Marg & Larry O’Neil: Welcome to the biggest cast iron collection on the planet
The O’Neil’s beloved Cast Iron Museum is home to over 13,000 pieces of American history
Marg and Larry O’Neil couldn’t have predicted just how far their love of cast iron would take them. The high school sweethearts have been married for 62 years and are former grocery store owners and real estate pros. In retirement, they decided to start collecting cast iron for fun — but things quickly got serious.
Today, the O’Neils have converted their home in Tacoma, Washington into what is affectionately known as the Cast Iron Museum — a home to antique, vintage, rare, and well-loved pieces of cast iron from across the world.
“We’ve got 13,000,” says Marg with a smile. “Give or take a few.”
But like most great collections, theirs started simply enough.
Larry says he bought his first piece in 1957 or 1958, for the simple reason that he needed a good skillet for cooking. “My mother used cast iron all the time,” he says. “She had three skillets hanging on the wall in the kitchen and I asked her for them, and she told me that my sister had already asked for them. I just decided if I wasn’t going to get hers, then I was going to go buy my own.”
Many thousands of pieces later, Larry and Marg’s collection includes cookware and so much more. “I just got involved in it and kept doing it,” Larry says.
The O’Neil collection includes many pieces of Lodge, from skillets to bakeware, that date back generations. Among the thousands of pieces in the museum are unique, decorative trivets — which take up an entire wall of gallery space; a colorful variety of enameled cast iron from across the rainbow and the world; skillets of all shapes, sizes and depths; big dutch ovens that have seen plenty of campfires; and even utensils and bottle openers.
Housing such a large collection is no easy feat. The O’Neil’s have expanded beyond their home into a barn on their property. “I had a whole bunch of cast iron and I didn’t have a whole lot of places to put it,” says Larry. “My son started calling me a cast iron junkie.”
“We’ve had so many people come from all over the United States,” says Marg of their impressive collection.
“To be a good collector, you get a whole handful of marbles and you put them in your mouth. Then you walk around and you spit one out every once in a while. When you lose all your marbles then you become a good collector,” Larry laughs.
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With somewhere over 5,000 pieces of cast iron cookware in his collection, Harold Henry is a keeper of our history
The Story of Our Founder Joseph Lodge
In 1896, Joseph Lodge founded the company that is now Lodge Cast Iron in the small town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
The History of Lodge's Skillet & Egg Logo
In 1973 Lodge created its first official logo. At the time no one imagined the simple black skillet frying a single egg would become an iconic symbol of American-made cast iron cookware.