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Tips for the Griswold Cast Iron Cookware Collector

Tips for the Griswold Cast Iron Cookware Collector


By Doris Mosier


  1. All items manufactured by Griswold are not marked Griswold.Many items Griswold made are marked Erie, “Erie”, Victor, Best Made, Good Health, Puritan, American, etc.  Some items only have a pattern number and others totally unmarked.  Some are marked Eldorado, Acme, Leo, Classic, Triumph, Duke, Merit, Alfred Andressen, Western Importing, and Seldon.


  1. Some Griswold items are extremely high in price due to supply and demand.When the demand of collectors exceeds the supply, the prices rise.  Some Griswold items are extremely scarce but relatively inexpensive because of the low collector demand.  Example—aluminum versions of the #27 and #28 muffin pans which are far less common will sell for about half the value of than their cast iron counterparts.


  1. There is little reliable information available for many Griswold items. Most advanced collectors are willing to share their knowledge and experience.  There are also many collectors that specialize in specific areas, like waffle irons or miniatures.  Most of these experts are willing to share their knowledge.  Ask or call or email or write.  The contacts are in your annual directory.  If you’re on the internet, visit the web site, register, and login to the forum.  Ask questions there and get assistance.  It is set up for dialogue.


  1. It is still possible to find rare Griswold items at bargain prices, even with the large number of collectors.Learn what to look for and then look.  There are many recent examples, such as finding a #15 fish skillet with lid for $20 at a yard sale.  Now that’s a bargain!


  1. When considering purchasing items with large amounts of baked-on grease, etc. (which is often the case at flea markets and yard sales), be aware that damage such as burning, pitting, and cracks can be lurking beneath.Inspect the items as carefully as you can and if you make the purchase, be aware that you are taking some risk.


  1. Buy catalogue reprints and price guides.The pictures and data are invaluable.  Read [the newsletter of the GCICA] and keep your copies in a binder for future reference.  This newsletter will put you in touch with other collectors, in addition to getting information not found elsewhere.  Tune in to the web site, https://gcica.org which has a wealth of information.  Acquaint yourself with other collectors by attending regional meets and the national convention.  There is no substitute for participation.  Make friends among the collectors and extend your communications about vintage cookware by keeping in touch with them.


  1. Preview auction items carefully.Write down quality items you are interested in bidding on, but put a limit for yourself beside each item.  Don’t exceed your limit in the competition of bidding.


  1. If a friend or acquaintance at an auction wants the same piece you do, don’t back off from bidding.And don’t expect him/her to back off either.


  1. Try to buy from reputable dealers who guarantee the items to be as represented.


  1. Avoid phone bidding wars.Just say no to a deal where the seller doesn’t know what he wants for the item.  A reputable seller will state the price wanted.  All you, as potential buyer, needs to decide is if you want to pay the price.  A “bid” seeker will use your “bid” in the next phone call to get a higher price.


  1. Buying by phone can be a big asset to your collection while saving you miles of expensive travel and time.Buy from known reputable dealers or ones recommended by trusted friends who have dealt with the dealer.  Ask pertinent questions about the specific logo, where writing occurs (like inside the lid), condition, defects, how it will be packed, insured, and shipped, who will pay the shipping, and how/when payment is to be handled.


  1. Scarce and rare items should continue to appreciate or at least remain constant in value.Common items will not likely appreciate much in value as the years pass.


  1. Remember that “price guides” are only guides, and not the final word in pricing.Some guides have mistakes, overpriced pieces and underpriced pieces.


  1. Study all the reference books you can.You may discover a rare unmarked item by studying catalogue pictures or drawings.


  1. Damaged cast iron is worth less than undamaged cast iron, whether you are buying it or selling it.


  1. If you buy a piece of cast iron with a part missing, you may wait years to locate the rest of it.For example, if you buy the bottom half of a double broiler, you won’t likely ever find the top for it as they were easily broken.  However, if the piece is priced right, you may want to buy it anyway and take a chance.


  1. Skillets marked in inches are NOT Griswold, even if the logo says so.


  1. A “Griswold” mortar with a screw in the base is a reproduction.


  1. Keep a trusted collector’s phone number handy to call for advice when you are stymied. Don’t abuse the privilege.


  1. Keep active in a collector’s network.


  1. Be helpful to new collectors.


  1. Keep abreast of price fluctuations.


  1. If you don’t have room for all of the items in a series, you might try to collect one or two, like the largest or smallest of the series to show a representative sample.


  1. Don’t be coy.When a salesperson in an antique store asks to help, tell the person you’re interested in Griswold (or whatever brand of cast iron cookware that you want). Often, they have rare or small items where you’d overlook or never see on your own.


  1. The most common mistake that the beginning collector makes is getting caught up in a “Griswold Mania”.“Griswold Mania” is acquiring all Griswold items that can be found. This leads to the mistake of overpaying for common items such as #8 skillets, #8 waffle irons, #8 Dutch ovens, #273 corn stick pans, etc.


  1. Always inspect a piece that you are anticipating to purchase closely for cracks, pitting, discoloration or warp age .Avoid buying any pieces in such condition.


  1. After checking closely for cracks, ring the piece with a knife, allen wrench, hex key or any small metal object, to see if it rings clear and true, like a bell.If it sounds hollow, pass up the sale.


  1. Set the piece, whether it be a skillet or muffin pan, etc., on a flat surface and be sure it does not wobble.If there is any warping, don’t buy it.


  1. Avoid purchasing any piece that is painted or heavily encrusted with carbon without first being sure you have a money back guarantee should you find damage after it is cleaned.Painted pieces can be painted for a very good reason and that is because they have very serious defects which the seller is trying to hide.


  1. You are better off to spend $300 for an unusual piece than to pay $30 for 10 common pieces because in the long run, what yu are left with are still 10 common pieces worth $30 (or less).The Uncommon $300 piece will likely double in value with the passage of time.


  1. Look very carefully at the patina and sheen of the metal and the weight of the pan or piece that you are contemplating buying as they are your best tip-off as to whether it is a reproduction.


  1. Don’t clean your pieces by burning them in a fire as you run the risk that they will warp or crack.Aluminum pieces will clean very nicely in a self-cleaning oven once you remove any wooden or plastic parts which could disintegrate in the oven. After cleaning, a light buffing on a cloth wheel with jewelers rouge will do wonders.


  1. Don’t buy pieces that are heavily pitted, rusted, or sand blasted.They have no value to a serious collector.


  1. Buyers, when buying cast iron, always ask for and receive an accurate description.When buying by mail, get a guarantee and return policy.  When buying at a mall, always check to find if the dealer is somewhere in the mall.  This will sometimes save you money as the dealer will give you a bigger discount than a mall worker would. Know your dealer.  If he finds you a good item, praise him.  If he misrepresents what he sells, let the world know.


  1. Sellers, offer a satisfaction ormoney back policy.  Describe any defect or repair before selling rather than risk damaging your reputation or friendship.  Be fair and honest in your dealings.




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