I think there was a sweet spot in Gaillard production during the first two decades of the 20th century.
- Type: Tin-lined rondeau in hammered finish with brass handles fastened with three copper rivets; original fitted lid with brass handle fastened with two copper rivets on each side
- French description: Rondeau étamé et martéle avec poignées munies de trois rivets en cuivre; couvercle emboîté originale avec poignée munie de deux rivets sur chaque côté
- Dimensions: 40cm diameter by 11.5 cm tall (15.7 inches by 4.5 inches)
- Thickness: 4mm at rim
- Weight: 10730g (23.7 lbs) without lid; 13128g (29 lbs) with lid
- Stampings: “J. GAILLARD 81 FAUBG ST DENIS PARIS”; “40”; “R” on body and lid
- Maker and age estimate: Gaillard; 1920s
- Source: lazylou2002 (eBay UK)
For a period of time in the early 1900s Gaillard produced glorious 4mm thick pans the likes of which I have not seen before or since. While there are hand-raised and dovetailed pans that are 4mm in the base, the pans of which I speak are not dovetailed but instead formed from one piece of copper shaped by a metal press. Unlike dovetailed or hand-raised pieces that taper to a lesser thickness, these single-piece pans are uniformly 4mm thick.
I believe these pans were made from about 1905 to the mid 1920s. My hypothesis is that during this period of time multiple factors came together to make it possible and financially feasible to make and sell pans like this: copper in plentiful supply in rolled sheets of 4mm thickness; metal presses powerful enough to shape copper this thick; a thriving fine-dining industry in Europe that created demand for super-quality copper; and the peace and prosperity of the waning years of the Belle Epoque that endowed Europeans with disposable income to create demand for all this.
This rondeau is one of them and it is a gorgeous piece of work.
The brass handles are classic French style. The scratch marks on the surface are from a metal file that the craftsman used to smooth the surface of cast brass.
The lid of this rondeau is a work of art in and of itself. It weighs almost 2400g (almost 3.9 pounds) on its own; I was able to fit my calipers around the lip and it measured 1.7mm thick, which is a substantial amount of copper for a lid. This mass of copper will make a contribution to the thermal performance of the pan by helping to spread and retain radiant heat from the cooking food.
The lid has a significant drop of 1.5 centimeters so that it settles deeply and creates a good seal with the pan. This lid was made for this pan but it does not have a tight fit; rather, the weight of the lid helps the flange around its edge sit firmly against the rim of the pan.
The lid’s brass handle has two rivets on each bracket, as is often the case with heavier-weight Gaillard pans.
The pan has three stamps on it: “J. Gaillard” for its maker, 40 for its diameter in centimeters, and a small capital “R” for its owner on both pan body and lid. At the moment I believe this style of Gaillard stamp corresponds to production in the 1920s just after Jules Gaillard parted ways with Émile Gaillard.
I sent this rondeau to Rocky Mountain Retinning for restoration and Erik Undiks did a marvelous job with it. The rondeau looked to be in fairly good physical shape in the listing photos but the tin needed replacement. I bought this pan from lazylou2002, an eBay seller located in the UK who, in my experience, locates and lists some very high quality French copper.
In my experience, true 4mm pans are few and far between. I am really grateful to have this one, and to Rocky Mountain Retinning for restoring it so beautifully.