Tell me about my new (old) 15' Cast Iron skillet, please? (pics)

robin_dSeptember 25, 2007

Isn't this a cool-looking skillet? Actually, I've had it for about a year (my mom gave it to me, along with a couple others, for my new kitchen), but I've just started using it. It cooks like a dream so far, very smooth bottom and the seasoning is pretty good (and getting better). It's 15" in diameter with a stamped design in the metal on the bottom. The raised letters on the helper handle read AB&I. I'm curious how old it likely is and if you know anything about it - Google isn't loving me on this one.

I also got a nice roomy 11 3/4" Griswold with a wonderful seasoning on it and a really scabrous, crusty-sided 10-inch no-name with a fire ring on the bottom that I'd re-season in a heartbeat if it didn't cook so nicely. Good thing I have a sturdy pot rack, lol!

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Wow....that's a rare, vintage skillet for sure. Sorry I can't help you ID the manufacturer.

Here's what little I know about it. It is a very handsome, quality made, desirable piece of cast iron......I know I want it. It is a number 15 skillet which is a rare item to find. Too, most of the large skillets that I have seen have the smoke/heat ring and this one doesn't.....I like that. The small dimple you see in the center of this skillet was caused by the grinding wheel that the manufacture used to polish the cooking surface....that dimple is one of the marks of quality, vintage cast iron. Had I seen this item of e-bay my "opening" bid would have been one hundred dollars.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 8:27AM
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Thank you very much, Dan, for taking the time to reply to my post. A little more searching last night paid off a little: AB&I is, apparently, American Brass & Iron (AB&I Foundry), still in business after 100 years, although not making cookware, ha. They don't mention having made cookware on their website though - it strictly deals with their current products. According to their website they have always used reclaimed metal, and still do. Among other things, they still make manhole covers. I've emailed them to ask for any info about their old cookware - if I receive a response I'll post it here.

I did find a smaller (12") AB&I skillet on eBay - the interesting thing is that it has a riverboat (paddle boat) instead of a sailing ship stamped on the the bottom. Cool!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 11:05AM
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Robin, those AB&I cookware pieces are very dangerous. You should immediately ship the 15" one to me for proper disposal. :>)

A really nice piece, and you should feel fortunate to have it.

I wonder if AB&I used different boats to identify sizes or models? Or perhaps the pieces can be dated based on the kind of boat? Not a bad idea, if that's what they did.

Let us know what else you uncover about it.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 12:58PM
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YES I agree with gardenland except you should ship it to me. LOL I have a collection of Cast Iron pans.
I would never give mine up.
If you need any information on how to care for them, below is a link.
I have a griddle that is over 100 years old
Heres what I found on yours;
AB&I stands for AMERICAN BRASS & IRON (AB&I), OAKLAND, CA (c. 1980's) -- skillets, dutch ovens

Here is a link that might be useful: cast iron care

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 1:54PM
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Hi Robin,
Just saw your posting and responses and wanted to add some info. American Brass & Iorn as noted used recycled iron in their foundry for years. This iron included old auto engines, transmission and differential cases, etc. that of course previously had oil in them. Todays American foundry practices do not use those types of reclaimed metals to manufacture food processing materials such as cast iron cookware to my knowledge. This is a hot and sensitive issue and current question and concern about imported cast iron especially from China. If your pan were mine I would be cautious of its use until the material content could be confirmed. AB&I also used different logos on the bottom of their pans. Most if not all pans were marked with the American Cookware logo. I had a pan and have seen others with a covered wagon on the bottom, and have seen boats and ships, all depicting americana. Your pan is unusual because of its size, large pans are hard to find. I also agree and disagree with the link to Old Jack's seasoning recipe and cleaning technique. I deal in cast iron on ebay and clean 200 or so pieces a year using the electrolysis method, fast, easy, efficient, and no posinous chemicals used. For more info on cast iron and use and cleaning I recommend the Wagner and Griswold Society or the Griswold and Cast Iron Cookware Association websites. Both sites have open forums and can be used by non members.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Hello Robin,

I have a pan that is the same size as yours, also by AB&I. It is fully 15 inches across (15"). Mine has a riverboat on the bottom, though. By the look of the cast iron and the style of the finish, I am guessing it was a product of the 1950s.

In additon, I have several Wagners, a few older Lodge pans, and one Vollrath corn stick oven cookpan.

I love my cast iron. Don't let anyone talk you out of your treasure!


Big Iron

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 1:46AM
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I have that pan in a NEW, unused condition, decorated as it came from factory with gold in the embossed lettering and ship design on the bottom and a black shiny surface to entire bottom. Inside is lightly rusted from hanging on a wall as a decoration for years. Does anyone know what an UNUSED pan like this might be worth? I may want to sell it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:20AM
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This is very interesting! I have recently been obsessed with obtaining Some good cast iron. My invitory of cookware is slim! Two nice sauce pans, and a 4quart non-stick skillet. Don't judge, they are useful pieces that I can cook about anything in. But I will finally be living in one place for more than a year, I want some iron in my kitchen. I am dissappointed that ab&i doesn't make cookware anymore. My dad had a 12-13 in ab&i skillet. Looks exactly like the one pictured except smaller of course. Oh, and the bottom had no design that I remember. He also had a huge 21 in or so one that is unmarked and has a rough interior. It was ok, but not the dream to cook with like the ab&i one. I have 9 brothers and sisters. We needed it. So, now for the search of a used machined/polished cast iron skillet for a reasonable price. They don't pay is poorly in the military, but it's not great either!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 3:26AM
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Sam, it's been a while since I checked eBay. What are the prices like over there?

Also, you might want to check the Wagner & Griswold Society. Some of those collectors have way more iron than they need (they just like to restore rusty old pans!). Maybe someone will sell you a pan for a good price. Nothing collectible, mind you, but a good cooker just the same.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wagner & Griswold Society

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Don't know the age of your pan but I visited AB&I foundry in 2004.They were still making the pans then.They do it for another company which name I can't remember.Nice pan though.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Hello there. I am Jessies boyfriend and my mom just gave her a 12 inch AB&I camp oven. Did I get screwed? LOL Good shape too!
Is this a rare pan?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:51PM
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