Object Name: Spider with lid
Dimensions: Overall: 6 1/4 x 17 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. ( 15.9 x 43.8 x 24.1 cm )
Place made: North America, U.S.A.
Description: Cast iron spider (footed skillet) with a flat bottom, slat sides, three splayed legs (triangular in section) and a long, brazed handle; slightly domed lid with central D-shaped handle, triangular in section, and erect rim.
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Object Number: 2477
A spider (also called a spider skillet, spider pan, or iron spider) was an iron vessel with three splayed legs and a long handle used for hearth cooking. The footed skillet or frying pan would be set over a small pile of coals pulled out onto the hearth from the fire. Additional coals could be placed on the lid of this particular example. The basic design of these cooking vessels originated in Europe and remained unchanged throughout the eighteenth century in North America. The use of the term "spider", presumably for its similarity in appearance to an arachnid, is distinctly American in origin. By the end of the nineteenth century, spiders—restyled without legs for the stove top—were still in use called by their old name.
Krohn, Deborah, Peter Miller, and Marybeth De Filippis, eds., "Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick." New York: Bard Graduate Center, New-York Historical Society, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009, p. 302
"Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margarita van Varick," Bard Graduate Center, New York, NY, September 18, 2009-January 24, 2010.