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Grady Britt, Lodge Cast Iron Collector

Grady Britt, Lodge Cast Iron Collector

Grady Britt of Raleigh, North Carolina, is a long-time Lodge cast iron collector. While he also has pieces by many other manufacturers – notably Griswold – the focus of his study and his collection is on Lodge cast iron.

Grady and Jean Britt

Linda and I visited Grady and Jean in September 2018 to see Grady’s vintage and antique cast iron collection. Grady and Jean Britt in a beautiful art-filled home surrounded by woods and backing up to Umstead state park.  It is a very peaceful setting.

Grady and Jean are both retired. Grady worked for years for IBM as a systems engineer, and Jean as a grade-school teacher.  They each have two adult children, and between them they have 9 grandchildren.

Grady Britt vintage antique cast iron cookware collect collection collector linda lamb north carolina old antique vintage cookware griswold lodge filley
Grady Britt.
Jean Britt. My Maltese dog, Maisie, is watching Jean intently, hoping she drops a crumb of food onto the floor. Notice the folk art over the doorway.
moset mose tollover folk art painting angel
One of several original paintings by Mose Tolliver in Grady and Jean’s home. Grady has a number of pieces of folk and street art.
Painting on old cabinet door by Grady’s son Chris. It depicts the gravesite of artist Jean-Michel Basquait in New York, which Chris had visited. I am a Basquait fan, and am captivated by this work. Not to mention the Griswold surrounding it…
Nook in home with Griswold pieces including loaf pan, Quaker ware, griddles, heart/star waffle irons. A favorite of Grady’s – the Griswold loaf pan – is shown between the two Quaker ware pieces hanging on the wall near the bottom of the photo. Original painting by Grady’s son above the iron.

Grady’s entry and background in the world of cast iron collecting

Grady has been collecting vintage cast iron since 1993. A family member’s cast iron waffle iron had piqued his interest. He began looking for a waffle iron for himself. Before you know it, he was collecting.

Grady went to a bookstore and found a book about old cast iron cookware. He found contact information for some of the people whose pieces were photographed in the book. Dr. Joe Noto of North Carolina was one of them.

At the time, “Dr. Joe” was the President of the Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association (“GCICA”), a national club for cast iron collectors. Grady called Dr. Joe. He learned that GCICA had an annual convention, and that he had just missed one in Charlotte, North Carolina. The next one was to be held in Erie, Pennsylvania, the original home of the Griswold Manufacturing Company.

Grady talking to us as Linda took notes and I snapped photos.

Grady went to the GCICA convention in Erie in 1997. He enjoyed meeting with and learning from others who had the same interest in the old iron.

Since that first convention, Grady has attended many of the annual conventions. He has been to conventions held by both national groups – GCICA and the Wagner and Griswold Society (“WAGS”).

Grady is active in both groups. He has given a “table talk” about Lodge to the GCICA group, and he organized the 2015 WAGS convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Camp oven lid commissioned by WAGS. The lid fits both a Griswold and a Wagner no. 10 camp oven.

Grady’s involvement in Lodge Cast Iron

The WAGS group toured the Lodge plant in South Pittsburg, Tennessee as part of their 2015 convention. Grady has toured the Lodge foundry three times, even though Lodge does not offer tours of their foundry to the public except during the annual national cornbread festival.1

Grady has also met with two of Lodge founder Joseph Lodge’s great grandchildren: Bob Kellerman, Lodge CEO Emeritus, and Carolyn King Kellermann Millhiser. Ms. Millhiser lives in the home that Joseph Lodge built at the corner of Magnolia and Third in South Pittsburg. Grady had the privilege of visiting with Ms. Millhiser at the home and viewing her collection.

joseph lodge home south pittsburg tennessee 3rd magnolia carolyn millhiser cast iron family
The home that Joseph Lodge built in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Small shelter behind the Joseph Lodge home. Some say it was a “cooking house.”
Old flagstone sidewalk alongside the home.

Grady focuses his collection on Lodge pieces because because he “just love[s] their stuff.” He is a Southerner and he likes it that Lodge is a Southern company. He also appreciates that Lodge is reasonably-priced.

I asked Grady what his favorite piece was, but he couldn’t narrow it down to just one. When I asked him what his three favorites were, however, he named them: the Lodge Acorn pan, Griswold loaf pan with lid, and toy Griswold waffle iron with base.

grady britt lodge acorn gem muffin corn bread pan penis cast iron old antique vintage
Grady holding the Lodge “Acorn” pan.
griswold 0 waffle iron toy small miniature tiny old antique vintage cast iron waffle iron grady britt collection
Griswold toy waffle iron with low base bailed handle.

Grady’s Blacklock pieces

Grady showed us a Blacklock piece 2 that was pictured in the January/February 2018 edition of Southern Cast Iron magazine. It was the cover to a teakettle.

Grady had two of these Blacklock teakettle covers. He placed one of them on an unmarked teakettle. It fit perfectly. Grady could not say with certainty that the teakettle it a Blacklock piece, but he is comfortable in his own mind that it likely is, as the cover fit the teakettle so well.3

blacklock lodge tea kettle teakettle teapot pot old antique vintage cast iron wire handle brady gritt collection
Blacklock lid on tea kettle, and second lid.

blacklock lodge tea kettle teakettle teapot pot old antique vintage cast iron wire handle brady gritt collection

Grady’s Sweet Shed

We went outdoors to Grady’s shed after we toured and photographed some of the iron on the main level of the house. Grady said that Jean wouldn’t recognize the inside of the shed when she saw it, as Grady had been organizing in preparation for our visit. That was true; Jean was surprised when she came out and saw the neatly-organized shed.

Grady’s sweet shed.
Hanging on the outside of Grady’s shed. Grady said this was his favorite skillet.
Note the tobacco cutters in the upper right of this photo. Tobacco cutters are of particular interest to Grady. Oddly enough, this is apparently the only photo I took of any of Grady’s tobacco cutters despite having taken close to 500 photos during our visit!

Lodge Novelty Items

Grady enjoys talking iron – after 5 hours of showing us his collection, he seemed disappointed as we readied to leave. I was trying to graciously sidle out the door (to eat lunch at a fun BBQ place that Grady and Jean recommended, and where I had my first-ever hushpuppy) when Grady exclaimed, “OH!” He hurried into another room and retrieved three beautiful old unmarked cast iron dogs, which he believes were likely made by Lodge during the 30’s when Lodge made novelty items to keep the foundry afloat.

old antique vintage cast iron scotty scottie dog greyhound whippet boston terrier unmarked lodge
Of all the pieces I saw at Grady’s home, this is the one I would have most liked to take home. I love this little dog. Second would have been his son’s Basquait painting.

old antique vintage cast iron scotty scottie dog greyhound whippet boston terrier unmarked lodge

Although Linda and I were exhausted, we had the impression that Grady could have continued for hours; showing us pieces and discussing their variations and pointing out unique characteristics. Grady surely loves his iron.

My first ever hushpuppy, at the “Ole Time” barbeque. The server set them on the table as we sat down; I had to ask her what they were.

Through our conversations with Grady and John Clough, as well as our special Lodge foundry tour, I learned more about Lodge cast iron in a week than I had known in my almost-10 years of involvement in vintage cast iron cookware. What an amazing whirlwind of a week!

A small selection from the cast iron collection of Grady Britt

  1. Linda and I were thrilled to tour the plant in September 2018. My article about our tour  can be found here.
  2. Blacklock was the predecessor to Lodge.
  3. Blacklock pieces are tricky to identify. Blacklock was in production for just a short time, and the foundry was destroyed by fire in 1910. Because of that, there are few records available to assist in positively identifying Blacklock pieces. Unless a piece is marked “Blacklock,” the best one can say is that it “looks like,” “could be,” or “might be” a Blacklock.

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