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Ask The Pan Handler: Pattern Numbers and Letters on Vintage Skillets

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Catherine M from California wrote:

“I found this great pan it cleaned up nicely it looks exactly like the 701H you are selling has all the same measurements heat ring and logo markings on the back only difference I see is it has 701 & directly under the 701 E I can’t find another marked with an E under the 701. Is this a rare skillet? Thanks.”

Michelle M from Ohio wrote:

“I have a Griswold #8 704 T cast iron-age and value? I cannot find any information about this with the letter T..I bought it years ago at a local flea market..use it all the time 🙂 it was made in Erie, Pa. large block logo bottom center and ringed bottom. Thank you!”

Hi Catherine and Michelle. Isn’t it fun when you find an old pan and you rescue it and restore it and put it back into use? That is one of the things I really love about doing this work. Preserving history!

I cannot identify pieces without photos, and unfortunately neither of your emails contained  any photos of the markings on the pan. The specific markings on the pan, as well as other aspects that need to be seen, are all important in dating or identifying a piece.

Also, Michelle, as the Ask The Pan Handler contact form states, I do not provide opinions as to value. That is totally subjective and depends on many factors; you need to do your own research. You might want to take a look at the “Ask The Pan Handler” post I made in reply to Robert W’s question, here.

Both of you, however, are asking about the letter on the bottom of the pan that is – or is not – present after the 3-digit number. The 3-digit number you refer to (701 and 704) is the “pattern” number. Catherine asks whether her Griswold number 7 pan (which is Griswold’s pattern number 701) is rare because it does not have a letter after the pattern number, whereas the pan she apparently saw on my website does have a letter after the pattern number. Michelle asks about her pan because it has a letter T following the pattern number (Griswold’s pattern number on Michelle’s skillet is 704), and she has not seen any other letter T’s following the pattern number.

As to the letter – or lack thereof – following the pattern number on a pan, here are photos showing the pattern number of two of the Griswold number 7 skillets I presently have on the site. As you can see, one has pattern number 701 G, and another has pattern number 701 H.

Griswold number 7 pan, pattern number 701 G.

Griswold large block logo EPU number 7 pan, pattern number 701 G.

Griswold number 7 skillet, pattern number 701 H.

Griswold large block logo EPU number 7 skillet, pattern number 701 H.

Other Griswold number 7 pans may have just the pattern number (i.e. 701), or an entirely different letter following the pattern number.

Is the skillet rare or unusual because of this? No.

I wrote an Ask The Pan Handler blog post on the smoothness of vintage cast iron pans vs. pans of recent manufacture; you can find it here. That blog post has embedded videos which show how the casting process works – there is a video from Lodge and an old British video embedded in that post, which give a nice overview.

To put it in simple and general terms, in the sand casting process, the sand is tamped and packed around a “pattern” skillet, to create a mold into which molten iron will be poured. Once the sand is tamped just right, the pattern is carefully removed from the mold, leaving a vacant space into which iron is poured, creating the final product. The number Catherine has on her skillet – 701 – is Griswold’s pattern number for that number 7 skillet. The letter which follows the 701 (or the lack thereof) is simply a mechanism by which Griswold identified which of the particular patterns were used in that pour; i.e. a quality control measure. Similarly, the letter T on Michelle’s skillet following the pattern number 704, is simply a reflection of the particular pattern that was used in that pour.

While I am sorry to tell you that the letter – or lack thereof – does not make your pans “rare” or unusual, it doesn’t make them any less collectible, valuable or useful.

I am glad you both are using your old Griswold pans –  now go enjoy them and get cooking!