A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GRISWOLD MANUFACTURING COMPANY OF ERIE, PA, AS IT PERTAINS TO COLLECTORS OF CAST IRON COOKWARE
by Doris Mosier
In 1865, two Erie families associated by marriage, joined in a modest venture to manufacture door hinges. The Selden and Griswold union paved the way for The Griswold Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, recognized world wide as producers of fine cast iron products, especially cookware.
Between 1865 and 1957 when they closed production of the plant at the corner of 12th and Raspberry Street, their line of cookware had been sold and used around the world. Their designers and engineers produced many patents spanning almost 100 years of manufacture. Before the turn of the 20th century, they added cast aluminum products to their line. In the 1920’s they enameled some cookware and by the 1930’s they offered electric items to their product list. They produced commercial pieces for use in restaurants.
The company was in trouble by the 1940’s for a variety of reasons. Many products were being introduced by other cookware companies that seemed more attractive to modern cooks. Problems within the company between management and employees widened, the quality of the products seemed to decline, and in 1957 the doors of GMC closed leaving 60+ employees without jobs.
While most of the GMC cookware is a desired collectible, almost all collectors avoid the small Griswold logo era. The former quality and casting isn’t there, for the most part. The small emblem items are good for users of cast iron because they don’t have the price tag of the collectibles and are great for function. There seems to be a much larger demand for cast iron, compared to those seeking cast aluminum, enameled, electric, or plated pieces. Eventually, Griswold’s strongest competitor, The Wagner Manufacturing Company of Sydney, Ohio, ended up with ownership of their molds. The “double stamped” Wagner/Griswold emblems are not considered important collector’s items, nor are the items that say Griswold but were really manufactured in Sydney, Ohio by Wagner.
Some of the overlapping logos produced at the foundry included these:
1865-1883 Selden & Griswold
1865-1909 ERIE or “ERIE”
1874-1905 Spider and Web
1884-1912 GRISWOLD’S ERIE
1884-1909 Diamond (with ERIE inside the diamond)
1897-1920 Griswold Manufacturing Company (italic lettering, large cross logo)
1919-1940 Griswold Manufacturing Company (block lettering, large cross logo)
1937-1957 Griswold (block lettering, small cross logo)
Some other trademarks include:
Tite Top Dutch Oven
Tite Top Baster