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The Birmingham Stove & Range Sportsman's grill is a rare item, especially the first generation with four legs instead of three. The oval frying pan, originally made and marketed as a fish fryer accessory for the grill, is highly sought after by cast iron enthusiasts.
The Sportsman Grill started out as the Birmingham Stove & Range Sad Iron Heater, used with coal or wood. (A number of antique elongated cast iron "griddles" in antique stores are actually sad iron heaters.) A BS&R salesman from Louisiana had the idea of selling these sad iron heaters as fish fryers; and BS&R redesigned the heater, calling it the Sportsman Grill. The earliest of these BS&R Grills still had the four-legged design of the sad iron heater, though they quickly converted to a more stable three-legged design for outdoor use on uneven ground.
The original patent on this grill was issued to Atlanta Stove Works in 1941:  Former BS&R marketing executive Hugh Rushing confirmed this in a Facebook posting on July 21, 2014: "I found an Atlanta Stove Works catalog from 1941 which features the Sportsman grill with shallow fish fryer. I had previously opined that it might not have been produced until after WWII, but apparently it was in the line in 1941."
Here's a later model of the Sportsman Grill. On the Cast Iron Cooking group, James Goodman compared this with the one above, and he wrote:
The individual parts for the grill are shown here: the base of the grill, upper grate, lower grate (where coals are placed), front panel, and sliding draft door. The draft door was not part of the original 1930s model grill. It was added with the later model.
By the 1950s, the Sportsman grill was produced with two identical fire doors. These were interchangeable, and the only difference between the two was the name on the door. Of the two, "Atlanta Stove Works" seems to be the more commonly found; "Birmingham Stove & Range" is seen less often.
For a while, this unusual piece was believed to have been made by Atlanta Stove Works. Later research determined it was not.
The owner of this piece, Joedy Hicks, wrote: "That grill is mine. I bought it a couple years ago in the hopes that it WAS an original stove type BS&R grill, it is not its an unused 4 leg BS&R Sportsman grill with a top from a company called the Portland Foundry from Maine; I think that's the name of the company. They made a Hibachi grill that is similar to a Sportsman, and you can get this cook top from them to go with it. It is what's called a marriage of parts. Parts that fit together nicely and work well but do not belong together. "
This is a 1970s-era original packing box for the Sportsman grill from Atlanta Stove Works. (The owner stated the box had a date of 1974.) Click on the picture for a larger image of the label.
Another later model grill, this one stamped with BS&R's parent company of Atlanta Stove Works. This grill is in excellent condition, though even this photo suggests a rougher and less polished surface. There's a possibility it could have been produced by BS&R during its later years as A&B Foundry, during the years after 1986.
When Birmingham Stove & Range closed completely in 1991, the design for the Sportsman grill was passed on to Lodge Manufacturing in order to settle Atlanta Stove Works' debt to Lodge. Lodge continued to produce the grill under its own brand, and the Lodge "hibachi" sportsman's grill continues to be a popular and regularly selling product today. Lodge made minor modifications to the design of the grill, but it is still essentially the same design produced by BS&R in its later days.
In 1992 A&B foundry (Birmingham Stove & Range) shut down permanently. As part of its debt settlement, the design and ownership of the Sportsman grill was passed on to Lodge Manufacturing. During the years 1992 through 1997, Lodge produced its own "American Wildlife" series of cast iron pans. There were four designs in this series, displaying artistic images of a design of a fish (Largemouth Bass), a duck (Mallard), deer (Whitetail Deer), and a dog (Pointer hunting dog). While the "Wildlife" series name applied specifically to five cast iron skillets produced this series, Lodge added the "duck" design to the Sportsman grill, along with the deep fish fryer seen below. This was the exact same grill, except that the charcoal door on the front had an artistic design of a duck plus background scenery. The attractive design of this grill has made it into a collector's items on its own, and despite its relatively "new" age (as of this writing, in 2016, the "duck design" grill was only produced twenty to twenty-five years ago), this grill can fetch high prices on eBay and other antique markets. The "American Wildlife" series was last produced in 1997, though Lodge continued producing the Sportsman grill with the duck design as late as 2002. After this point, the Sportsman grill was produced with the modern-day Lodge Cast Iron logo.
A YouTube video
|Model Number||Length||Full Length||Width||Depth||Weight|
|3052 Shallow Fish Fryer||17 IN.||20.5 IN.||9 IN.||1 3/4 IN.||8 lbs.|
|3060 Deep Fish Fryer||17 IN.||20.5 IN.||9 IN.||4 IN.||13 lbs.|
The first generation design was the Sportsman model 3052 fish fryer. This was made for the Sportsman grill, and it had angled handles. Most of these pans were marked with a model number 3052, and a rough print of the word SPORTSMAN on the underside of one handle. A few of these pans have been found with no markings at all underneath. They are believed to be among the very first pans made for this grill, when it was introduced in the 1930s. The first generation of the Sportsman 3052 fryer is believed to have been produced from the 1940s through the 1960s. This is a very large pan, but surprisingly light for its size. The cooking surface is 17 inches long by 9 inches wide, and it's 1 3/4 inches deep. . The full length from handle to handle is 20.5 inches.
Major changes came to Birmingham Stove & Range in the 1960s, with the introduction of automated production using DISAMATIC equipment (Wikipedia article on DISAMATIC). This new process resulted in considerable changes to the designs of many Birmingham Stove & Range pans, including the Sportsman fryers. The most prominent change was the design of the handle. The Sportsman fish fryer was re-designed with a new, sleek look, both the shallow 3052 and 3060 deep fish fryer.
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the design of the pan was further modified, bit by bit. This was in order to compensate for production issues, production equipment updates and modifications, and other manufacturing concerns. One noticeable result of these changes can be seen in the design of the handle for the 3052 and 3060 fryer.
(BS&R photo by Stephanie Christian.)
As seen above, the handle of the "second generation" 1960s model fryer had has a more rounded handle. The "third generation" is seen below:
By the 1980s, fryers of the "third generation" produced by BS&R had wider handles than the thin handles of the 1960 design, and with a flat top.
Nearly every one of these deep pans found by enthusiasts has handles that are rounded instead of angled. For a long time, it was thought all of the Sportsman deep fryers had rounded handles. However, on March 8, 2015, a deep fryer with angled handles was revealed on Facebook – a truly rare item. This pot did not have a model number on the bottom; it only had a number 1.
The Birmingham Stove & Range deep fish fryer pot was officially designated with the model number 3060 in the 1960s. This was when automated production introduced changes into the design of BS&R fryers, and these pots were given rounded handles rather than angled handles. The deep fryer has the same length and width as the shallow fish fryer: 17 inches long by 9 inches wide, or 20.5 inches from one handle to the other.
With a depth of 4 inches, it certainly lives up to its name as a "deep" fryer.
For a while, Internet collectors of BS&R cast iron assumed the "round handle" and "flat top handle" marked the difference in design between the earlier BS&R fryer, and the later Lodge fryer. However, in June of 2015, researcher Cheryl Watson uncovered these photos, giving historical evidence to support the fact that the "flat top" handle design was produced by Birmingham Stove & Range. These photos show a Sportsman 3060 deep fryer shipped from Birmingham in June of 1985, when these pans were being produced by BS&R. However, the pot itself has a "flat top" handle, of a type previously assumed to have only been produced by Lodge:
Further research uncovered a second set of photos confirming "third generation" 3060 deep fryer to have existed at least since 1979. Cheryl writes, " This original box picture set has Major Differences from the other set I posted. 1) this one is Atlanta Stove Works 2) Lid is included 3) and the dating is…… 1979! Repeat, 1979. Now, the original picture set did not include a photo of the box dating, although stated verbally as 7-79. I was able to prove the 1970's date by researching the "Bass Pro" address thru the Bass Pro history, and sure enough, that was THE "original storefront" for Bass Pro in the 1970's, before they built the 'new' store in Missouri. Flat Top Handles on the 3060 Deep." Click each of these photos for a larger image:
This demonstrates there appears to be little or no difference in design between the 1980s design of the BS&R fryer, versus the fryer produced by Lodge.
There have been some specimens discovered of a smooth lid for the BS&R fish fryer pan. The handles curving upward were a BS&R patent, not made by any other manufacturer. This identifies this lid as being made by BS&R. It might be an early model of the lid, dating to the early 1960s, maybe even late 1950s – around the time the Century Cookware series was introduced.
In 1971, Birmingham Stove & Range introduced a cast iron two-sided grill cover for its Sportsman shallow and deep fryers. The lid was produced as BS&R model 3093, with this number printed on the lid. The lid had the same shape as the Sportsman fish fryer, except that the underside had grill ridges, so this could be used as a flat griddle on one side and a grill on the other side. The handle was set at a downward angle, so it would remain separate from the handle of the deep fryer itself. It could be lifted off of the pot without any difficulty. The model 3093 griddle cover fit both the 3060 deep fryer and the second-generation 3052 shallow fish fryer. (Reportedly, it did not fit perfectly on the original angled-handle model of the 3052 fish fryer.) The original patent on this piece was issued to Atlanta Stove Works: 
After A&B foundry (Birmingham Stove & Range) ceased production in 1992, ownership and production of the Sportsman grill and fryer was acquired by Lodge. They continued to produce the model 3093 iron lid to the fish fryer, with the same handle design, griddle top, and grill bottom. In addition, during the 1990s Lodge changed the cover design of the model 3093 lid to match the design of its own "American Wildlife" series of cast iron pans. The cover design was an artistic image of a duck flying across a wetland background, instead of a flat griddle. As with the other "Wildlife" pans from Lodge, the attractive design of the model 3093 lid has made it (and the 3060 fryer with this lid) into a collector's items on its own, and the sheer size of the 3060 deep fryer has made it especially desirable as a collector. It wasn't cost effective to produce three separate molds of the model 3093 lid for all four "Wildlife" designs, so the Lodge deep fryer always had a lid with the image of a duck.
Both the model 3052 and 3060 fish fryers were discontinued by Lodge. It's estimated that these pans were last produced in the year 2002.
The cast iron "oval roaster" remains a popular item for cooks and collectors alike. Competitors such as Camp Chef continue to produce large cast iron pots of this design. Cabela's outdoor sportsman stores sell cast iron "oval roasters" that resemble the original Birmingham Stove & Range fryer pot. These modern-day cast iron pots have elaborately designed covers, but the pots themselves do not have any markings on top or underneath. The vintage BS&R and Lodge lids had angled handles, to allow the lid to be easily placed onto the pan and lifted. Modern-day lids from makers like Camp Chef or Cajun Classic (Bayou Classic) have straight handles.
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