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Flight of Gaillard Windsors

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It took me a while to find this set and I am glad I waited.

Flight of Gaillard Windsors

Type Set of five tin-lined Windsors in hammered finish
with an iron handle fitted with three copper rivets
French description Ensemble de cinq sauteuses évasées étamées et martelées
avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre
Dimensions 14cm diameter by 5.6cm tall
(5.5 inches by 2.2 inches)
16cm diameter by 6cm tall
(6.3 inches by 2.4 inches)
18cm diameter by 7cm tall
(7.1 inches by 2.8 inches)
20cm diameter by 7cm tall
(7.9 inches by 2.8 inches)
22cm diameter by 8cm tall
(8.7 inches by 3.1 inches)
Thickness 2.4mm 2.2mm 3mm 2.6mm 3.2mm
Weight 962g
(2.1 lbs)
1210g
(2.7 lbs)
1736g
(3.8 lbs)
2090g
(4.6 lbs)
2544g
(5.6 lbs)
Stampings Gaillard Paris None
Maker and age estimate Gaillard; 1940s-late 1950s
(no “Made in France” stamp)
Source FrenchAntiquity (Etsy)

When I’m having wine or beer it’s fun to try a taste test — for example, different brands of the same kind, or the same brand’s production over multiple years — so I can experience for myself their similarities and differences. I see this group of pans as a sort of flight of Gaillard copper: they were made by the same maker at the same time, but each is its own varietal according to its size. Like a sampling of wine from a vineyard, the pans as a set present an opportunity to observe expressions of Gaillard craftsmanship at a particular point in time.

Flight of Gaillard WindsorsThis set of Windsors carries this simple “Gaillard Paris” stamp that I believe represents post-war production, likely from the 1940s to 1950s. (There is no “Made in France” stamp as one would expect on a piece after 1957 or so.) By that point in time, neither Gaillard nor any of the other French poêliers were using the old methods of hand-hammering, cutting, dovetailing, et cetera; the differences between a Gaillard pan and one of equivalent thickness and construction from Mauviel would be vanishingly subtle. Older Gaillard with evidence of hand-work seems to command a higher price, which makes sense to me, but the Gaillard name on any piece commands a premium over other marques. Again, in terms of construction and performance, there is no real difference between equivalent pans from different makers. (I have a sneaking suspicion that this era of Gaillard is actually Mauviel, but don’t tell anyone I said that.)

All the pans have beautiful hammering. It’s more pronounced on the smaller pots, which also have hammered bases. The 22cm’s base is mirror-flat with no hammering.

 

The internal rivet heads have numbers on them. I measured the diameter of each rivet and I believe the number corresponds to the diameter of the rivet head in millimeters. You can see how the rivet size grows along with the pan diameter (and weight).

 

I found that the 20cm and 22cm diameter pans had the same size handle with a base that is 11cm wide. The rivets themselves seem to be increasing diameter as the pot size increases — corresponding with their own diameter increments — but I didn’t measure them. The compression of the rivet distorts it and I didn’t think it would give me representative diameter values.

The largest of the pans has a slight distortion around the base. It’s hard to capture in a photo, but it looks like a slight bulge in the copper creating a slight ridge running around the base of the pan. My guess is that the hammering compressed the copper; another row of hammering might have evened it out but there does not look to be enough space. Another possibility is that th geometry of the Windsor shape makes for challenges when the pans are deep-drawn in a press (as these no doubt were); consider how a flat sheet of copper would have to distort to form a funnel shape. A paper cupcake cup, for example, has pleats in it to allow it to expand towards the top of the cupcake, but copper would need to stretch and compress. I wonder if this ridge is consequence of those forces.

You will have noticed that the tin looks dirty. It’s not — it’s unused tin with dark patches. These pans are what is termed new old stock, or NOS, which means they’ve been sitting in storage somewhere but have not yet been used for cooking. These pans are about forty years old, which leaves a lot of time for undisturbed chemical reactions; the dark patches are areas of oxidation or possibly something else (alpha tin, which I’m looking into for another post). In my opinion, all these pans need is a good wash with soap and water and they’re ready to use (and in fact the tin has likely crystallized a bit into an optimal condition of hardness). My daily use Gaillard saucepans (cousins to this set!) came to me in the same condition and they have performed fabulously well.

Flight of Gaillard Windsors

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I waited a while for this set of Windsors. I love my Gaillard saucepans of the same era and I held out hope for some time that a similar set was out there in the Windsor shape. I am so grateful for FrenchAntiquity’s indefatigable nature — he is always bringing wonderful pieces and sets of copper to his store, and when I saw these I knew I had to have them.

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5 Comments

  1. Hello, I was lucky these days to buy 3 beautiful hammered Windsor pans (17, 19, 20 cm). They resemble the pans presented here like one egg to the other. However, my Windsors are unmarked – unfortunately! Nevertheless, I am convinced that these are Gaillard products from the last years of production between 1950-80. The pattern of the hammering (martelage), the all-round edge and the partially visible ring-shaped grooves near the bottom, the handles and rivets with numbers – all details correspond to the pans presented here. While the handles of my Windsors are surprisingly well preserved, the hammering is significantly flattened. My pans were used intensively, as evidenced by the darkened but still intact tin.
    What surprises me, neither the VFC/Gaillard pans, nor my wear the additional stamp “Made in France”, which has been mandatory since about 1957/60. Other Gaillard pans from the late years of production have both stamps. This makes me suspect that these pans were made somewhat earlier in the period mentioned.

    1. Martin, I think you’re right about the lack of Made in France pointing to an earlier date for these. At the moment I’m about 90% sure that pans made after 1957/60 or so were required to have that origin stamp; my 10% hesitation is because the laws of nature dictate exceptions. For example, I suspect some Mauviel pans were not stamped Made in France in expectation of a downstream store stamp that would contain it, and some of those may not have ended up with the intended stamp; I also wonder whether the Mauviel factory store in Villedieu was required to have stamped items — would local sales like this be subject to the origin stamp requirement? I just don’t know. But yes, reflecting on this post now, I’m going to adjust my age estimate to earlier. Thanks for that!

  2. The pattern of the hammering of the walls of my Windsors is sometimes more, sometimes less even. However, it is by no means as meticulous and uniform as I know from dozens of Mauviel pans that went through my hands. The size and shape of the individual hammer impressions differ from Mauviel. The bottom of the 20.5 cm Windsor is slightly wavy, you can feel it better than see it. It was probably hammered once and was worn out by a robust use. The hammering of the bottoms of the other two Windsors is clearly visible.
    Dimensions: 20,5×7,5cm 2109g, 16,8×6,2cm 1165g, 18x7cm 1700g.

    1. I think Mauviel had and still has a robust and efficient system for producing hammered items that produces very consistent hammering patterns. I tried a while back to see if I could “read” a hammering pattern and discern the pattern within the pattern, so to speak, but my brain wasn’t up to the task! I shall revisit the idea. I suspect that by the mid-20th century all the manufacturers were using hydraulic hammers to strike the copper, but those hammer heads could be of different shapes, and of course there was an operator holding and shifting the pan under the hammer and each maker likely had its preferred method and speed to do this. Hmmm, more to ponder here! Thank you as always for your thoughtful comments.

  3. I totally agree with you, it is probably the human factor that makes the difference in hammering. In my view, this is very gratifying. Despite the extensive automation of production over the past decades, the hammering process left a certain degree of design in the hands of the craftsmen. When I didn’t know the old, far more hand-made pans, I was thrilled by Mauviel’s pans from the M´tradition series. The precision of the manufacturing and hammering, the sparkle and glow of the copper were the non plus ultra for me. These pots are still beautiful and I like to use them, but now I appreciate every bit more in terms of craftsmanship. And if it is only the small variations in the setting and operation of the hydraulic hammer.

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