Q: We paid $2 for an 8-inch Wagner skillet at an auction. The molded words on the bottom are not like the wording on our other Wagner cookware. Our other Wagner pieces are marked “Wagner Ware, Sidney.” This one, in a different style of lettering, says “Wagner’s 1891 Original Cast Iron Cookware.” Under that there’s a list of “Seasoning Instructions.” What can you tell us?
A: Your skillet was made in the early 1990s by General Housewares Corp. of Terre Haute, Ind., to promote Wagner’s 100th anniversary. Wagner Manufacturing Co. was founded in Sidney, Ohio, in 1891. Wagner became a division of the Randall Co. of Cincinnati in the early 1950s, and in 1959 Randall was acquired by Textron Inc. of Providence, R.I. Ten years later, Textron sold Wagner to General Housewares, which sold the Wagner factory in 1997. The factory closed in 1999, just a few years after making anniversary wares like your skillet. If you paid only $2 for it, you did all right. We have seen Wagner anniversary skillets selling for $10 to $20.