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Special Pans by Birmingham Stove and Range

Chef Skillet, Square Skillet, Breakfast Griddle, Small Fry, and the Jumbo Skillet

The years 1966 through 1968 saw the introduction of the new DISA automated production system at Birmingham Stove & Range. This new system allowed the company to greatly increase its production and output. It also gave them the opportunity to experiment with different designs and shapes, to generate further revenue for the company and see what might catch on with the public.

The most popular of these newly designed pans was the corn bread skillet, which was BS&R's biggest selling pan. More information about these pans can be seen on this page: Corn Bread Pans by Birmingham Stove and Range

The Century Cookware series also included these pans, which were introduced at various times between 1966 and 1992.

Handles

These pans hand a handle design shaped slightly different from the handles of "regular" BS&R skillets. This handle was longer and thinner, and the hanging eye hole had more of an oval shape than a teardrop shape. More notably, the handle was curved rather than straight.

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Chef Skillet

Chef skillets are designed with a more rounded bottom and curved sides than a typical skillet. This makes them especially designed to move and toss the food in the pan, and they are popular for sauteeing and making omelettes.

This pan was manufactured in the mid-1970s, with a MADE IN USA mark and a mold ID of 9H-2. There is no size number because the pan was only produced with one size. There have been specimens of the chef skillet that used the Lady Bess markings, stating "10 CHEF" to indicate a diameter of 10 inches. Like other skillets from Birmingham Stove & Range, this pan has a solid heat ring underneath; chef skillets from other manufacturers had flat bottoms with no heat rings.

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A photo of a later BS&R chef skillet with a 10 - CHEF mark.

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Square Skillet

This pan was produced with only one size. With a width of 10 1/4 inches, this was the same size as the "square skillets" from other manufacturers. Glass lids made for square skillets from Wagner and other companies will fit the Birmingham Stove & Range square skillet.

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The markings on the underside of the square skillet are similar to the 1960s-era unmarked Wagner pan, as it gave the size of the pan plus a description. However, there are differences between the Wagner square skillet and BS&R, as seen below:

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During its early production run, the square skillet had markings that differed from other BS&R pans. Examples shown here include a rectangular border around the 10 1/4 size and the words SQUARE SKILLET.

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Here is a square skillet with nothing but the letters B X on the underside.

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Photos by Steve Hill.

Some of these pans have been discovered with completely blank undersides. With the square skillet, the best trait for identification is the unique shape of the handle.

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Breakfast Griddle

In the later 1960s, Birmingham Stove & Range introduced a square cast iron skillet called the Breakfast Griddle. While Wagner, Griswold, and other manufacturers had produced square "breakfast skillets" with sectioned surfaces as early as the 1940s to 1950s, the 1960s breakfast griddle was the first of these pans from BS&R. Two obvious differences between this and the earlier breakfast skillets make this pan easy to identify: the BS&R breakfast skillet had a flat surface without separate sections; and it was far bigger than the other breakfast pans.

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Photo of top of pan by Brad Woods.

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Left: Photo of 1960s-era breakfast griddle, with a small MADE IN USA mark. Right: Photo of 1970s breakfast griddle (with mold ID number) by Steve Dennison.

The breakfast griddle was marked with a description (BREAKFAST GRIDDLE), plus a size number and the exact size of the pan. In the 1970s, BS&R added a printed mold ID number on the bottom, at the same time they also marked their other pans with the mold ID. A pan with a mold ID is of later make, dating to the mid-1970s; if the mold ID is not present, then the pan was made between the 1960s to earlier 1970s.

Small Fry

Produced during the 1970s and 1980s, the cast iron "Small Fry" pan may be the most "unknown" of the Century Cookware series. Its handle was shaped different from any other Birmingham Stove & Range pans, and its size and shape are similar to a number of tiny square pans produced by Asian manufacturers. Those foreign pans are sold today at retail stores, both for cooking and even as candle holders. However, the 5 X 5 SMALL FRY logo on the bottom of this pan unquestionably identifies it as BS&R. It includes the 68H-1 mold ID number added to 1970s-era Century pans.

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Jumbo Skillet

In the late 1980s, Birmingham Stove & Range produced this giant cast iron skillet. This monster pan has a diameter of 20 inches, and a weight of 30 pounds. The markings underneath are the description JUMBO SKILLET, plus a mold ID marking of 75H. Only one mold was needed, as very few of these pans were produced. (It's too big to fit into many home ovens!)

Jumbo Skillet 01 Jumbo Skillet 02 Jumbo Skillet 03
Jumbo Skillet 04 Jumbo Skillet 05 Jumbo Skillet 06

Photos by Damon D. Edwards, posted to Facebook in June of 2015

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Photos by Tom Penkava, Wagner and Griswold Society

Hugh Rushing commented on Facebook, "The Jumbo skillet was introduced in the mid 1980s with a floor molding pattern. Probably not more than 1,000 were made. It was 20 inches roughly in diameter. My favorite story is an outfitter in the West who bought one of these. A short time later he ordered 24 (a huge order). He used them to feed his pack mules. 'They only kick them once,' he said. Previously he'd used plastic feed pans which the mules apparently destroyed in short order. We also sold a whole lot of these to Cajun cooking enthusiasts in Louisiana." – Hugh Rushing, August 25, 2014

Today, Bayou Classic (an importer of Asian-made cast iron) sells its own 20-inch "Jumbo Skillet", though this is shaped with straight sides rather than the rounded sides of the BS&R model pan.


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