Cast Iron Trivets

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The least you should know # 18

We couldn’t talk about Collecting Antique Sad Irons unless we talked about something you put these hot things on. Just a simple thing called a TRIVET, and yes, they are mostly made of cast iron; however, they can be made of wire or stamped tin and yes, the CAST IRON TRIVETS are collectable. Check some of the photo’s and you can see why they are collectables.

  Everybody knows the term and everybody’s got some form of one at home, cork and bamboo. ETC.

English dictionary defines old sad iron “Trivets” this way, they a decorative metal or wire stand that was used for HOT kettles, skillets, pots and of course (Sad irons).

Now, we are just talking about Antique Cast Iron Trivets and {tri – meaning three}  mostly because we’re talking about old “Sad Ironin our previous blog post. Click on (LINK) to “Sad Irons”

These collector items come with either three or four legs. Three legged trivets were more stable on an uneven surface and were the most popular back in the day. Some of these Trivets were especially made for Sad Irons, custom fit the sad iron to the trivet by way of a lip, partial or all the way around the top of the casting, and that’s only so the iron didn’t slip off and onto the dry wood counter.

There are trivets that were made for Sad Irons and then the  flat trivets were made for hot skillets, frying pans, pot of hot water, ETC.

Some Trivets are very crude cast iron looking, “but practical no less” or they could be quite decorative and handy as well. Some of the elite trivets come with handles so you don’t burn your pinkies, “Oh, I already said that”  but most you will find do not. There’ re round ones, heart shaped ones, Lacey looking ones, and they all had the same purpose…just to keep the heat from the sad iron off the table or counter.

5 pictures antique trivets

Remember, mostly everything in the early days was made of wood. With a sad iron or flat iron in use they became quite hot, so the trivets were used to set a hot iron on, so you don’t burn your wood counter top, table, you or your cabin.

Fire was a big concern back then, being everything was made from wood.

*Antique Trivet castings were generally smooth and not coarse. Reproduction.

*They will also have Sprue or Wedge casting marks on the bottom or sides to indicate earlier casting procedures.

*Antique trivets normally had long legs 1”-1 ½” inches high.

*There were Lacey looking trivets, advertising trivets with a foundry name on it.  Some had the city or town name that they were made in. They, by the way, are the most desirable by Advertising and Antique Kitchen Ware Collectors.

* Flat Iron Trivets can range from a price of $20 – to a hefty price of over a $100.

The sole purpose of a Trivet was for setting hot items on.

Find antiquarian and rare books at!

In the modern day, we still use some form of insulator to keep a hot pot or skillet off of your $3000 dollar counter top, and still today, they’re  called a. . . Trivet.

Throw that cheap looking cork”trivet” hot pad awaycheap cork heat pads trivets and get something with a little history and a little more style. Antique Trivets are quite affordable and no comparison from the poorly made tasteless looking ones you buy today.

If nothing else, they make for a great conversation piece in any kitchen.

Many serious collectors look high and low for anything to do with “Antique Kitchen Related” hardware, utensils and especially decorative CAST IRON TRIVETS that have a foundry name on it, your home towns stamped in the casting. So, collecting Antique Sad Irons and Trivets go hand in hand. Both fit  into that category of “Collectables” .



Please check these interesting sites for more on “ Antique Kitchen Décor.”

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Cast Iron Collectables


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#47 of a Series of 50

Comparing good and bad casting

Comparing Good and Bad Casting


In order to understand the difference between an older piece of cast iron and a newer piece (reproduction), you have to somewhat understand what cast iron is and how it’s made. Especially cast iron Collectables and antiques.

Very general rules

In the olden, golden days talented wood craftsmen would have carved out the perfect shape of a item with fine detailing and then heated up molted metal to around 2000 decrease (give or take) and pour it into the mold. When cooled the two or more parts of the mold are separated and wa-la, the shape of whatever you designed is made. Most wood molds are generally only used once due to the heat.

Cast or casting is generally referring to a mold. People that do ceramics in most part use molds and they blow hot glass into it to get it’s shape and what it’s going to look like is determined by the shape of the mold.

Cast iron is the same

Now having said that, cost effective reusable molds would be made of sand and water Solutions, which are referred to as “SAND MOLDS” They’re more widely used especially on smaller items, such as toys, banks etc.


I never understood this part of today’s technology. By far our way of casting exceeds the casting from 50 or 200 years back. But the cast iron parts made today are coarser to the touch, crudely made, and in most part, in my thinking, not really attractive looking. In other words, they’re cheaply machine made, especially on reproduction antique and collectable Parts.

Cast Iron Collectables

So if we’re talking old cast iron money banks, cast iron door stops, door hammers, even cast iron toys, frying pans anything that has been molded, check the surface for fine or rough texture.

When I’m referring to casting, once you make that mold, you could theoretically pour molted aluminum instead of iron. That would make it cast aluminum. Many everyday items are cast aluminum.

If you look at any bottle, (pop bottle to beer bottle) look at the side from the bottom to the top, see and feel the 2 lines, one on each side of the bottle. That’s from where the two half’s of the mold met and separated to make the bottle.

That’s one way of telling how old the bottle is, but that’s a different subject all together.

There are many things that are made from molds. Fiberglass boats and cars parts, to name a few, are made from molds. So that technology is widely used today.


By the way, iron is a very cheap “metal” by-product of steel.

Seven fast ways I check the age of cast iron.

  • Check the smoothness of the piece.



  • Check how parts fit together, tight with very little to no gaps, that’s a  good thing. Remember craftsmanship, real people assembled these pieces not machines.
  • Check inside of the part. Sometimes the casting is reasonably smooth on the outside but very coarse on the inside. That would be a red flag.
  • Check the quality of paint. In most cases, depending on the manufacturer, they dip the items in paint, which makes the paint thicker. Today items are sprayed on with very low quality paint and thickness.
  • 100 year old paint would in most part still look like last week’s paint job.
  • Check the screw or screws holding the sections/parts together. Older items before and around the industrial evolution were slotted screw heads, and, don’t get me wrong
    Slotted Screw HEAD on old cast iron banks


    (that’s not saying the screw was not changed), but it does devalue the piece no less and could just throw you off from thinking it’s not an original.

  • They say compare the size of the part to a known authentic WHAT EVER. The reproduction one would be a different size than the original. There are some reference books that will give you measurements and  that’s only if you’re really concerned or paying large dollars for the item.

Once you get used to a few simple tricks, you might have a better understanding what to look for. There are more good reproductions of cast iron parts out there than the old authentic ones.  But you will at least  be armed with a few general things to look for.

Please check out my blog on “Cast Iron Trivets” (LINK)


By the way, small cast iron items such as banks, toy figurine, kitchen ware, skillets, anything small are good sellers, or on the other hand, just good collector items. Just remember, collecting cast iron “anything”, doesn’t take up a lot of room.

I’m not an expert by any means, This is just a simple guide on how I check, “anything cast iron”. Do your research, and learn more

Please check out my post on Collecting Space Age Toys.

Collecting Space Age Memorabellia.

This is part of of a series of 50


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