This is a beautiful example of Mauviel craftsmanship, and looking closely at it, I can make some educated guesses as to when it was made.
- Type: Tin-lined sauté in hammered finish with iron handle fitted with three copper rivets; fitted lid with brass handle fastened with one copper rivet on each bracket
- French description: Sauteuse étamée et martelée avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre; couvercle emboîté avec poignée en laiton munie d’un rivet en cuivre sur chaque support
- Dimensions: 30cm diameter by 9cm tall (11.8 inches by 3.5 inches)
- Weight: 3.4mm at rim
- Thickness: 5370g (11.8lbs) without lid; 6396g (14lbs) with lid
- Markings: “Williams Sonoma France”; “MADE IN FRANCE”
- Maker and age estimate: Mauviel; 1990s to 2007
- Source: Harestew
When Chuck Williams approached Mauviel in the early 1960s as a potential supplier for his fledgling cooking store in Sonoma, he and Armand Mauviel formed a retail partnership that flourishes to this day. There are hundreds of gorgeous French copper pots and pans with the “Williams Sonoma France” stamp that represent the pinnacle of French copper cookware craftsmanship. This sauté is certainly one of them.
The 30cm diameter — 11.8 inches — provides plenty of cooking space. The sauté shape means that the sides rise sharply from the perimeter so there is maximum room for food and liquids.
One benefit of having a big sauté like this is that it can swap in for a skillet. The high walls of a sauté help contain moisture and make for a steamier cooking environment; for some recipes this effect is fine, but other times you may want the greater air circulation of a skillet. But one downside of a skillet is that the low sides can allow oil and liquids to splatter out onto the cooktop. What I’ve found is that a big sauté like this can stand in for a smaller skillet: I can spread things out and get the “dry” performance of a skillet, while the higher sauté sides contain the cooking liquids and make for easier cleanup.
At 3.4mm thick, this is a hefty pan. It weighs 5370g — almost 12 pounds! — without its lid. To manage all that weight, it has a burly iron handle with a broad baseplate and three large copper rivets.
I really love these hammered pans. I count six rows of hammer strikes up the 9cm sides.
Harestew provided a brand-new lid to go with this pan and it’s a beauty. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a lid as mirror-perfect as this one — take a good look at what an unused factory-fresh Mauviel lid looks like.
These Williams Sonoma France and Made in France stamps are dead giveaways that this is a Mauviel pan.
I mentioned above that I can make some guesses about the age of this pan. I can’t be precise about it as I’m still exploring the evolution of Mauviel’s manufacturing techniques over time, but this pan has some elements to it that are worth noting.
First, the base is hammered. At the moment I suspect that the hammered-finish base is an earlier technique, supplanted later by mirror-polish and then brush-polished bases.
Second, the handle has a setback to it: as it rises from the baseplate, it shifts away from the body of the pan. This is a later evolutionary step in Mauviel handle design and was done to accommodate drop-in lids like this one that have a rim that projects a few millimeters beyond the pan body. The earlier handle rises close against the pan body until it clears the rim before curving away, and often collides with the pan lid. As you can see in this photo, this modified design leaves plenty of room for the lid.
So, in sum, this is a pot with an “early” hammered base but a “second-generation” set-back handle. If you were to dangle me over a pit of alligators and demand I estimate the date of this pan, I’d say it was most likely the 1990s up to 2007. It was in the early 2000s that Mauviel began developing its own retail brand with Mauviel stamps and the “Mauviel 1830” brand, so I’d date this pan to earlier than that. Obviously, I have a lot to learn here. If you happen to be familiar with Mauviel’s manufacturing techniques over time I would be very grateful to hear from you.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here, enjoying this new-to-me pan!