Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith, 1911 (public domain)
Over the past few months I’ve purchased three different versions of the Red Riding Hood trivet; all were found on eBay. Their imagery depicts a young girl and a wolf; her grandmother’s house is in the background. For those of you who’d like to review this European fairy tale, here’s a great resource. Little Red Riding Hood
One Size Smaller
Trivets were often used as patterns. Any resulting reproductions would be slightly smaller, due to the shrinkage of molten metal after cooling. Cast iron shrinks 1/8″ (2/16″) per foot; brass and copper shrink 3/16″ per foot.
To check for shrinkage, lay two similar designs top to top and see if one is slightly larger in all dimensions.
Note the measurements documented below. Version #1 is the largest trivet of the three. Coming in at one size smaller is the Virginia Metalcrafters (VM) version. The Sierra Wire Products trivet is one size smaller than the VM trivet.
I hypothesize that Version #1 is the oldest casting. I believe the VM version was made using an original casting as a pattern. And, most likely, the Sierra trivet was made using a VM casting as the pattern.
Version #1: Most likely the oldest casting
I wasn’t expecting to find this trivet on eBay. Could it be one of the original Red Riding Hood trivets?
This design was described by Kelly & Ellwood on p. 151 in A Collectors Guide To Trivets & Stands (T&S): “Measurements (11 3/8″ x 6 3/8″ x 1 1/4″) were taken from a slightly damaged original. No backcoping on the original. Design dates from World War I era.” Note that T&S documents FOUR legs. Kelly & Ellwood rated this trivet as Very Rare.
Details of my trivet:
● Cast iron with FIVE 1 1/4″ tapered legs.
● 11 5/8″ x 6 1/2″, which is slightly larger than the measurements quoted in T&S.
● 1 pound 13 5/8 ounces (T&S reports a weight of 1 pound 13 ounces).
● Flat on reverse, without backcoping; unsigned.
There is a 2 1/2″ long raised, rectangular mark along the center reverse (zoom in on the reverse image above). The eBay seller identified it as an early casting mark. But does it truly represent a wedge mark, or only a ridge in the pattern? Note that the ridge skips across from the house to the back of the wolf; normally a wedge mark (the insertion point of the molten metal) would be continuous. Not being convinced that this was the casting mark, I looked further.
Next I located four small, semicircular areas along the upper right side; two along the handle edge and two nearby along the adjacent trivet body. Although small, I believe these are gate marks. Take a look and see if you agree.
Version #2: Virginia Metalcrafters 9-14
I purchased this Virginia Metalcrafters (VM) cast iron trivet in mint condition, still on the original shrink wrapped cardboard. As with all VM products, their attention to detail and finishing resulted in a quality casting.
● Cast iron with a black finish and four 1″ legs.
● 11 1/4″ x 6 1/4″, making it one size smaller than the previous casting.
● 1 pound 8 3/8 ounces.
● Signed VM 9-14 with the Betty Lamp logo.
This slip of paper (above) was inside the original packaging.
A close-up of the VM logo and lot number 9-14 (below).
Version #3: Sierra Wire Products
I’ve seen this Red Riding Hood trivet by Sierra Wire Products in both cast iron and brass versions. In comparison to the two other castings, this one appears to be of lower quality. This trivet could have benefitted from better finishing work, ie: filing and polishing; many of the edges are rough, bordering on sharp. Ouch!
● Brass with four 15/16″ legs.
● 11 1/8 ” x 6 1/8 “, making it one size smaller than the VM reproduction.
● 1 pound 12 1/4 ounces.
● Signed SIERRA WIRE PROD.
Discovering even more
Do you have a version of the Red Riding Hood trivet not described in this blog post? I’d be interested in hearing from you. Also, I’ve not yet discovered the location of the Sierra Wire Products company or anything else about it and would appreciate your help. Please Contact Me.
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs “Little Red Riding Hood” (1969)
I loved this song as a teenager, so it’s fun to hear it again and sing along!