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Wagner Manufacturing Company

It is interesting to note that although Wagner Manufacturing Company would later gain international fame for its cast iron cookware, Philip Smith was also in the cookware industry in Sidney, Ohio, at an early date. He founded the Sidney Hollow Ware Co. in 1886. Wagner eventually bought out Smith's business in 1897. Smith retired in 1907 after almost half a century as a business and community leader.

John Loughlin's school desk carried the name of Sidney around the country, but cookware from Sidney put Sidney 'on the map' for good. The business began as a partnership between several of Mathias Wagner's sons in the early 1880s. Wagner Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1891, with the principal owners being Bernard, Milton, Louis, and William Wagner. They decided that every product made would be cast with the name of their town on the back of the product.

Early advertising stated, "We do not strive to manufacture hollow ware as cheaply as possible, but as good as it can be made. We cannot afford to put on the market ware that will not sustain our reputation. The name ‘Wagner’ is cast on the bottom of each piece of ware."

Wagner became a major player in the cast iron and aluminum market in this country over the next half century. Much of its product was sold in Europe as well. Over the years, the company manufactured not only cookware, but a vast array of other metal products such as furnace grates, feed troughs, rubbish burners, kettles, and chemists' mortars.

Cookware, however, became Wagner's claim to fame. Wagner pioneered the use of cast aluminum cookware in 1894. The company won numerous first place awards in international competitions. Its national market share reached 60% at one time. It is now the oldest continuously operating manufacturer of cookware in the country. In 1997, the Historical Society and Wagner erected a plaque commemorating the company’s success in the cookware industry. It can be seen at Wagner’s office building on 440 Fair Road. The plaque is fastened to the building. It is located near the front door/entrance.

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Industry segment written in January, 1998 by Rich Wallace

 

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