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 Vintage Antique #14 Skillet Frying Pan Pn 716 Very RareVintage # 12 Wagner Cast Iron SkilletVintage Griswold #5 Skillet Lid-lg Logo-erie Pa.-great Condition-htfGriswold Erie Cast Iron Vintage Antique #10 Skillet Frying Pan Pn 716 NiceVintage Griswold # 14 Cast Iron 15 1/4 Inch Skillet (w/ Ghost Mark)Antique Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan Restored # 10 Erie2 Vintage Griswold Cast Iron Steak Platter Skillet #349 Size 11 3/4 7 3/4 PlateBeautiful Vintage Antique C.h.f Hammered Pouring Cast Iron Skillet With Lid 1889Griswold Cast Iron #14 Large Block Logo Epu Skillet With Heat Ring Pn 718Griswold Erie Cast Iron Vintage Breakfast Skillet Frying Pan Pn 665 B NiceGriswold Erie Cast Iron Vintage #8 Square Fry Skillet Frying Pan Pn 2108 NiceGriswold Erie Cast Iron Vintage Antique #2 Skillet Frying Pan Pn 703 NiceVintage Victor Griswold #9 Skillet 723b Cast Iron Erie PaLot Of 3 Cop-r-chef Cpr Skillet & Saut All Clad Copper Stainless Cookware W LidField Company Skillet No. 10 #10 Cast Iron PanGriswold Slant Logo #11 Cast Iron SkilletVintage Griswold No. 12 Skillet 719 D With Heat Ring Erie, PaVintage-dansk-kobenstyle-teal-enamel-stock-pot-3.5 Qt Pan & 10" Skillet-trivet Pre-griswold "erie" No. 12 Skillet First Series Scooped Handle C. 1880-86 Vintage Griswold Cast Iron Skillet No 10 #716 Large Block LogoGriswold Cast Iron #12 Small Logo Skillet / Heat RingVintage Griswold Cast Iron 80 Hinged Double Skillet # 1102 & 1103 + Trivet9 Pc. Paul Revere 1801 Set Copper Pans, Skillets, Sauce Pans, Stock Pot, Au GraGriswold No. 8 Deep Skillet With High Dome Cover Sm TmVintage Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan #9 Large Block LogoGriswold No 8 Self Basting Skillet Cover 1925 1920 Cast Iron Enamel ErieVtg Antique Hammered Cast Iron Skillet With Lid 89a Heavy Flat BaseGriswold No 9 Skillet W Orig No9 Self Basting Cover 469Griswold # 6 Skillet ~ Large Block Logo ~ Smooth Bottom Epu 699j Cast Iron CleanVtg Griswold # 7 # 8 Cast Iron Skillets Block Logo 704 BWilliams Sonoma Copper Skillet Frying Pan Cookware Bronze Handle Saute 10"#8 Griswold Cast Iron Self Basting Skillet Cover Lid, P/n 468Rare Antique Miami #9 By Favorite Cast Iron Skillet Great Shape A+Griswold #11 Cast Iron Skillet (717 B) Heat Ring- Epu BlockGriswold # 8 Cast Iron Skillet W/ Heat Ring- Vintage 1920's-restored#8 Griswold Large Slant Logo Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan W/ Heat Ring, 704gWagner Ware Cast Iron # 10 Drip Drop Skillet Lid Embossed Letters # 1070Griswold #8 Cast Iron Skillet & Lid Chicken Pan 777 + Self Basting Lid 1098bGriswold Erie Cast Iron Vintage #10 Extra Deep Skillet Cover Lid High Pn 779 Griswold No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet Large Block Logo 704 R Vintage Cast Iron Skillet No. 4 Griswold Large Logo P/n 702 Vintage Griswold 12 Block Letter Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan With Heat RingGriswold Cast Iron Lot Skillet And Griddle Vintage Griswold #8 G Large Slant Logo Cast Iron Heat Ring SkilletVintage Griswold Slant #9 Cast Iron Skillet (1906-1912)Griswold #9 Large Slant Skillet "erie" With Heat RingMartin ( King Stove And Range Co. No 8 Cast Iron Shallow SkilletLe Creuset #26 Cast Iron 10 1/2" Blue Enamel Skillet Frying Pan Double PourRestored Wagner Ware 1058 M Cast Iron # 8 Skillet 10 1/2" Usa Cooking CampingGriswold No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet Pn 716e Small Block Erie, PaVintage Griswold Cast Iron Skillet #5 W/large Block Logo, 724, Erie, Pa Fry PanVintage Revere Ware Copper Clad Stainless Omelet Pan Skillet ProfessionalGriswold Cast Iron #7 Large Block Logo Smooth Bottom Skillet Pn 701Vintage Cast Iron Wagner Ware Square Skillet & Small Round Skillet ~ SeasonedGriswold Cast Iron #0 Toy Skillet P/n 562 & P/n 53 Square Egg SkilletC1906-1920 Griswold No. 3 Cast Iron Skillet Pan Slanted Logo Heat RingGriswold #9 Cast Iron Self Basting Skillet Cover Low DomeVintage Wagner Ware Sidney O #12 Stylized Logo Cast Iron Skillet#5 Wapak Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan W/ Heat RingVintage Wapak Indian Head #8 Cast Iron Skillet