The Griswold Story
In 1865, two Erie, PA families associated by marriage founded the Selden & Griswold Company to manufacture door hinges. The original three partners were Matthew Griswold and two Selden brothers, John and Samuel. Griswold bought out his partners in 1883, and by 1887 the company name changed to the Griswold Manufacturing Company. It was soon recognized world wide as producers of fine cast iron products, especially cookware. During the 1893 World’s Fair the company won five awards for its cast iron cookware. That same year, Griswold also started producing cast aluminum cookware.
As early as the 1920’s, Griswold began producing cast iron pieces with colorful enamel finishes such as Canary Yellow, Jade Green, Mandarin Red, and Turquoise Blue. Additional colors were intruduced in the 1930’s and some Griswold pieces even had two-tone colors.
From the late 1800’s until 1930, some (but not all) Griswold cast iron cookware was nickel plated, and in the mid-1930’s many cast iron pieces featured a chromium finish. Griswold also introduced electrical cookware during the 1930’s, followed by cookware with a colorful porcelain finish in the 1940’s.
Griswold used a variety of logos and/or markings over the years, and often these overlapped in terms of the years during which they were used. As near as I can figure out from a variety of sources with thoroughly conflicting information, the following is a general guide to markings:
1865 - 1883 Selden and Griswold
1874 - 1905 raised spider in a web in the center bottom with incised arched 'Erie' along the curve of the skillet - see picture #1 below
1865 - 1909 ERIE
1884-1909 Diamond (with ERIE inside the diamond)
1884 - 1912 GRISWOLD'S 'ERIE'
1897 - 1920 italicized GRISWOLD in large cross and double circle, ERIE underneath in block capital letters - see picture #2 below
?? - 1920 italicized GRISWOLD in cross and double circle, ‘Erie, Penna.’ underneath
?? - 1920 italicized GRISWOLD in cross and double circle, ‘Erie, Penna, U.S.A.’ underneath - see picture #3 below
1919 - 1940 block letter GRISWOLD in large cross in the double circle, with or without ‘Erie PA USA’ or EPU (Erie, Penna., U.S.A.) below - see picture #4 below
1937-1957 block letter GRISWOLD in small cross in the double circle, with or without “Erie PA” in curved block letters below - see picture #5 below
Griswold also produced products under a variety of other trademarks including Tite Top Dutch Oven, Tite Top Baster, Kwik Bake, Aristocraft, Colonial, Victor, Du.Chro, and Classic.
During the 1940s, Griswold faced increasing financial difficulties due to competition from other companies such as Wagner, and by 1946 no members of the Griswold family were left in the firm. Ultimately Griswold closed the Erie, PA plant in 1957 and sold its molds, tooling, patterns, patents, proprietary rights, and trademark rights to Wagner the same year. Griswold pieces produced after 1957 by Wagner and others are not considered to be reproductions, but if a piece isn’t marked “Erie,” it wasn’t made in Erie, PA and is not a true Griswold.
Enormously popular among collectors today, Griswold pieces can have slight variations that affect their value. For instance, a skillet with the large block-lettered logo and a raised heat ring on the bottom is worth several times more than the same sized skillet with the italicized-lettered logo and no heat ring. Apparently the heat ring pieces are less common. Isn’t research fun?