I had the opportunity in September to spend some time with Joe and Nancy Zawadowski of Durham, North Carolina. Joe has a wide and interesting variety of things that he collects (including animal skulls), but I was particularly interested to see his collection of vintage and antique cast iron pups. The small (1-5/8″ tall) pups were used as advertising promotions by companies including the Griswold Manufacturing Company. It is posited that Griswold manufactured their pups in 1937 and 1951. 1 3000 pups were produced by Griswold in 1951. 2,000 of these 3,000 pups were handed out by Griswold employees during a bicentennial parade in Erie, Pennsylvania (home of Griswold).2 The remainder were given to loyal customers and employees. 3
I have seen a photograph where employees were walking alongside the Griswold float, handing out the pups to parade-watchers.
Reproduction Griswold pups are abundant, and an unwary consumer can easily be duped into paying hundreds of dollars (I paid $275 to pup collector Doris Mosier for my beautiful authentic Griswold pup in 2014 or 2015) for a pup that is marked with the Griswold name, but is not actually a pup manufactured by Griswold. Joe schooled me on how to tell the difference between an authentic and reproduction pup. I was also helped along by reading the GCICA forum.
A quick search on eBay that I did as I was writing this article shows all pups presently advertised as “Griswold Pup” are reproductions. I also did an “advanced search” on eBay which allows you to look back at sold items for the past 90 days, and saw that 28 pups were sold that had the words “Griswold” and “pup” contained in the title listing. Some were not represented to be authentic Griswold pups (this is called called “keyword spamming” where a seller puts the name – i.e. Griswold – in the title although not claiming it to be a Griswold, in hopes that a buyer will find it during a search for “Griswold pup.”). Of the 28 sold pups, one appeared to be authentic (black Japanned finish) and sold for $97.99. A black iron one which also appeared to be authentic sold for $200 in a “Buy it Now” listing.
Joe showed me an authentic and reproduction Griswold pup, and explained the differences. So, from collector Joe Zawadowski’s mouth to my blog post, here’s a little primer to help you determine whether a pup with the Griswold name on it is real or a reproduction. Credit also to Marjorie Blue, who helped explain the differences between a real and reproduction Griswold pup on the GCICA Facebook page, which is reprinted in the GCICA website forum.
Real or Repro?
- An authentic Griswold pup will always have the words GRISWOLD and PUP incised on its back in clear lettering. If the lettering is sloppy, it’s not Griswold.
- An authentic Griswold pup has the words incised on its back. It does not have raised lettering.
- The spacing between GRISWOLD and PUP is greater on an authentic pup than that commonly seen on reproductions. Sometimes you can see the word HINES as a “ghost mark” on an authentic Griswold.4
- The top of the head on an authentic Griswold pup is more rounded than that on a reproduction.
- The casting on an authentic Griswold is – as is a hallmark of Griswold – smooth. Reproductions vary in smoothness.
- An authentic Griswold will have either a 30 incised on the back of its head or nothing incised on its head. The authentic Griswold ones that do not have the number 30 are the pups made in the earlier (~1937) run. 5 Reproductions may have nothing on the back of the head, numbers (typically not 30 – or if so, the 30 is askew), or an infinity symbol.
- An authentic Griswold pup is 1-5/8″ tall.
- An authentic Griswold pup does not have defined toes on its paws.
- The tail on an authentic Griswold is “smoothed” on the underside to render an appearance of a slightly upturned tail.
- Authentic Griswold pups come in black iron, grey-green finish (called the “grey ghost”), black Japanned iron, and aluminum.
Pups are really fun to collect; there are all sorts of them out there! I hope that this little guide will help you as you venture into the wild wild world of Griswold pups!
- Joe is not convinced that these dates are accurate. The “Blue Book” by Smith and Wafford sets the dates as 1937 and 1951.
- Harned, Griswold Cast Collectibles History & Values, p. 74 (1991).
- W. Griswold, Griswold Point: History from the Mouth of the Connecticut River (2014).
- Presumably, Griswold used a Hines pattern or pup to create some of their pups; hence the ghost mark. Hines was an Ohio company that manufactured “engineered flasks and supplementary molding equipment,” per a Hines sign in Joe Zawadowski’s possession.
- Per Dave Lange, a Griswold collector. Dave’s father worked at Griswold. Dave states on the GCICA forum that a man who worked with his father at Griswold verified that the pups without the 30 on the back of the head were from the earlier run. They are much harder to find than those with the 30 on the back of the head.