Learn the Interesting History of Wagner Manufacturing Company and its Magnalite Cookware


The Wagner Manufacturing Company was a maker of cast iron and aluminum products with operations centered in Sidney, Ohio, in the United States. The company was owned and operated by a family. It manufactured metal goods that were not limited to cookware, such as frying pans, casseroles, kettles, and baking trays. Additionally, it manufactured products made of metal that were not related to cookware. 

Wagner was in business from 1891 until 1952 and at one point held a dominant position in the market for cookware, which he sold both in Europe and the United States. Wagner goods are still being produced today, having been continued in production by the new owners of the company after it was sold in 1952. Collectors place a high value on the artifacts in their original form.

Brief History of Wagner Manufacturing Company

  • Joseph Altenbach, an architect, laid the first stone of what would become the Wagner Manufacturing Company’s first production complex in the year 1890. This building would eventually be used by the company. Mathias Wagner had a close relationship with Altenbach, a prolific professional who was responsible for the design of many of Sidney’s most noteworthy structures.
  • The Wagner Manufacturing Company was initially established by the latter’s sons, Milton M. Wagner and Bernard P. Wagner, who incorporated the business in the year 1891. They were joined in their endeavors by R.O. Bingham, a former employee of both the Marion Stove Works and the Sidney Manufacturing Company, as well as by co-owners Louis and William Wagner. Additionally, they were joined by R.O. Wagner. It was decided that Bingham would take on the role of superintendent for Wagner.
  • Wagner began producing nickel-plated goods as early as 1892, expanding its product offering as a result. It wasn’t until 1894, only two years later, that it became one of the very first enterprises to create cookware made of aluminum. In 1897, Wagner acquired its competitor Sidney Hollow Ware; but, in 1903, it was resold to its previous owner, Phillip Smith, who had originally purchased it. Despite these early setbacks, Wagner’s distribution network had already reached the international scene by the year 1913. At its height, the corporation held a market share of sixty percent in the category of cookware.
  • Businesses all across the world were hit particularly hard by the Great Depression, and Wagner was not an exception. Wagner decided to employ John Gordon Rideout, an industrial engineer, to revamp a large number of their goods so that they might boost their flagging sales and save the company from going under. Therefore, the “Magnalite” product line, which was developed in the early 1930s utilizing a patented aluminum alloy, came into being at that time. In collaboration with his business partner Harold Van Doren, Rideout developed the Magnalite series of teakettles, which features a heat conductivity that is significantly enhanced. In the next year, they developed a casserole that had a lid and found that it was just as successful.
  • The heirs of the Wagner brothers started selling off their stakes in the company in 1946, which was the beginning of the transition that ultimately led to the company being purchased in 1952 by a vehicle parts manufacturer called the Randall Company, which was based in Cincinnati, Ohio. After another five years, the Wagner division of Randall Company purchased Griswold Manufacturing and took it away from McGraw-Edison. Randall was purchased by Textron in 1959, and 1969, Textron sold the Wagner and Griswold businesses to the General Housewares Corporation (GHC). However, in 1959, Randall was acquired by Textron. After going into receivership, Wagner and Griswold were able to sell their trademarks to the American Culinary Corporation of Willoughby, Ohio. This allowed the American Culinary Corporation to acquire ownership of the trademarks. At least as late as 2014, they maintained production of their various product lines.

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The Wagner Manufacturing Company’s Operations

  • The company started off producing mainly products made of cast iron, but in 1892 they began making nickel-plated crockery as well. In the year 1894, Wagner was one of the first companies to manufacture cookware made of aluminum. In the year 1897, the business bought a competitor in the form of Sidney Hollow Ware from Phillip Smith. William H. Wagner, the third brother, joined the company to manage this activity once it was taken over. In the year 1903, Smith purchased Sidney Hollow Ware once again. By 1913, Wagner was already exporting its wares to a variety of countries.
  • Wagner developed into a significant producer of cast iron and aluminum goods, which it sold in both the United States and Europe. In addition to several types of cookware, it was also responsible for the production of furnace grates, feed troughs, garbage burners, kettles, and pharmacists’ mortars. The business was honored with several accolades and at one point held a market share of sixty percent in the category of cookware. Wagner Ware, National, Long Life, Wardway, and Ward’s Cast Iron were among the available brand names.
  • In the early 1930s, a range of cast aluminum items known as “Magnalite” was produced. These products were made from an aluminum alloy that had been granted a patent. To combat the declining sales that were occurring during the Great Depression, the firm decided to revamp the designs of Wagner’s products and hired industrial designer John Gordon Rideout to do so. In 1933, Rideout and his business partner Harold Van Doren produced a Magnalite teakettle with varied thicknesses to enhance heat conductivity. The following year, in 1934, Rideout and Van Doren designed a Magnalite aluminum-covered casserole for Wagner.
  • Beginning in 1946, the heirs of the Wagner brothers, who had founded the corporation, began selling off their shares in the business. In 1952, the Wagner Manufacturing Company was acquired by the Randall Company, which was based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and produced automobile parts.
  • In 1957, the Griswold Manufacturing company was purchased from McGraw-Edison by the Randall’s Wagner branch. In 1959, Textron completed the acquisition of Randall. In 1969, Textron parted ways with the Wagner and Griswold product lines by selling them to General Housewares Corporation (GHC). The rights to the Wagner and Griswold lines were sold to the Slyman Group by GHC in the year 1996. The Wagner factory and the Wagner and Griswold brands were acquired by the American Culinary Corporation of Willoughby, Ohio after the company was allowed to go into receivership and then permitted to go into bankruptcy. As of the year 2014, American Culinary had not ceased marketing products under the Wagner, Wagnerware, Magnalite, and Griswold brand names. Collectors place a significant premium on anything with the Wagner and Griswold names.

History of the Magnalite Cookware

  • The founding of Wagner Ware Magnalite took place in Sidney, Ohio, in the United States, and this fact should be the first thing you learn about the history of the company. Around sixty of those years were spent with the family successfully running the enterprise, during which time it was maintained and expanded. The year 1891 marked the beginning of business operations for the corporation, which continued until 1952.
  • During this period, the company manufactured several goods of superior quality by utilizing cast iron and aluminum. According to Magnalite’s history, this firm manufactured cookware that was highly popular in both Europe and the United States. Not only were the company’s products of high quality, but they were also simple, properly made, and exceptionally stylish, which is one of the primary reasons why so many people cherished them so much.
  • Joseph Altenbach, who founded the company in 1890, is considered to be the beginning of the Magnalite cookware history. He worked as an architect and was also a very good friend of the Wagner family. The Wagners considered him a member of their family. In that same year, the architect initiated the process of construction and planning for the primary complex of the corporation. This particular individual gained a great deal of notoriety for his role in constructing the majority of Sidney as well as the majority of the structures located there.
  • In the year 1894, the company got its start in the industry by manufacturing cast-iron and nickel-plated cookware. After finding that to be profitable, the company shifted its focus to manufacturing and marketing cookware made of aluminum. The history of Wagner Ware Magnalite will reveal to you that by the year 1913, the firm controlled approximately sixty percent of the market share in the cookware industry. The vast majority of countries on earth were involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the company’s goods.
  • Cookware from Wagner Ware was created utilizing an alloy of magnesium and aluminum in the manufacturing process. They are superior to the other cookware that has been sold up to this point because they have some thinner sides and a base that is denser than the base. This makes them very good. Because of the way it is constructed, the items can quickly absorb heat and then quickly and evenly disperse it as they are being cooked. In addition, the lids on the pots and pans have a tight-sealing design that prevents vapor from escaping, enabling the food to cook more quickly while retaining the majority of its moisture. The cookware is versatile and may be used in any setting, including being moved from a stovetop to an oven or from a refrigerator to a stovetop without being harmed.
  • It was initially developed by Alcoa in 1919 and was later purchased by World Kitchen, Inc. for the sum of 230 million dollars in 2007. The first iteration of Magnalite, known as WagnerWare, was initially released as part of a cooperation between Wagner Ware and Aluminum Specialty Company. Subsequently, the WagnerWare brand was renamed Magnalite after being purchased by an American Sales business and transformed into the Magnalite brand.
  • The name “Magnalite” was chosen for the corporation because it is a combination of the words “magnesium” and “aluminum.” Because it has been more than ten years since Magnalite cookware was acquired by World Kitchen, Inc., many individuals are uncertain as to whether or not the brand continues to be manufactured in the present day. Despite this, they continue to manufacture the cookware. It’s unknown whether or not it has ever been sold under the Magnalite name because it was first advertised in 2007.
  • Since the middle of the 1900s, numerous pieces of counterfeit cookware created in other countries have been sold on the pretense that they are Magnalite. Even more alarming is the possibility that a corporation with the standing and reputation of Corning Ware may be the source of these fakes. The fact that the fakes are not compatible with any of the authentic Corning Ware pieces is another source of frustration.
  • The Magnalite line of cookware features a wide range of utensils, from those designed for use on the stovetop to those designed for use in the oven and roasting pans. Even before you pick up the pots and pans to compare them for yourself, you can tell how they differ from other types of cookware that are more affordable and lighter.

What Distinctive Features Set Magnalite Apart from Other Cast Iron Cookware?

Iron, due to its exceptional heat retention qualities, is the material of choice for professional cooks and competitors. The Magnalite team, on the other hand, had the objective of making a more fundamental contribution to the world. They desired something more beneficial for you, the customer, from every conceivable standpoint. Their fundamental mission is to provide cookware made of cast iron that is good for both the home and the heart.

Magnalite is one of the best companies to think about purchasing if you are interested in purchasing a set of high-quality cast iron cookware. In 1945, in response to the growing need for a better-cast iron skillet, a business was established to meet this need. Magnalite cookware is hardy, long-lasting, and has a contemporary appearance. Both traditional stoves and ranges with glass tops are suitable for using this accessory. However, this brand is pretty pricey, so if you are seeking a deal, you should consider Magnalite knockoff products instead of purchasing this particular one.

Magnalite is made from aluminum that has been oxidized in a controlled thermal environment to produce its distinctive dark-gray cast. This process gives Magnalite its distinctive appearance. The pots and pans are then electrostatically coated and completed with a specific graphite thermal coating. This coating provides a rapid and even heat distribution, which makes cooking with Magnalite just as joyful as cooking delicious food itself.


It is interesting to note that even though Wagner Manufacturing Company would eventually become famous all over the world for its cast iron cookware, Philip Smith was also involved in the cookware sector at an early age in Sidney, Ohio. In the year 1886, he established the Sidney Hollow Ware Company. In the end, Wagner was able to buy out Smith’s business in the year 1897. After almost half a century of service as a business and community leader, Smith took his retirement in 1907. Magnalite cookware, on the other hand, may be purchased for anywhere between $100 and $300. The superior quality of the pots and pans is due to the use of materials such as copper, aluminum, and other components in their construction.