Collecting Griswold Items

Collecting Griswold red enamels from the Erie, Pa based company. A description of several unusual pieces, what they are worth and were to find Griswold.

I have been an avid red and white enamel Griswold collector for many years. It all started when my Grandmother gave me an ashtray shaped like a tiny frying pan. My great uncle had worked for the Griswold Company in Erie, Pennsylvania, and he had given it to her. She in turn gave it to me, which started me on my way to collecting this unusual Griswold.

The Griswold Company was started in Erie around 1884, at the end of the Civil War, and continued operations until they were purchased in 1957. During the 1893 World's Fair the company won five awards for their cast iron cookware. While some Griswold was still manufactured in the 60's and 70's, it was not made in Erie, and the quality dropped.

Griswold is considered as some of the most collectible cast iron cookware for several reasons, such as the quality of the casting, the variety of patterns and the amount of variations that exist in some of the patterns. Also the most common Griswold is the black cast iron, but my collection has a red and white enamel coating. The inside of the pans are white and the outside is red. Also most Griswold pans are still able to be used today. I use mine just about every day for frying, or baking. Although with the enameled pans, you must be careful not to use any that are chipping. Basically my pieces are traditional cast iron, but a process called enameling was used on these pieces. Enameling is a process by which glass is fired to the metal. This is why it is important to not use chipped pieces, you would basically be adding glass to your foods. I just have my chipped pieces hanging on the wall of my kitchen in an attractive display. And since chipped pieces are not worth as much money, these make a great and inexpensive decorating item.

One of the most interesting and sometimes frustrating thing about a Griswold piece is that a minor variation can mean the difference between an uncommon piece and a common one. For example; a skillet with the large "block" logo and a raised "heat ring" on the bottom is worth several times more what the same sized skillet with the "slant" logo.

All Griswold can easily be detected from other cast pieces, on the skillets there is a circle/wheel type looking logo on the bottom with either Griswold or Erie, Pa. stamped into the metal. Other pieces may just have the Griswold or Erie, Pa. stamped somewhere on the back. Also the name or number of the piece is displayed, on the back of other pieces.

While there are too many Griswold pieces to mention, the list would go on forever, some of the more popular items included; skillets (in numerous sizes and shapes), waffle irons, roasting pans, griddles, ashtrays, other miniatures, Dutch ovens, kettles, muffin or gem pans, stove dampers, and so much more. As I mentioned before, each piece is imprinted with the Griswold, Erie Pa. logo. Also many of the pieces are numbered, such as the different size of skillets have different numbers. This is were the value of the pieces changes. For example while most muffin pans are worth $25.00, if you find a #13, #26 or #2800, the price jumps to $1800.00. A #13 skillet sells for $1000.00 and a #1 for $3500.00, but other numbered skillets can be purchased for around $30.00. In the Dutch oven category, the numbers 6, 11 or 12 cost around $300.00. So as you can see there is a great variation in price.

While Griswold is no longer manufactured, you can still find these pieces. While easier to find on the east coast, online auctions have made it easy for someone anywhere in the country to own some of these classic pieces. When I looked on E-bay (an online auction), they had over 500 pieces up for sale. Also be sure to check area auctions, flea markets, antique dealers and yard sales. Some of these pieces can be picked up for a small fraction of what they are really worth. My ashtray, which was a gift, can be resold for $65.00. My parents purchased a corn muffin pan for me for several dollars about ten years ago at a flea market. This piece is rather unusual since the muffin cups actually look like ears of corn. This piece is now worth around $100.00 in the red and white enamel, and I actually have never seen another one in this color.

There also many books available on Griswold pieces and prices. The best place to start is your local library. While there are many books just on Griswold itself, many antique identification and pricing guides will have these pieces listed.

If nothing else, if you find a Griswold piece at an inexpensive price, pick it up as an investment. Who knows what it will be worth in several years.

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