If you are looking for something new to collect, then cast iron may offer a change of pace for you. The finest cast iron was made by mainly two companies. Griswold Manufacturing was located in Erie, Pennsylvania. They operated from 1865 to 1957. Griswold pieces are marked with a circle and inside the circle is a large cross. It sort of reminds you of the Red Cross. Anyway, across this cross are the letters “Griswold”. There are at least three versions of this mark. Griswold also had other marks like one with a diamond and the name Griswold on it. One very interesting mark was one that looks like a spider web with a spider in the center of it. Wagner Ware Manufacturing opened in 1891 in Sidney, Ohio. Griswold Manufacturing sold their housewares division to Wagner in 1957. Their moulds were transferred to the Sidney plant. Several years later the Randell Corporation purchased Wagner and they then merged into the General Housewares Corporation. The Wagner name is still being used on cookware today. Some of the marks are Sidney, Wagner Sidney and Wagner Ware Sidney.
While most people think of cast iron in the form of frying pans, there were actually a very large number of different pieces. Just to give you an idea of how fast an collection could be gathered for use in the kitchen, we have a partial list of: ashtray, grill, boilers, boot jacks, bowls, casseroles, chicken fryers, bean pot, Dutch oven, kettles, loaf pan, stove dampers, egg poacher, grates, griddles, sad irons, mail boxes, molds, muffin pan, pots, racks, roaster, trivet, tobacco cutter and corn stick pan. You get the idea now, a lot of different items. But you think, what a minute, I don’t have a lot of room but collecting cast iron could be interesting. You are in luck since there were some special small items made that are fun to find.
Each of these companies made small novelty items. Probably the cutest is images of our favorite family pets. They probably served as paperweights on a desk. The pup is 1.5” tall and has floppy ears. The cat still has its original white paint on it. She has also has a pink bow around her neck and is 2” tall. The black scottie dog is 2” tall. There is a small hole on its back to hold a pencil or pen. The drunk holding on to the light pole is pretty amusing. It is 4.25” tall. We have found two different types of bells. The bell on the left is 3” tall replica of the liberty bell. The bell on the right is 6.75” tall and has wood handle. This bell would sit on the teacher’s desk for her to ring to announce the start and end of class. There are also lots of different types of banks and toys. These are a few of the delightful pieces of small cast iron that can be found today. Be on the look out for other charming and yet small examples of cast iron. Enjoy the hunt!