When Erik Undiks at Rocky Mountain Retinning worked on this pan for me, he said it was the thickest sauté pan he’d ever handled.
- Type: Tin-lined sauté pan in hammered finish with iron handle and copper rivets
- French description: Sauteuse étamée et martelée avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre
- Dimensions: 36cm diameter by 11cm high (14.2 inches by 4.1 inches)
- Thickness: 4.5mm at rim
- Weight: 11712g (25.8 lbs)
- Stampings: “J & E GAILLARD 81 FAUBOURG ST DENIS PARIS”, “37” and “28”
- Maker and era: Gaillard; antique/Golden Age, 1880–1910
- Source: mauschen62 (eBay UK)
This pan epitomizes what I love most about Gaillard: monumental scale, gorgeous proportions, robust construction, and lavish amounts of copper. If this pan were an automobile, it would be a 1928 6½ litre Bentley Speed Six. (And it’s quite possible this pan is of the same vintage.) Even the handle on this pan is raked back to improve its aerodynamic performance.
As was the case with many of my copper pans, the hunt for it was almost as fun as the actual possession. This pan came from mauschen, an eBay seller in the UK. (I’d link to the store but they’re not listed at the moment.) He (or she) was kind enough to post several pictures of the pan so I was able to assess its condition.
The pan was in good condition but was ready for restoration. The handle in particular is quite rusted, and if left in that state could eventually damage the copper underneath it. If you look closely at where the handle joins the body of the pan, you can see the greenish verdigris where the copper has oxidized. (Verdigris is not a huge deal on the exterior of a pot, but it’s toxic, and if you see any on the inside cooking surface of a pan you should thoroughly clean it off and evaluate whether the pan needs retinning.)
There’s also some inconsistency in the appearance of the rivets, implying that one or more of them has been repaired or replaced. This is not unheard-of for old pans, and particularly big heavy sautés like this one where the baseplate takes a lot of torque. One benefit of copper rivets is that they are malleable enough to spread into the hole into which they are put. In the photo above, you can see how the two rivets to the right were flattened after insertion so that they spread into the hole to give a tight fit. The rivet on the left doesn’t seem to have been mashed in quite so firmly.
The seller helpfully included an interior shot of the same point, and I could see that the leftmost rivet had indeed been replaced, but it was done well but not quite to the same flush fit and finish as the other two. The flush fit of interior rivets is a desirable thing, in my opinion, as it is less likely to catch food or to be scraped. Indeed you can see on the photo below that the leftmost rivet — the non-flush one — has some tin scraped off. According to my informal study, I am coming to suspect that flush-set interior rivets may be characteristic of these early Gaillard pans.
Another positive sign in this listing is that the bottom of the pan is flat and unblemished. Many of my other big pans have dents in the bottom from some kind of kitchen abuse (I can only imagine). This one does not seem to have been subjected to that, but at 4.5mm thickness, it would be pretty resistant to impact.
I asked the seller to send this pan directly to Erik for retinning and he did a fabulous job. The pan was structurally sound to begin with, and the rivets were in good shape, but it was the handle area that needed the most help. Erik got all the rust off and cleared away the verdigris and corrosion around the base of the handle.
Another interesting thing about this pan is that the angle of the handle is flatter than I’ve seen on other pans.
This reduces the overall height of the pan, which is nice. I haven’t seen other sautés (Gaillard or otherwise) with this same low profile.
This is just a lovely pan, a wonderful example of restaurant-grade work by one of the masters of French copperware, Gaillard. I love it and I am proud to have it.