You’ve stumbled across an awesome-looking rack marked “Griswold” at a flea market or antique store. You’re thrilled because the price is $40. You’ve seen Griswold racks sell on eBay for more than $100.
Reproduction Griswold Racks
Before you spend any of your hard-earned cash, you need to determine whether the rack you are considering is an authentic rack made by Griswold or a reproduction made by Colonial Tin Works.
In around 2004 Colonial Tin Works reproduced the Griswold racks and advertised them in Antique Trader for sale. They were billed as an “outstanding reproduction” and sold wholesale only; $14.90 for two. 1
The Griswold racks were not the only collectible pieces reproduced by Colonial Tin Works back in the day. Although I was unable to locate the actual ad for the reproduction “Griswold” racks from Antique Trader archives,2 I did find another Antique Trader ad from Colonial Tin Works offering reproduction antique Christmas decorations for sale to wholesalers. It was published in the November 10, 2004 edition.
Fantasy Pieces vs. Reproductions
I’ve written before about the danger of so-called “fantasy pieces.” A fantasy piece can be loosely defined as a situation where a company or person makes a reproduction of an authentic piece and doesn’t advertise it as authentic. The danger, of course, that when the piece changes hands, it may be billed as authentic and an unsuspecting buyer can be taken.
In this instance, Colonial Tin Works clearly billed the rack as an “outstanding reproduction of a rare Griswold fry pan display.” It thus could be considered a “fantasy piece.” However, as with the Griswold “silver pup” scandal, the reproduction rack consistently pops up for sale and is billed as an authentic Griswold rack.
Is it Authentic or a Reproduction?
How can you tell whether the rack you are examining is an authentic Griswold or one of the fantasy pieces made by Colonial Tin Works?
Here’s an eBay listing that attempts to inform potential purchasers of the way to tell an authentic Griswold rack from the reproduction. This is a very clever listing. Hopefully, it catches the attention of potential buyers of the reproductions!
Authentic Griswold Rack
Here are photos of an authentic Griswold skillet rack.3
Reproduction Griswold Skillet Rack
It wasn’t hard to find photos of the reproduction skillet rack. A quick google search for “Griswold skillet rack” turned up plenty of reproductions.
Here are photos from a “Live Auctioneers” listing of a reproduction rack. The listing says that it sold for $200.
Here is another fake Griswold rack; from Worthpoint. Selling price unknown.
What to look for
- The size of the rubber feet covers. They are not always present on old racks, as the old rubber could crack and fall off. If the original rubber feet covers are present, the original authentic rack has shorter black rubber feet. The reproduction racks have longer rubber feet covers. This is not determinative, however, as the original feet covers could have fallen off and been replaced by a prior owner.
- The Griswold pattern number – 1054 – is present on the back of the nameplate of the authentic rack, as well as “PATENT
APPLD. FOR.” It is not present on the reproduction.
- A magnet will stick to the nameplate on the authentic rack. A magnet will not stick to the nameplate of the reproduction.
cross barson the reproductions have “globs” at each end where they attach. These globs are not present on an authentic Griswold rack.
And there you have it. With your newfound expertise in telling a reproduction Griswold rack from an authentic one, you’ll be a savvy shopper!
- A copy of the advertisement is pictured on a page in the forum of the Wagner and Griswold Society – one of the two cast iron collector’s groups in the United States.
- Many thanks to Karen Knapstein, then-editor of Antique Trader, for her efforts in trying to help me locate the original ad.
- Photos courtesy etsy seller AppleysVintage. Used with permission.