Cast iron pots, skillets, Dutch ovens and other cookware is made by pouring iron into a mold. Cast iron cookware became common in the 18th century after furnaces could generate enough heat to sustain the process. Enameled cast iron pots appeared in the 19th Century. A company established by the Ware brothers of Sidney, Ohio, pioneered cast iron cookware in the U.S.
Two brothers, Milton and Bernard Wagner, began making cast iron cookware in Sidney, Ohio, in 1881. Their brothers William and Louis soon joined the Wagner Hollow Ware Company. The company changed its name to the Wagner Manufacturing Company in 1891.
The Randall Corporation bought Wagner in 1952. McGraw Edison bought Grisold Company, Wagner’s longtime competitor, in March 1957, then sold it to Randall in December of that year. Beginning in December 1957, the Wagner foundry in Sidney, Ohio, made all Griwold cast iron cookware.
Textron bought both Wagner and Griswold from Randall in 1959 and 10 years later sold both brands to General Housewares. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, General Housewares stamped both the Wagner and Griswold trademarks on the bottoms of its cast iron cookware. General Housewares closed the Wagner foundry in 1999. In 2000, the American Culinary Corporation bought Wagner, Griswold and the WagnerWare line.
The authors of "Collectors Guide to Wagner Ware and Other Companies" reports that the company’s trademark, stamped on the bottom of its cast iron cookware, shifted over time. The earliest trademarks, from 1891 to 1914, were stamped in block letters. Those include SIDNEY O on skillets; WAGNER on skillets and griddles; WAGNER SIDNEY O on Dutch ovens, griddles and skillets; NATIONAL on waffle irons and skillets; and WAGNER WARE on muffin pans and round roasters.
In 1915, Wagner stamped one large italic W followed by smaller letters “agner” and “are" on the bottom of its cast iron cookware. These trademarks included Wagner ware Sidney O stamped on many different pots and skillets until 1959; Griswold Wagner ware on Dutch ovens, muffin pans and skillets from 1915 forward; Wagner ware inside a triangle on skillets and NATIONAL Wagner ware from 1915 until an uncertain date. The company stamped WagnerWare on numerous products from 1959 forward. In 1991, it marketed a “Wagner’s 1891 original” on its cast iron cookware.
- American Culinary Corp; About Us--Timeline
- L. W. Book Sales, Gas City, IN; Collectors Guide to Wagner Ware and Other Companies; 2002
- Griswold and Wagner Society, cast iron collectors: FAQ
- Holiday Cook; History of Cast Iron Cookery
- Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association; Wagner History
- Cooking with Cast Iron; Wagner Cast Iron