Know you want to get him (or her) vintage cast iron cookware as a gift but asking yourself what exactly to get? Here are a few suggestions – hope you find them helpful!
He is very particular.
Ask him to make a wish list on thepan-handler.com. When looking at a piece on the site, there is an option to “add to wish list.” This narrows the field quite a bit for you.
I know I want to get her a vintage skillet, but there are too many choices!
A good starting point, if you aren’t very familiar with cast iron cookware, is to take a look at the FAQs section on the site. Scroll down to see all of the topics. This information will give you a good starting point, along with tips about how to select a vintage cast iron pan.
If she doesn’t yet have vintage cast iron cookware, a skillet set with different sizes or a skillet with matching lid would be a great choice. Take a look at the “Holiday Gift Ideas” section, along with the shop’s “skillet sets” section.
If you are going to get just one skillet:
* If she cooks for one, consider a size 8 skillet.
* If she cooks for two, consider a size 8 or 9 skillet.
* If she cooks for three or four, consider a size 9, 10, or even 12.
* If she cooks for a crowd, consider larger skillets such as sizes 12 and 14.
A lid for the pan is also a nice luxury, if your budget permits.
He cooks with modern-day cast iron, and I want to turn him on to vintage.
Look for a skillet with thin walls and a satiny smooth cooking surface, such as the early Griswolds and Wagners. He will be amazed at the difference in weight, and appreciate the smooth cooking surface.
I want a pan just like the one I saw in Playboy.
As I have been trumpeting, one of our pans is featured in Playboy’s 60th Anniversary issue, January – February 2014. One of our pans is one of Playboy’s “Best Practices: 60 Things, Ideas, & Actions that Every Man Should Know, Own, & Do.” Playboy recommends a cast iron skillet in particular for cooking steak, and recommends that every man should have not just a cast iron pan, but a vintage cast iron pan.
The pan that is featured in Playboy is referred to on the site as a Griswold large block logo EPU number 10 skillet. If you are looking for a pan just like the Playboy pan (the actual pan sold as soon as the mobile article came out), do a search for number 10 pans and look for a Griswold large logo pan. Of course, depending on how many people you typically cook for (see above), a 7, 8, 9, or even a 12 might fit the bill perfectly for you. And of course there are other logos besides the Griswold large block logo EPU; there are a plethora of choice on the site for you.
She already has everything!
She might have a selection of vintage skillets, but does she have a chicken pan? Dutch oven? Large skillet? Small skillet? Waffle iron? Long griddle? Round griddle? Breakfast pan? Patty mold or cake mold? Gem or Muffin Pan? How about a Plett or Aebleskiver pan? Does she need a trivet for one of her Dutch ovens? Take a look around the site at the sections other than “skillets.” There are a wide variety of vintage cast iron pieces. Also check to see if she has lids for her vintage cast iron pans; they can be hard to come by and are often sold separately.
He is a foodie.
Griswold small logo and Iron Mountain skillets are praised as great cookers. Other pans can also be great cookers, of course; look for pans with satin-smooth glassy cooking surfaces.
If he has a ceramic cooktop, consider a smooth-bottom skillet (instead of one with a heat ring) and make sure the description says that the pan sits flat. If he has a gas or electric range, it doesn’t matter as much if the pan has a slight wobble.
If he already has a vintage skillet, consider a cake mold or patty mold, corn bread or baking pan. How about a heart waffle iron? Chicken pan for frying? Breakfast griddle?
She is a collector.
Go for a Griswold unless she already has accumulated pieces from one of the other brands, such as Wagner or Wapak. Griswold is the most commonly collected of the cast iron cookware lines.
If she already collects cast iron cookware, try to see what her collection is missing. Does she have a waffle iron? Baking or muffin pans? Lids? Is there a particular size skillet or lid that she doesn’t have that would round out her collection? Or if she already has all the cookware she needs, how about a sad iron or ultra cool Griswold cast iron mailbox?
If you know she does collect a particular brand of cookware such as Griswold, check to see what the logo looks like and try to find a pan with a matching logo (i.e. large block logo, slant logo). You can see photos of the various Griswold logos in the blog post “Griswold logos.”
He prefers things that are offbeat.
Consider one of the lesser-known brands, such as Wapak or Favorite or a piece other than a skillet. Consider a waffle iron by a maker other than Griswold or Wagner. How about a sad iron, to be used as a paperweight or door stop? A decorative kettle? Mailbox? Kettle? Bowl? Look for some of the more esoteric pieces.
Only the best will do.
Do a product search on the site for the words “mint” “minty” “near-mint,” and “excellent.” Consider something high-end such as the Buster Brown waffle iron, Griswold #13 skillet, or a Griswold mold set. Consider a Griswold skillet set, or skillet and lid.
I don’t care about a name brand; I just want to get her a really old piece.
Do a search on the site for gatemarked skillets – those are typically from around the 1880’s. Also search for items that state in the title that they are antique or more than 100 years old.
I have a tight budget.
Take a look at the section of the shop marked “scratch and dent.” You will find pieces there that have flaws and are marked down. The section for “unknown / unmarked” pieces also has some budget-friendly pieces. You can also choose to sort through the shop sections by price. The smaller more common-sized skillets, such as 3, 5, and 6 are typically more budget-friendly than the less common and larger skillets.
At check out, you now have the option to pay via credit or debit card, in addition to paying through PayPal. PayPal also offers the option to “buy now, pay later.” This is a financing agreement with PayPal; details are available through PayPal.
I don’t know what kind of cast iron he already has.
If you know that he has cast iron cookware and you want to supplement what he has, you are best off asking him (or someone who cooks with him) what he already has. If you don’t want to do that, consider something other than a size 8 skillet. Skillets are typically the first vintage cast iron purchase that a person makes, and a size 8 is a common first purchase. How about a chicken pan or larger skillet with lid? Small skillet? Waffle iron? Patty molds? Muffin or baking pan? Kettle? Bowl?
I want to get a lid for a pan that she already has.
You need to know what size and make of pan she has before you try to buy a lid for that pan. Lids do not have a universal fit. A #8 Wagner lid, for example, will likely not fit a #8 Wapak pan. Even if the same maker of the lid makes the pan, the fit can vary. For example, Wagner skillet lids do not necessarily fit Wagner chicken pans. Dutch oven lids are different from skillet lids.
Griswold skillet lids fit Griswold and Iron Mountain skillets regardless of logo; look for the number on the lid that matches the number on the pan (i.e. 8, 9, 10).
I want to get him something that he can pass down to his children and grandchildren.
All of the vintage pieces on the site are made to last a lifetime and then some. If you are looking for pans that are the most collectible/hold their value, consider Griswold or Wagner. As to the different Griswold logos, see the blog section on thepan-handler.com; there is a post that describes the different Griswold logos.
Enough already! I don’t have time for a crash course in vintage cast iron; I just want to buy a gift…now!
If you feel lost in a sea of pans, email us through the “contact” form at the bottom of the home page and give some detail on what you’re looking for; we’re happy to make suggestions! And remember, we also are offering “rustic” burlap wrap this season for an additional charge of $7.
Happy holiday hunting!