If you weren’t aware, vintage cast-iron skillets can be highly collectible. And while there are many collectible pieces, there are none that have reached the status of Griswold’s famed “Spider Skillet.”
Produced by Griswold Manufacturing in the late 19th century, the skillet bears a spider in its web stamped on the base (the “spider” is actually a smaller cast-iron skillet with legs coming off its sides). The origins of the Spider Skillet have eluded cast iron collectors for decades, as it’s the only skillet the famed maker ever put a spider on, and there was no official word as to why they did it in the first place.
In a paper detailing the specifics of pre-1900 Erie skillets, Roy G. Meadows of the Wagner & Griswold Society determined the pan was produced between 1890 and 1891 and was quickly pulled from production. Also of note, the spider on the base was embossed, meaning it protruded from the pan rather than the typical inset logos. This means the spider stamp was liable to rub off when resting on the eye of a stove. The rarity from a short production stint and an easily obscured defining feature means prices for mint condition Spider skillets are astronomical — like this one going for $8,000 on Canadian Ebay.
Why a spider? Apparently, Griswold brass had a thing for Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who fought to free Scotland from English rule. Meadows found internal company communications headed with the words “As the little spider brought success to Robert Bruce, so cooking utensils bearing this trademark brings success to all who use them.” You can buy cast iron collecting’s holy grail for $8,000 right now.