We know the feeling when you see what appears to be a vintage Dutch oven with Vintage Le Creuset markings on the bottom…it may well make your day. These markings will help you distinguish the authenticity and age of your Dutch oven.
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These markings were placed by Le Creuset to identify the item size, yet the importance to collectors cannot be under estimated. Finding a sought after and rare piece of cookware can be worth significant sums of money. There are plenty of collectors prepared to pay for the privilege of adding a rare item to their Le Creuset collection.
How to tell If it is fake with vintage Le Creuset markings
Before we even begin to understand the markings on Le Creuset cookware, we need to establish the authenticity.
If you are looking to buy genuine Le Creuset cookware, you need to look for the tell-tale signs. Over recent years, there has been a rise in imitation products masquerading as the genuine article. This is a real issue as the replicas are significantly poorer in quality and performance. We therefore need to look at genuine vintage Le Creuset markings.
People are being attracted to what would seem like a real bargain. Instead, they are paying a premium price for a non-branded product. You need to be careful, especially if you are buying from somewhere where you cannot physically touch the product.
Potential issues include;
- Poor heat performance.
- Dangerous quality substances.
- Risk of cracking.
- No warranty and risk of injury.
You can however try and limit your risks. One aspect is to take a close look at the lip of the pan. In older Le Creuset’s, they are fully enameled. On newer ones, the primer shows through. On fake versions, you can see the cast iron.
If you are buying online, ask to see real pictures of the bottom of the pan with the vintage Le Creuset markings. They should also have the following;
- The name of Le Creuset
- There should be a double-digit number
- It should have ‘France’ or ‘Made in France’
- It should also have the Diamond mark of Le Creuset.
Le Creuset numbers on the bottom
You will have noticed the numbers and letters molded into the bottom of the pan and the lid. These are often mistaken for a particular production code. This is not the case.
In actual fact, the two-digit numbers are the products diameter or the long dimension. This is based in centimeters and does not include the handles in the measurement. They are not always vintage Le Creuset markings.
Below, I have produced a table that covers the double digits, the size in liters they refer too and how many quarts this equates too.
Le Creuset Round Dutch oven sizes
Le Creuset Oval Dutch oven sizes
One thing that should be borne in mind is that just because two pans may have the same markings, the lids may not necessarily fit each other. Ranges change from time to time yet the numbering remains the same. This is why it can become problematic to find replacements.
Vintage Le Creuset colors and materials
The company is synonymous with the flame color that adorns so many of its products, chosen to resemble the production. For the first 30 years, all the products came in this color only. Therefore, any vintage pieces that are said to be pre-1955 should be this color only.
Anything that is any other color other than flame is not dated correctly. Elysées yellow was introduced in 1956 and other colors followed shortly.
In terms of material design, the 1950’s and 1960’s saw ribbed bases. The handle design changed with looped lid handles replaced by stainless steel or phenolic knobs. The 1950’s saw Raymond Loewy design the iconic Coquelle French oven.
The 1970’s saw the introduction of the new ‘Mama’ series designed by Enzo Mari, famous for its new handle shape.
The 1990’s saw widening in the production range at Le Creuset. New ranges were introduced with new materials used. They included aluminium, stainless steel, silicone, stoneware and textiles.
|1925 to 1939||Production begins at Le Creuset making the world famous enameled cast iron Dutch oven. They all have smooth lids|
|1939 to 1956||All items produced in the same Flame color|
|Late 1950s||The color Elysées Yellow introduced later followed by several others. The Raymond Loewy designed Coquelle French oven is launched|
|1960s||Design changes implemented with looped lid handles replaced by stainless steel or phenolic knobs. Some pieces now feature ribbed instead of smooth bases.|
|1970s||Le Creuset engage Italian designer Enzo Mari “Mama” to design a new series cocotte with new handle shape|
|1980s||New Vitro base enamel introduced for glass stovetops. Designer Jean-Louis Barralt introduces Futura series.|
|1990s||New ranges were introduced with new materials used. They included aluminium, stainless steel, silicone, stoneware and textiles.|
|2000s||Le Creuset expands into new areas developing its cookware range under new ownership. Production doubles in this time and Le Creuset is now a lifestyle brand.|
Other things you should be looking out for. Le Creuset first used the logo with three concentric rings in 1972. If your lid has those, it is no older than 1972.
Le Creuset numbers on the bottom – What if they don’t have them?
If your cookware does not have the numbers on the base, it is more than likely that it is not a genuine Le Creuset article.
Are all Le Creuset made in France?
No, not all Le Creuset products are made in France. All the cast iron products are still made at the original foundry in Northern France. However, stainless steel products are made in Portugal, the stoneware in Thailand and the accessories in China. Items are marked as ‘France’ because the company is French but ‘Made in France’ is restricted to their cast iron products.
When did Le Creuset begin and where do they come from?
Le Creuset began in 1925 and was founded by Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. The company is currently owned by a South African, Paul Van Zuydam. They were formed in 1925 in Fresnoy-le-Grand, Northern France. They still operate from the same site today.
What is Le Creuset made out of?
The core competency of Le Creuset is cast iron. They are world leading experts in casting and they have perfected the difficult process of enameling cast iron.
Over recent years, they have become a lifestyle brand and now offer a wide array of products. Materials used include, steel, ceramics, plastics etc.
Le Creuset knock offs…are they common?
Le Creuset are premium products and they come with a premium price attached to them. When you refer to ‘Knock offs’, it really depends on your definition.
Some low-quality products are branded as ‘Le Creuset’ and sold as such. This is fraudulent activity and many customers have been duped into believing their cookware is authentic.
Alternatively, there are legitimate manufacturers with their own branded goods that replicate the design…obviously without the ‘Le Creuset’ name. This is perfectly legitimate but is termed as ‘knock off’ because it is not viewed as the original company. These products will not perform as well as the originals, however they will perform a given task. Obviously, they are priced lower, in some cases significantly.
What is the Le Creuset diamond mark?
It is a mark branded by Le Creuset signifying its origin.
I hope this information answers your questions about vintage Le Creuset markings. If you have any information to add, leave a comment below. The more information we share, the safer we all are in buying genuine vintage Le Creuset products.
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