As a follow-up to our last post on cast iron, today we are highlighting the true legends of the cast iron industry, and providing some tips on how to identify them.

The two main gold standards of antique cast iron cookware are Wagner and Griswold. The Griswold company, originally Selden & Griswold, was the first major commercial cast-iron cookware company, founded in 1865. Wagner did not arrive on the scene until almost three decades later, in 1891.

The earliest, and most rare, Griswold skillets can be identified by the Selden & Griswold logo, while later models bear logos such as ERIE, “ERIE,” a rare spider in a web emblem,  ERIE written in a diamond, and the later and more commonly seen GRISWOLD within a cross, within a circle.You can recognize a Wagner by the “Wagner” name, usually in quotation marks, with the earliest logos also accompanied by “Sidney, Ohio” or “Sidney O.” on the bottom.

A later Griswold logo, from flickr user I Believe I Can Fry

But beware of imitations or poor reproductions: By the late 1950s Wagner had acquired all rights to Griswold and cast iron products were stamped with both companies’ names. These pieces are considered taboo to many serious collectors, also because much of the pure iron ore around Lake Erie had been depleted, and other metals were added. Any product without Erie included in the logo is usually not associated with Griswold.

The Wagner company also celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1965 and released skillets with the emblem “Wagner 1891 Original,” but these are obviously from the 1990s, and are not originals.