"It's a fabulous thing to be able to use an antique today." — John Bruno
John's right! Some antique treasures are meant to be looked at and loved from a distance — safely on a wall or shelf — but not cast iron! From doorstops to garden sculptures to kitchen goods, cast iron is tough enough to handle the bumps and bruises of daily usage.
Check out some cast iron treasures from the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW website that have stood the test of time:
Cast Iron Windmill Weight, ca. 1890
If you want to look for cast iron collectibles a little closer to home, check your own kitchen cabinets. Chances are you or someone in your family has inherited at least one cast iron pot or pan over the years. That heavy old cooking tool might not carry much monetary value, but any good chef will tell you that its culinary worth can increase greatly with age and use. The seasonings accumulated in the cast iron over the years can imbue your contemporary cuisine with a sense of history as well as flavor.
But even if your mother and grandmother didn't have the foresight to save their cast iron cookware for you, don't worry, these tools are virtually indestructible, so there's plenty to go around — and find at flea markets.
Have you ever seen a rusty cast iron pan for sale and wondered, "Who would ever buy that?" With a little elbow grease that rust will come right off, giving you a pan fit for a gourmet kitchen. Here's an Instructables tutorial on how to clean up a rusty pan.
Cast iron is the original non-stick cookware, with cast iron pots and pans passing down through generations. If you follow the rules of caring for cast iron cookware, you'll have functional vintage pieces that you too can give to your grandchildren. Even better, you can cook something now — perhaps this Cherry Oven Pancake from Bay Area Bites and PBS Food? Enjoy!
Written by MARKET WARRIORS senior producer Sarah Grafman.