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    

Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 10 Skillet "bulls Eye"Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 9 Skillet "postage Stamp"Erie 12 (pre Griswold ) Skillet Black Cast Iron 1800'sPre ? Griswold Cast Iron 11 Erie Slant Logo Skillet Pan With Ghost Lettering~ Erie Pre Griswold 12 - Heat Ring Cast Iron Skillet ~ #8 Erie Spider Cast Iron SkilletErie 11 (pre Griswold ) Skillet Black Cast Iron 1800'sGriswold #12 Self Basting Skillet & Cover Lid Rare Quality VintageGriswold Erie Cast Iron # 12 Skillet Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 6 Skillet Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 8 Skillet Pineapple Antique~griswold No. 8~cast Iron 3" Deep Skillet 1102 B~chicken Frying Pan~erie~Griswold Erie Cast Iron # 7 Skillet ~ Griswold Large Slant Logo #10 716a Cast Iron Skillet With Heat Ring ~Vintage Griswold Cast Iron Colonial Breakfast Skillet 666 Usa MadeGriswold Cast Iron Skillet Griddle 110 203 Slant LogoGriswold Cast Iron # 4 Skillet ~ Griswold Small Logo #12 719d Cast Iron Skillet ~Vintage Rare #6 Wapak Hollow Ware Indian Chief Cast Iron Skillet Heat Ring Fully Marked Victor Griswold # 9 Cast Iron Heat Ring Skillet Erie Pa#4-mountain Pan By Griswold, 1029, Cast Iron Skillet, Smoke Ring, NiceVintage Le Creuset White Enamel Cast Iron #20 8" Skillet!! Nr!!Griswold Cast Iron #7 Skillet CoverGriswold Cast Iron Skillet "square Egg Skillet" P/n 129 Small LogoMartin Stove And Range No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet Lid With Fancy HandleMatched Set Of 3 Griswold Erie Pa Skillets With Large Block , # 3, # 6 & # 8Vintage Set Of Wagner Ware Skillets #'s 3,5,6,8;1-krusty Korn Kobb Jr.,1-griddleGriswold Cast Iron "squar" Egg Skillet 129# 8 Griswold Erie Pa Skillet Slant Logo/hr P/n 704b Very Old & In Good ConditionVintage Cathrineholm Enamel Lotus Skillet Fry Pan Mid-century Danish Modern Nr!Wagner Cast Iron 9" Chef Skillet 1386 C With Thumb Hold Vintage Sidney ~o~ *****Lodge Duck 8" Cast Iron Skillet Camping Wildlife Griswold Cast Iron Red Porcelain Colonial Breakfast SkilletLodge Bass 10" Cast Iron Skillet Fishing Camping Wildlife Griswold Cast Iron Skillet GrillsVintage Wagner Ware #12 13.5" Large Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan 1062 Usa Made# 11 Griswold Erie Pa Skillet Large Block/heat Ring Excellent ConditionSet Of 2 Griswold Cast Iron Skillets No. 8 & 10 Small Block LogoGriswold #10 Small Block Logo-erie Cast Iron Skillet 716c -sits Flat-Griswold Enamel Cast Iron SkilletVintage Small Logo Griswold Cast Iron #12 Skillet W/ Heat Ring 1940's No WobbleVintage Birmingham Stove Bs&r 1 Qt Cast Iron Sauce Pot Pan W Lid Deep Skillet AlGriswold's Erie Cast Iron # 6 Skillet Griswold 704 R No.8 Skillet Stylized Logo With No Heat Ring Griswold Erie Pa, U.s.a A 250 Skillet Grill - Broiler Grid.Erie, No. 10 Skillet, Early Griswold,10a,heat Ring, Flat, No Wobble Griswold Cast Iron Red Porcelain # 107 Shallow SkilletAntique Griswold #8 Self Basting Skillet / Cover Lid Wagner Cast Iron Shallow Skillet Pan Ca. 1920's, Seasoned#1 Favorite Piqua Ware Cast Iron SkilletVintage Cast Iron Double Skillet Griddle Chicken Fryer & Fitted Skillet Lid #8Old Erie Muffin Popover Pan Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Vtg Antique Excellent!Griswold Cast Iron Chicken 777 Skillet And 1098 Lid/cover Sits Flat # 8 Griswold Erie Pa Skillet Large Block Logo & Raised Letter Cover BeautifulVintage Griswold Cast Iron Breakfast Skillet 665 C Large Block Logo *nice* *nr*Wagner #12 Cast Iron Skillet "wagnerware" Sidney -o- 1062 Heat Ring Revere Ware Copper Bottom Pots Pan Fry Skillet Stock Pot 9 Piece Set Insert Pan!Griswold~antique 9.75" C.iron "erie" Skillet W/ring & Large Slant Logo (#7~701a)#8 Griswold, 704k , Cast Iron Skillet, Flat Bottom, Largelogo-sits Flat-Griswold Erie Cast Iron 8 Skillet Pan Slant Logo 704 H