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ASW-BSR Enameled / Porcelain Coated Cookware (Read 2072 times)
Cheryl Watson
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ASW-BSR Enameled / Porcelain Coated Cookware
Apr 23rd, 2017 at 3:58am
 
We finally have concrete evidence, that Birmingham Stove and Range Cookware was, in fact, purchased, porcelain/enamel coating applied, and sold by a Third Party. 

As you read thru the posts below, you will see that debate has been ongoing for years...... Wink  Patience is a virtue, and sometimes the answers are found along the way. Wink

The letters below, dated 1975, and 1976, now give us the proof needed. 

The third party was.....
Roesch, Inc, Belleville, IL.


It is not currently known when this arrangement began, but it was clearly in place in 1975 and 1976.


Smiley Smiley Smiley


...
 



......


CLICK HERE FOR:


PRIZER LETTER


ROESCH-VERNOIS LETTER



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Chris Stairs
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Enameled BSR items
Reply #1 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 3:07am
 
There is an interesting discussion ongoing at the BSRUsers (BUGS) Facebook group concerning enameled BSR items.
  These two pictures have been shown on the BSR page as BSR items, but now, after reading what has been said by the insiders from BSR on that page, I am starting to wonder. It would be nice to have the BSR guys on the forum, but that may never happen.
  Perhaps it would be best to post these pictures on the Facebook page, to see if they remember these being made. I know that I saved these pictures from an Ebay auction years ago, and even though we don't normally post pics from the foundry list in public, I would sure like to know for sure.

  I think it best for Dwayne to post them there, as he is well known to the BSR guys.
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Chris Stairs
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #2 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 3:11am
 
I think that the general thought when these were posted was that these were made for a short time, until the new mold making machines were sorted out, and they figured out how to automate the tapered finger in the pattern.


Now I'm beginning to think these could might be imitaters....
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Roger Barfield
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #3 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 7:10am
 
Hugh is stating they never made enamel, but I've had three of them over the years.  They are pictured on the foundry page.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #4 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 7:34am
 
The ones that are skillets, and are clearly marked as any other BSR sure seem like the real deal.
  Maybe it happened before his time there? Maybe some other company bought a bunch of items and had them enameled, and sold them under their own label? However they may have became enameled, they are surely BSR.

  The lid pictured above is a different matter. It has an attached handle, but not like the knob on the Pioneer line, a handle made to resemble a standard BSR handle, but made in such a way as to avoid having to make a complcated mechanical pattern.
  It's not so much a question about enameling. it's about that handle.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #5 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 4:18pm
 
The one above is interesting.  It has the characteristics I would expect on BSR.  The Asian pieces I've seen usually have the tab type handle.  That one may not be BSR, I can't say for absolute sure it is or it isn't.  Maybe Dwayne or Tom has more information about it.  I remember it being discussed on the Forum at one time.   
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Andrea Paysinger
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #6 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 8:17pm
 
I've owned this small UNMARKED Dutch oven for about 25 years or so.  I think I bought it at Sears about the time I moved up here in '88.
It originally had a stainless steel bail but I removed it because it was awkward to handle.

I had smaller pots and larger ones Le Creuset and Descoware, Dru, etc., but needed something this size.

It's gotten a lot of use and cleans up well - it does not discolor with certain foods, they way Le Creuset does - it behaves more like my old Descoware from the '60s and the enamel is very tough, no chips - wish I could same the same for my Le Creuset.



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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #7 - Jun 3rd, 2014 at 10:47pm
 
That helps a great deal Andrea. BSR did make items for Sears, but probably not these ones. If you had said 1960 or so, I might think that they were still trying to sort out the pattern for the molding machines. By 88, it should not have any sort of attached handle if it was BSR.

  I don't know who made it or where, but I'm thinking not BSR.
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Roger Barfield
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #8 - Jun 4th, 2014 at 1:25am
 
If it was bought in 1988. I would not think BSR.   They were getting to the end of the road if I remember correctly.
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Cheryl Watson
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #9 - Jun 4th, 2014 at 8:33pm
 
Newest Post on BUGS page by Anthony Richerson....  the plot thickens... Grin
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Cheryl Watson
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #10 - Jun 4th, 2014 at 8:33pm
 
Markings...
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Roger Barfield
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #11 - Jun 4th, 2014 at 8:38pm
 
That one does look BSR all the way.  I can't say that for the one with the screw holding the handle in the lid.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #12 - Jun 6th, 2014 at 11:35pm
 
After reading posts to this thread, I was inspired to dig through the debris I call my collection. I remembered one piece of BS&R in particular and I found it. It is a No. 3 skillet with white enamel on the inside and black on the rest of it. At first glance it resembles pieces of Quaker Ware. I have taken photos of it and have sent them as e-mail attachments to Dwayne Henson, Roger Barfield and Chris Stairs, rather than posting them here. This way their availability isn't restricted, nor does it compromise members-only sections of the WAGS Forum. They can feel free to do with the photos as they see fit.

There is one aspect of the posts to the BS&R threads that bothers me a great deal. This is the role that "oral history" played in the reconstruction of the history of BS&R. It has been stated that BS&R never made anything for Sears and that those companies that did, went bankrupt. A very short time later, items made for Sears by BS&R were reported. Second, it was stated that BS&R never produced enameled ware. Now we know that enameled pieces are not rare, leading to speculation as to who would have enameled BS&R pieces without their knowledge. If we are to rely on memories, lets first make sure that the person rendering the history was actually present when the events took place. Alarms should go off and red flags raised when the oral history flies in the face of empirical data. I remember years ago at a convention in Erie when a group of former Griswold employees were invited to attend and entertain questions from the convention attendees. One person ask a question about Erie skillets, a former employee responded that he knew nothing about cast iron as his job was to wire small electrical kitchen appliances. Yes, he was there but some 50+ years after Erie skillets were made.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #13 - Jun 7th, 2014 at 10:37pm
 
John, I hear what you are saying.  Sometimes the oral history may be all we have until proven to be incorrect.  I think better to copy down what is available while it is still available.  These old foundry guys are passing away and all they know goes with them.  Memories may not always be accurate, or may have only been accurate while that particular person was there.  Our task is to sort it out and make sense of it all based on all the evidence we have.  To me that is what Wags is all about.  I wish we could get some of those old employees here on the Forum, but for whatever reason they are on Facebook.  We must glean what we can and test it based on facts and what evidence is available, sometimes we get it wrong.  The important thing is that we correct what we have here as new information becomes available and always question what is presented as fact or possible facts in light of hard evidence.  Thank you for your post and the photos.  I have not seen that one before.  I think it definitely should be added to the BSR foundry page.  Hopefully one day we will know the history behind it.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #14 - Jun 9th, 2014 at 4:24pm
 
Just looking at that lid is like taking a statement out of context, it may or may not indicate having been made by BSR.  It does have some simularities and some diferences, but when you put it with the bottom it came with you do get answers.  I have several of these in the brown and all the bottoms are marked in the standard BSR method.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #15 - Jun 9th, 2014 at 4:36pm
 
Thank you for the photos Tom.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #16 - Jun 9th, 2014 at 5:46pm
 
Roger Barfield wrote on Jun 9th, 2014 at 4:36pm:
Thank you for the photos Tom.


I sent Chris and Dwayne some additional information/speculation if they want to persue it, but did not post it here for fear of starting a false line of reasoning.
Here is one more of my #5 skillet, there is also another sause pan and then "Grasshopper" won the chicken fryer that goes with this set a few fears ago out bid me on it.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #17 - Jun 9th, 2014 at 5:54pm
 
I have been holding off on making any actual changes to the foundry pages until this gets hashed out.

Thank you For the pictures Tom.  I still would like to see if Saunders or Hugh knows anything about these.

Their recollections may not be gospel, but I think there is some value in recording their thoughts on some things. They might actually remember these specific lid handles, and if they were made by a competitor, or by BSR.

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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #18 - Jun 14th, 2014 at 3:53am
 
There is no doubt that BS&R made enameled pieces. I, myself have a green skillet. As far as Sears, BS&R turned down the opportunity to be the contractor for the entire Sears cast iron line. If read closely, BS&R did make the cast iron sold at the local Sears in Birmingham, with a Sears label, but not for the entire company, just the local. The Jones family knew the Sears store manager. BS&R's porcelain plant burnt down in the 1940's from what I remember, so who/when were these made? Are these all Desco? I do not know. 
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #19 - Jun 14th, 2014 at 2:04pm
 
I should have added when Sears came to BS&R, they (Sears) wanted all the top quality (think most expensive, and high loss features due to breakage) like very thin castings, sharp angles between the flat cooking surface and the sidewalls, etc. that is what bankrupt the other foundries who initially thought contracting with Sears was a good idea. That is why BS&R declined.

The BS&R items sold at the local Birmingham Sears, were just that, BS&R items with just a Sears label in them. So they would be impossible to tell these items from any other BS&R item.

I am sorta surprised about the debate here about. BS&R. I like it, that people here at WaGS are finally talking about this foundry, but that there are debates are part of it. Look at Lodge, the official line is they never plated any pieces, but we have example, after example of plated Lodge pieces, and there is no call to discard their history. Often the newer employees/family weren't there or were too young, or just flat didn't pay attention to the details that cast iron collectors think are important.

The three main guys from BS&R I had the Privilege to get to know over the phone, where sharp, funny, kind, very polite Southern Gentleman from a bygone era. All of them expressed amazement that anyone was calling them about cast iron cookware. Memories are funny things, it has been many years since I first contacted these gentleman and sadly on the phone I can now tell time has been working on them. They are all happy when I call, but the replies are slower, the memories aren't as clear, and occasionally the answer is I don't remember now, were years ago they knew answers quickly and with confidence. The main stories are the same as they were, but the details that didn't make as big an impression on them are going or gone.

I guess what I am saying is yes there can be problems with oral history, but all history is oral history, some of it gets written down. When I look at it, I don't see inconsistencies as proof that the whole thing is inaccurate, but look at it more like auto accident reports.

Two cars with two passengers each, crash. The four people each write a report about what happens. You have four different stories, the main facts are similar, but the details are all different. Does this mean all the reports are inaccurate? No. You are just getting each persons different perspective, and what detail they thought were important. This IMO describes the BS&R oral,history we have recorded here.
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Dwayne Henson
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #20 - Jun 14th, 2014 at 2:50pm
 
Here are a few
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Dwayne Henson
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #21 - Jun 14th, 2014 at 2:56pm
 
From John Wright
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #22 - Jun 14th, 2014 at 3:00pm
 
Other than that green lid I posted and that Pepto Bismal pink one,  the rest all appear more modern BS&R cast items. 1960's on, so are these are done by Desco? That green lid I posted is much older, I wonder if it was actually done at BS&R's porcelain plant before it burned down in the 40's.

For example Tom's sets scream 60's to me.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #23 - Jun 23rd, 2014 at 8:52pm
 
Hi:  Hugh Rushing here.  I worked at BS&R in a variety of capacities from 1977 to 1991.  I don't believe the porcelain avocado colored oven can be a BS&R. The "attached" handle is clearly not BS&R. The color would indicated late '60s or early '70s when this color was much in demand.  I'm inclined to think it was perhaps a Taiwan import since in the 1960s and early '70s Taiwan got into the manufacturing business in a big way. As far as the other items are concerned, BS&R could have sold raw product to a third party who enameled and then merchandised the product.  There's also discussion about the porcelain enamel plant owned by BS&R.  It burned over the Christmas holiday in either 1945 or 1946 I heard.  The decision was taken not to rebuild. The main use of this plant was to enamel stove drawer fronts for the extensive line of kitchen rangers (fired by gas, coal or wood) which the company made from the 1920s.

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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #24 - Jun 23rd, 2014 at 8:57pm
 
Thank you Mr Rushing for joining us here.  We appreciate any information you can provide.
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Hugh Rushing
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #25 - Jun 23rd, 2014 at 9:02pm
 
I've now signed up and posted.  I worked for BS&R from 1977 until mid-1991.  I'm happy to help when needed, but certainly don't intend to debate anyone who has firmly held opinions. I have heard several ideas about what "happened" to BS&R's cast iron production. Here's my memory:  From the Arab oil embargo through 1978 there was tremendous demand for wood fired heaters, which were made on the same production equipment as cast iron ware. The result was a neglect by everyone of the cookware business.  Stoves were profitable--more so than cookware, demand was so large there were allocations, empty trucks would pull in and drivers would attempt to bribe warehouse workers to load them--not to steal, but just to get stock.  By the early '80s all this died down. The foundry returned to making cookware a priority. I helped lead a marketing team which worked to get the Century line back into retailers shelves.  We emphasized quality and our flexibility which enabled us to deliver orders on time and complete. We experimented with new looks. The first nonstick cast iron for instance, and the Con Brio line, which was a rework of the Lady Bess line.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #26 - Jun 23rd, 2014 at 9:07pm
 
Hugh, thank you so much for your willingness to join our Forum and share the wealth of information which you possess!
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #27 - Jun 24th, 2014 at 12:00am
 
Hugh, thanks for taking a look at this. On the open handles on the lids, what is your impression of the set Tom shows, both the Dutch Oven and the Sauce pan lid have that open design handle, both of the bottom pieces are BS&R, and the porcelain colors match so well, that in my mind they are not marriages but a matched set. Can you think of any manufacturing that bought in large quantities, that would have also had the capability to do a quality porcelain? In all my talks with your father in law, I believe he mentioned Desco bought large quantities, by put the relationship fell apart as they were having a hard time keeping the porcelain on the cast iron. Do you think that is a possibility were all these came from, or is there someone else? I guess what we all are wondering is where did all these come from?

Again thanks for coming here. I sure appreciate it!
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #28 - Jun 27th, 2014 at 2:19am
 
Here is a porcelain deep skillet set from an old forum post in 2010.  The lid has an R in a diamond underneath the handle, and also on the inside of the lid.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #29 - Aug 9th, 2014 at 3:00am
 
Another like Toms, found on FB
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #30 - Aug 10th, 2014 at 1:28am
 
Do you think this is BSR?  I thought it was when I picked it up at an estate sale, but now I'm not so sure.  No markings I can see on the bottom under the enamel.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #31 - Aug 10th, 2014 at 3:42am
 
I'm not sure on that one Roger, especially with that smooth bottom, the handle looks different.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #32 - Aug 17th, 2014 at 3:46am
 
If I could wade into this conversation, I have had several conversations with  my dad who was the president of BSR for a number of years, being a "born executive" (kin to the boss, he would say). Specifically, BSR entertained and tried to make some enameled ware. Because the did some enameled pieces for the stoves, attempts were made to make the coating stick and be durable to compete with the imported products.  So, several attempts were made and some pieces were made, but none were commercially sold as a wholesale item.  The appearance of the items in this thread appear to be copies (probably Asian, they were very good copies) and as best as I can verify, were not BSR products AS ENAMELED.  There was no restriction on applying other finishes to BSR products bought wholesale and then re sold.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #33 - Aug 17th, 2014 at 4:31am
 
Red Mountain series. 
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Reply #34 - Aug 17th, 2014 at 6:33pm
 
Are you saying perhaps another company bought these and had them enameled with the purpose of selling them as a new product?
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #35 - Aug 24th, 2014 at 1:03am
 
Brandus's
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #36 - Nov 25th, 2014 at 1:54am
 
Seen on FB
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #37 - Dec 16th, 2014 at 11:12pm
 
Another similar to Tom's.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #38 - Feb 18th, 2016 at 4:32pm
 
Have a few more items to store here. My position has changed over this discussion. There is no doubt that that there are BS&R enamaled pieces out there. People from BS&R deny the enameling was theirs. So the question is who did this?. Two names came up in my interviews with Saunders "The Elder",  Deco and Roesch. No doubt that Roesch enameled BS&R pieces as a lady was nice enough to post this selection of ashtrays on FB. These are BS&R ashtrays, they are enamel and one had a Roesch sticker stil. on it. Does this mean that Roesch did all of these enamel pieces, no. But we at least have confirmed that Roesch did some.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #39 - Feb 18th, 2016 at 10:27pm
 
Do you think these were enameled for BS&R ?

John
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #40 - Feb 19th, 2016 at 1:32am
 
In 1963 those ashtrays were 30 to a carton, 20lbs per carton, and $9.67 for the lot.  I would think they just bought them by the case and sold them as promotional items with the enamel and company logos.  Those look mainly local to Roesch.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #41 - Feb 19th, 2016 at 1:39am
 
Also, just a shot in the dark, but some of those enameled sets look like premium sets, especially the brown set with the included stew pot.  Did the enameling company do something unexpected.... and cut the handles off, enamel the handle and then reattach via the tab?  Would there have been production challenges that made something like that viable?  Or, might BSR have made those with a detachable handle, (and with little recollection due to limited production), but designed
for the enameling process?
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #42 - Feb 19th, 2016 at 3:01am
 
All excellent questions to try to find the answers to, Tommy. Smiley

I find the older speckled enamels even more intriguing... Smiley


 

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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #43 - Feb 19th, 2016 at 4:08am
 
I'd think Roesch did this for themselves to sell.
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Re: Enameled BSR items
Reply #44 - Feb 19th, 2016 at 4:14am
 
On the handles, the inside of the lid itself is also different, so on that one  style the lid itself is not a standard BSR lid. On the older style enameled skillets, I could see how that could slip someone's mind,  but the wild ones are from the 60s-70s,, that is recent enough that someone should remember. I  hoping that a magazine or something will show up and explain who made these.
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Re: ASW-BSR Enameled / Porcelain Coated Cookware
Reply #45 - Apr 25th, 2017 at 11:21pm
 
Cornstick Pan
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Re: ASW-BSR Enameled / Porcelain Coated Cookware
Reply #46 - Apr 25th, 2017 at 11:24pm
 
Stove Griddle and Skillet
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Re: ASW-BSR Enameled / Porcelain Coated Cookware
Reply #47 - Apr 25th, 2017 at 11:27pm
 

Skillets
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