Gate Marks and Christmas Gifts

Steve, my better half, gave me a wonderful Christmas gift this year – a 16-inch Lodge camp Dutch Oven that was made over a hundred years ago. Antique 16" Lodge Dutch OvenOur friend from Mississippi, Biscuit, is downsizing and sold Steve this beautiful old oven.    It is special for many reasons in addition to it being a great gift from my better-half.

First, Lodge stopped production of this big oven back in the spring of 2013, so they are going to be harder and harder to find.

Gate MarkSecond, this oven has a “gate” mark which means it was made before 1900.  In the photograph above, the gate mark is between the two legs.  Here’s a quick explanation of the gate mark from Jim and Beth Boyle’s blog Rams Horn Studio:

This next generation of cast iron, beginning around the mid 1700’s, have a “gate” mark, which looks like a long thin line on the bottom of the piece. This is where the iron entered the mold, and the technique lasted from the mid-1700’s to the late 1800’s or so. Pieces made around 1875 to the present time were engineered so the iron entered the mold from the sides. It entered usually in two places, sometimes opposite one another. These pieces have a smooth bottom.

Even though it is a beast to carry, I love it.  It is perfect for baking bread since it has a lot of space for a dozen rolls.  20140908-IMG_3125-Edit-1

There are many more reasons but I have to admit that listing any more is a vain attempt to rationalize an otherwise irrational love of cast iron.  Steve and I have “Cast-Iron-Itus.”  We just can’t get enough cast iron!

We noticed that the old timer is much heavier than its younger version so we did a quick comparison.  The old timer weighs in at a whopping 41 1/2 pounds, that’s over nine pounds heavier than the youngster.  The flange around the lid of the older oven is almost twice as deep as the younger oven.  Finally, the older oven is almost an inch deeper than the youngster.  All other measurements appear to be very close with no noticeable difference.

We now have three 16-inch Dutch ovens, and I think the old timer is going to be my new favorite!  Do you have a favorite Dutch oven?

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