass LidGriswold #11 Cast Iron Skillet #717 Large Block Logo W/ Heat RingGriswold No. 9 Slant Logo “erie” Cast Iron Skillet 710 A W Heat Ring 100 Yea...Vintage 6" Griswold 1093 Cast Iron #3 Self Basting Dome Skillet Lid ~nr~Pre Griswold Erie #9 Cast Iron Skillet 2nd Series With Makers Mark Circa 1880'sGriswold #109 Cast Iron Skillet Griddle-nice!# 9 Large Logo Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Chicago Hardware Foundry 8810 Hammered Cast Iron 12" Skillet Pan With LidAntique Griswold No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet 719 A Heat Ring Large Frying PanAntique No. 12 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet 719 With Heat RingVintage Original Griswold No. 8 Skillet With Heat Ring 704 H Large LogoGriswold Cast Iron Colonial Breakfast Skillet Erie 2nd Series Pre-griswold Skillet With Anchor Makers MarkGriswold No.10 Low Dome 470 Fully Lettered Skillet Lid Cover Cast Iron Erie, Pa.Griswold Large Block Logo Cast Iron #3 Skillet With Heat Ring~vintage Hammered Cast Iron 11" Chicken Fryer/skillet Fry Pan W/cover! L@@k!!~Griswold #5 Cast Iron Skillet, Large Block Logo, 724b, Smooth BottomGriswold #8 Self Basting Cast Iron Skillet Cover Block Logo Lid Pn 1098Griswold Cast Iron No. 10 Self Basting 470 Skillet Cover 1925 A BeautyUnusual Griswold Slant Erie P/n 704 E Size No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet Heat Ring"wagner" Cast Iron Skillet # 11 With Heat Ring# 2 Griswold Cast Iron Skillet / Repaired.Griswold Cast Iron Skillet # 11 Large Logo, Block LetteringGriswold Cast Iron Quaker Ware SkilletsGriswold, Large Cross, Number 8 Cast Iron Skillet, 10" Wide, 2" TallVintage Griswold Cast Iron No. 8 Deep Skillet, 732, Slant Logo. Erie, Pa.Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan # 10 Large Block Logo Heat Ring Restored# 8 Griswold Epa Deep Skillet (chicken Fryer) With Matching LidP/n 719 Griswold Large Block Logo Erie Pa Usa #12 Cast Iron Skillet W/ Heat RingGriswold No. 8 468a Self Basting Skillet Cover Or Lid 2 Patent DatesGriswold #14 (718b) Cast Iron Skillet Frying PanMatched Set Of 3 Griswold Erie Pa Skillets With Large Block , # 3, # 6 & # 8Rare No. 5 Griswold Large Block Logo With Heat Ring Cast Iron Skillet **read**Griswold Cast Iron Self Basting Skillet Cover # 8 Double Patent Date P/n 468aWagner Cast Iron Skillet No. 10 Stylized Logo Smooth Bottom P/n 1060Old Erie 710 F Cast Iron Heat Ring Frying Pan Skillet No 9 GriswoldVintage Wagner Ware Bacon & Egg Breakfast Skillet 1101v - Unused Original LabelVollrath Cast Iron #8 SkilletGriswold Large Block Logo Epu Smooth Bottom Skillet No. 9 Pn 710 FVintage Rare Oven Skillet Pan With Basting LidGriswold Erie Cast Iron # 7 Skillet Slant Logo No. 5 Griswold Erie (724 L) Cast Iron Skillet, Smoke RingGriswold, Small Cross, Number 9 Cast Iron Skillet, 11" Wide, 2" TallGriswold 1920 Large Block Logo Size 10 Cast Iron Skillet P/n 716 B W/ Heat RingLe Creuset Enamled Cast Iron Pot #18 1 Qt Flame Orange France Skillet W/ Lid~pan