I love cast iron cookware.
We have two eight-inch frying pans and two . . . we call them Dutch ovens but they're not really; they don't have the legs and the flat top with the rim to hold coals. So they're covered pots with bail handles, whatever the proper name is for them. They all belonged to various grandparents. The frying pans are terrific for eggs and the cauldrons roast a mean chicken.
Sadly, though, my parents in the early years of their marriage had little kitchen space and "too many pots", so they got rid of the old full-sized frying pans and covered chicken fryers. This is a bummer because they've told me that they were as worn-smooth inside as the small frying pans and cauldrons are, and that's a beautiful thing in cast iron.
I bought a Lodge 10 1/2-inch frying pan a few years ago and have worked diligently to use it. It has a nice, glossy, black finish but it's still new and very far from being smooth on the inside. I always check antique stores for cast iron but it seems like the pans are all either very expensive or very, very, rusty, or both.
I had time to kill this Saturday, so went to two antique malls. I found this at the second one.
It was both salvageably clean and $25, which is totally not bad for a good cast-iron pan. It's 11" and the inside is nice and smooth. Wagner is/was a very popular brand (one of our little pans is a Wagner), and the little I can find online suggests that this is from the 1940's.
I took it home, cleaned it, rubbed it with Crisco, and put it in the oven. At some point, I remembered that I had seen a shallow "pan" that day at . . . I would have sworn it was the first antique mall, that was probably the lid to this. When it was cool enough to touch, I took it with me, got the cashier to put a note on it saying it was mine, and spent a freaking hour and a half looking for that lid. Never did find it. Aargh!
I can't imagine that somebody bought it in the four hours between when I got home and when I came back. I'm off of work on Tuesday so I'm going back to both malls to see if I can find that darned lid.