Whether you need them for Halloween or a witches pot.
Or you intend to prepare amazing meals like the jambalaya rice while camping with friends cast iron cauldrons are not going out of style anytime soon.
After a wave of stainless steel and other cookware materials took over households and kitchens in America decades ago…
Cast iron cauldrons have found a way to stay relevant hundreds of years after their inception.
What is a cast-iron cauldron?
These are huge cooking pots made out of cast iron and are usually used for cooking directly over the fire.
They are high conductivity materials unlike steel and other modern cooking ware. Meaning they retain and can take enormous amounts of heat.
This is due to the cast iron properties from which they’re made.
If you love to cook in the wild or open then you need at least one saved away for your special occasion
Cast iron cauldrons are very functional. Their high durability and heat capacity make them sought after for and outside their culinary purposes.
If we consider durability, they reign supreme…
cauldrons could last decades if properly maintained, and can be passed down across generations.
Pretty cool huh?
Besides passing down Grandma’s amazing recipe… You can now pass along the pots she used to prepare those signature dishes.
Preserving legacy and family excellence to the next generation.
Bringing us to an important aspect of Cast iron Cauldrons.
For more than their properties and durability, their antique pieces are often the target of hobbyist collectors.
Antique Cast Iron Cauldrons
Most people confuse the word antique with vintage.
Although both are used interchangeably by people daily and can be very confusing to mean the same thing.
They are not.
Vintage simply means old (About 20 – 50 years past its prime.)
But the word Antique amongst collectors is used to refer to anything that dates back to the 19th or 20th century.
A vintage piece could be something made in the 70s for example.
But antiques are pieces that have lived a life span of about 59 – 200 years.
The most recurring group of people interested in most antiques and especially cast iron cauldrons are Collectors.
Backed up by two primary motives:
As a hobby.
For those obsessed with collecting, just for the love of rarities.
A way of expressing pure fandom, nostalgia, or connecting with the past.
Or to flip them for profit.
A pretty, cool, non-conventional way to grow and invest money.
Collectors would usually look around or comb through the internet for these antique cast iron pots, buy them at a good price and sell them for more.
And repeat the profitable cycle.
profitability layered on durability, and we can see why there are quite a several conversations going on in the antique cast iron space.
But our focus is on Cauldrons Or Pots.
These powerhouses, culturally relevant, metal pots, are severely sought out by collectors and households alike.
The history of cast-iron cauldron
These molten iron forged cooking wares go as far back as 220A.D China, at least 2000 years ago.
Gradually, they found their way into Europe ( most notably the Netherlands.)
The Dutch added some improvement to the forging technique using molds that were created with dry sand. This Dutch method of forging eventually led to them getting the moniker “Dutch Oven”.
They also have some interesting history in Japan. The Japanese used them back in the day as teapots. Given that the tea-drinking culture was very prominent in Japan.
The Japanese referred to cast iron tea referred to as ‘Tetsubin’
And tea drinkers prefer the taste of hot water from iron kettles to copper or whatever metal options.
The Tetsubin grew more influence
Some of which were crafted with various artistic designs, patterns, colors, and emblems
And have so, grown pretty popular amongst modern collectors.
Gradually, and through advanced metal casting techniques, they eventually became the ‘cast iron’ they’re known as these days and were further introduced to Americans.
No surprise that it spread across Europe, Asia, and North America so quickly though.
The cauldron’s durability coupled with its beautiful heat retention makes it a must-have in every kitchen hut, tent, or household.
Useful for making all sorts of delicacies like Pottage, Soups, Stews, Roast meat, or bread.
They were also pretty easy to clean and maintain.
Particularly through a process called seasoning.
Seasoning in simple terms involves adding a film layer of carbonized oil to coat your cast iron pot or cauldron.
Helping it form a no-stick black surface because of Polymerization
The inside of the pan is oiled and heated to over 400°F until the fat begins to polymerize.
Done to create a series of thin-film layers or patinas on the pots.
This was done as necessary maintenance and protective measure because Cast iron is of course made from iron.
And as a highly reactive element, it will rust quickly in the slightest contact with water.
Although modern cast iron cauldrons come pre-seasoned now. Back then, manually seasoning your cauldron was the way to go.
These historical factors perhaps have a role in their perceived value amongst collectors.
Possibly serving as cultural artifacts connecting us back to a charming, distinctive era of history.
Iron postcards of the past.
Modernism and new technology do not mean we are in a better worldand artifact collecting is rooted in a deeper purpose.
Of building a healthy relationship with what was, to better understand what is and finally prepare for what shall be.
Beyond idolizing the past, they can be a major source of inspiration to designers and creatives alike.
Because In a world with fast-changing trends. This is a hack to stay relevant and inspired.
An opportunity to borrow brilliance Or like the incredible New York Times Bestseller, Austin Klein would say,”Steal Like An Artist”
Antique Cast Iron Cauldrons can inspire anyone.
From Interior Designers, Fashion Designers, Artists, and even filmmakers.
For complete clarity and to make sure this guide contains everything you’ll ever need in your quest to acquire your antique cast iron Cauldron.
I’ll be classifying these iron cookware based on two (2) different metrics, which will include;
- Use Case.
- Brand Names
Different people have used and collected antique cast iron Cauldrons for different reasons since their inception.
Some of these Use cases include;
The most obvious reason.
Cauldrons are simply wide pots used to cook On open fires.
Making their application as household or external cooking ware, their oldest and most prominent.
Cast iron Cauldrons have been the go-to cooking ware since people turned to metals to cook, in early civilization.
Some are designed so distinctly for rare royal feastings and others maintain a plain and simple aesthetic for the everyday meal.
Their ability to perfectly retain heat makes them very suitable for open fires, hanging over fires with a chain, and even on modern gas and ovens.
By the way, For easy cleaning after use, Porcelain-coated cast iron cauldrons are relatively easier to clean if you’re going to be cooking with them.
A perfect example of an antique cast iron pot perfect for cooking is the Dutch Oven.
It is also common lore that certain foods taste better when prepared in a cast-iron cauldron [link to 8 meals that taste better with a cauldron]
If you’re going to be cooking with these heavy, heat-retaining metals…
Then take note of the following;
- Don’t leave water drops in the pan. Always wipe dry after use to avoid corrosion and subsequent rusting
- Acidic meals should be prevented from being prepared in pots.
- Wash immediately and avoid allowing water to soak into your pans.
Considering very aesthetically pleasing antique rarities like the Tetsubin.
Collectors will be swarming like bees around certain types as decorations to beautify a room
Some cast-iron cauldrons were designed with royalties in mind. Carrying on them is rare and significant art.
Some cauldrons look more attractive than others. And Would on the first encounter has collectors, enthusiasts, and fans imagine them on a wall somewhere in an art museum or their own homes.
Certain antique cast iron cauldrons are collected strictly for Display
3.RITUALS AND RITES
From Irish folklore about Leprechauns saving gold in cauldrons
To witches cooking up concoctions and strange brews
It is no surprise our third class of antique cauldrons featured here are those most suitable for ceremonial, cultural, or traditional rites and rituals
Like the burning of incense…
Or of powerful words inscribed on paper.
In very culturally active regions of the world like Africa and Asia, cast iron Pots are particularly great for all sorts of burning rites.
Everything from herbs to incense would be perfect
These types of antique pots are notably not as big as their counterparts.
Built with just enough capacity to contain the material to be burnt.
They very easily gather the attention of collectors or flippers. For their cultural value, use case, and occasional beauty
A famous example of this kind is the African Pooja used for various rites, and in servicing several African deities like Ogun.
They’re relatively smaller and some even come elaborately designed and patterned.
Making them pretty suitable for display too.
If you’re a collector, then you want to get your hands on these, wherever you find them.
And hopefully, flip them for a fair price.
In the not so underground world of antique cast iron collecting. Certain brand names have become synonymous with the Niche.
As with other product niches and industries, certain brands are significantly more valuable than others.
For their value, reputation, or fandom.
This consequently increases their demand and value in markets (among their target audience or collector communities)
If you’re a flipper, then you should pay attention to these names and their brand marks
Mentioning them will trigger the interests of any collector. And you are finding a quality piece that can get you a good profit on your initial investment.
Here is a list of the most important antique cast iron cauldrons brands known for quality and in demand now;
The Wagner brand was a household name in the cast iron cookware space in the 19th and 20th century
Over 100 years old, the Wagner brand is found up till now in various markets and sales.
They are in immense demand from enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Founded by Milton and Bernard Wagner in Sidney, Ohio in 1891
They are a popular brand known for notoriously standing on uncompromising quality and product value.
Specializing in a wide range of cast iron products like skillets, bean pots, cornbread pans, broilers, Dutch ovens, and much more.
And boasting a wide range of brand logos too thought their time (About 16 trademarks)
This wide collection has made them more sought after amongst hobbyists.
The Wagner brand is best known for its fantastic Dutch Ovens.
Other standout features include the smooth cooking surface of their cookware, little or no casting flaws, and immense quality across different product ranges
The Wagner Company closed down around 1959, due to low sales and their struggles financially.
Attributed to several factors like the world war, the great depression, and the influx of alternative cookware like silver and aluminum
The price wars with competing brands with very cheap imports from Asia are a common threat to most American businesses in that era, yet another valid reason.
Their rarity since the stop of production is little wonder there is such a fandom over the brand.
Collectors would drool over whatever household pieces they can find.
And if you’re in the business of flipping antique pieces.
Then keep an eye out for these at the occasional sale and flea market.
The Griswold Brand dates as far back as 1868.
The product of the Griswold and Selden family coming together to start a cookware company.
Matthew Griswold & Samuel Selden started the Selden & Griswold Manufacturing Company
Using Brand names like S&G, until Samuel passed in 1882 and Matthew bought out the Selden family from the business.
And further rebranding as The Griswold Manufacturing Company.
They are also popular for a wide range of products like Dutch Ovens, Yankee Bowls, Skillets, and Round or Flat buttoned Kettles.
With about a 100years old cast iron products still in circulation. WIth the Griswold brand becoming a household brand in the Antique cast iron world.
Anyone who gets their hands on one could either earn bragging rights amongst other hobbyist collectors or flip them for a good profit.
Their products were labeled with an Erie tag.
And shouldn’t be hard to spot at a garage sale or in your grandma’s kitchen.
The Griswold Company shut down around 1947 when they were sold to investors and eventually.
To guess who?
Yes, The Wagner Company. In 1957.
A classic brand worthy of acknowledgment and fandom.
Lodge was founded in 1896…
And is regarded as the longest-running full-time foundry in America.
Worthy of respect and support by anyone who loves cast iron cauldrons.
Or honestly simply understands what it means to run a business across decades while staying relevant.
Besides their longevity, they have built a strong customer loyalty due to their high-quality top-notch cast iron cookware
That has consistently given Americans value for their money for generations.
Call them the Coca-cola of cast iron cookware if you may.
Their popular “egg logo” is a common print on the Lodge products
The Lodge brand’s secret to consistency could be its innovation.
As they made the transition from regular old cauldron casting to making pre-seasoned cast iron products.
Alleviating customers of the time tasking process self-executed prior.
The Lodge Brand is popular among collectors, and its antique products remain sought after by enthusiasts of the cast iron cookware industry.
The above are the top three brands you’d find the most whispers about.
But other brands worthy of mention include;
- The Birmingham Stove Company
- Unmarked Cast Iron
- Asian Cast Iron
- CHICAGO HARDWARE
Antique Cast Iron Cauldron Identification & Recognition
If you’re a collector of antique cast iron cauldrons. You’ll find out that they are usually old, worn out, and rusty, making them difficult to spot at a single glance.
You will need to have some deeper insight into identifying or recognizing certain brands and properly estimating their value Remember, Vintage does not equal Antique.
Here are a few rules of thumbs when scouring through collectible markets trying to score your first antique cast iron cookware or cauldron;
- Made in [Insert Country name]: Around the 1960s. The US government set a law in motion, stating that manufacturers put their country’s name on products.
So if it has its country name at the back or bottom, then it wasn’t made before 1960.
And although it might have one of the brand names mentioned above tatted on it, it can’t be considered Antique.
And in turn, isn’t worth much if you plan to flip for profit.
- Flash or Gate Mark:This is a scar around the Cauldron. It is indicative of the two halves of the mold joining while the pit is being cast.
A side effect of the molding and casting process used in the 19th & 20rh centuries.
- Heat Ring:These rings were placed on antique cookware made before the 1940s to accommodate the type of stoves available at the time.
The heat rings were placed beneath the pots to make sure they sat firmly on the ring stoves without sliding off.
As stove manufacturers updated their stove features, the ring feature was taken out from further product designs of cast iron pots.
Making products with Heat rings specific to that era and falling in line with antique standards. Hence contributing to their rarity and demand by collectors.
Size & Type Abbreviation: The Lodge brand Was known for not placing their brand names on their pots until the 1970s and 1980s.
So any pots with the lodge name although pretty vintage. Is not an antique.
They specifically had the size and product type abbreviations instead. Like 8DO which would mean a size 8, Dutch Oven.
- Notches: Also common with the Antique Lodge cast iron cookware.
If probed carefully at the bottom. Lodge Antiques has notches around the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock areas of the bottom heat ring.
So do well to always run your hand across the bottom and try to get a feel of these notches.
No notch, Not antique.
Finding an antique notch is finding a potential money maker. A flipper’s delight.
- Wagner Identification: A possible Wagner product to come across in markets and easily mistaken for antique items is Wagner’s pots with the Wagner Sidney 1891
Why? Because these were not made in 1891 but in 1991 when The Wagner Manufacturing company celebrated a century anniversary.
So although the date falls within the antique range, it wasn’t produced until the 90s. And is at best a vintage.
If you intend to collect original antiques for your showroom or flip them. Then don’t pick those up.
Another amazing way to identify Wagner antiques is by tracing their logo time frames (With over 16 logos during their company life cycle)
Lastly, The Wagner company for a brief period made unbranded products for lower-end stores while they continued to put brand names on products distributed to higher-end stores. Selling to both social classes.
These low-end targeted products make up the antique category and can be recognized by their non-abbreviated text describing their products like ‘CAST IRON SKILLET’.
in full typewriter block letters.
- Chicago Hardware: These although not as popular are worth collecting nonetheless. They are super easy to identify.
As they are covered with rough hammer flashes all over their exterior.
Bonus rules of thumbs:
- Make sure it rings! –If it doesn’t ring, it’s broken!
- Dirt & Rust– Dirt isn’t a problem when checking the validity of antique cast iron items which have survived hundreds of years.
Rust on the other hand is a real concern. Your antique isn’t worth so much rusted
- Balance– Do your due diligence to make sure every antique item can properly lay flat.
You can do that by giving the handle a spin. If it doesn’t move, It is flat.
The Value of Antique Cast Iron Cauldron
A lot of factors influence the value of any product. But there are some averages and unspoken standard prices.
Firstly, Cast Iron on its own and turned to scraps isn’t worth so much and goes for about $100 per metric ton.
Being its foundational material, it goes a long way in affecting value.
The rarity and condition of the antique cast iron product play an additional role in the valuation and price.
The Most Popular Brands (Wagner & Griswold) have antiques that can go for up to $1525 apiece.
Some antiques also go for about ($40 – $1000) on an average.
And even a possibility of seeing some within the $530 range and even up to $36,000 high end.
The older and rare,
the more the perceived value and possible price.
Where to Buy Antique Cast Iron Cauldron
As a pretty niched product within the collectible space…
here are a couple of niche markets where you can go to scout for some antique cast iron cookware and cauldrons;
- GARAGE SALES
- ESTATE SALES
- FLEA MARKETS
- NEW AGE STORES
- ONLINE (eBay. Etsy, 1stdibs.com)
Whether you’re collecting as a hobbyist, intending to flip for profit…or to make amazing delicacies.
Antique cast iron cauldrons will stay relevant. And you should have no issues procuring one using this detailed guide.