Q:

How do you tell the age of cast iron?

A:

Quick Answer

Cast iron pieces made in the mid-1800s or earlier have distinct surface features on their undersides, such as a circular mark called a sprue on the oldest pieces, or a thin, long line called a gate mark on later ones. These marks disappeared as casting techniques improved, but cast iron pieces from the late 1800s and early 1900s can usually be dated by their trademarks and maker's marks.

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Full Answer

The rough markings on the bottoms of old cast iron objects indicate where the molten iron was poured into the mold. Most pieces made after 1875 have smooth undersides, because crafting methods changed so that the iron entered the mold on the sides, usually in two places. More recent cast iron may show heavy grinding marks on the sides to smooth out these rough entry points, but this grinding technique wouldn't be available to foundrymen before the mid-1800s.

Manufacturing techniques were perfected in the early 20th century, and pieces from between 1920 and 1940 are considered to be the highest quality. These examples often feature smooth, glassy surfaces due to polishing methods that were introduced to production. Early 20th century cast iron pieces made by recognizable manufacturers, such as Wagner and Griswold, are highly collectible today.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How can you tell if a Griswold cast iron skillet is real?

    A:

    Know if a Griswold cast iron skillet is real by looking for the tell-tale signs of a duplicate: poor casting, faint markings, orange rust and a feel that is heavier than it should be. Shrinkage occurs often when a foundry reproduces a real skillet, and the new skillet is often heavier.

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  • Q:

    How do you identify an antique cast- iron skillet?

    A:

    An antique cast-iron skillet may be identified by the markings on the bottom of the skillet, the location of those markings, the pour spout, and the characteristics of the handle and lid. A good photograph of the skillet of interest is also a good idea to compare with the skillet that is available to examine in person. If unsure about the age of a skillet or if it has any value as antique, consulting with a professional collector can help as well.

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  • Q:

    How do you find the value of an antique cast iron kettle?

    A:

    The value of any antique can be determined by an appraiser. When having any item appraised, it is best to go to someone who is accredited and meets professional and ethical standards.

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  • Q:

    How can you purchase antique cast-iron cook stoves?

    A:

    To purchase an antique cast-iron cook stove, go to eBay or specialty websites such as Antiquecookstove.com or Stovehospital.com and narrow the selection by brand, configuration, size and price before finalizing the purchase price, payment terms and shipping details. Sellers may offer buyers free local pick-up or ship throughout the U.S. for an additional fee. Because of the size and weight of a cast-iron stove, shipping costs are typically a major consideration and add substantially to the total purchase price.

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