How to Spot Vintage Le Creuset (& Why You Should)

Ratatouille had a rat — we've got vintage Le Creuset. Discover the classic styles, price points, and hallmarks of France's elite cookware.

Published May 22, 2024
 Le Creuset dutch oven

If the extent of your knowledge of French cuisine is how to obnoxiously pronounce omelette du fromage thanks to that one Dexter’s Laboratory episode, don't worry. You don’t need to be able to cook like Julia Child to treat yourself to a vintage Le Creuset piece. Why spend hundreds on the new stuff when you can cook like the greats with some iconic vintage Le Creuset cookware?

How to Spot Vintage Le Creuset

Le Creuset is the aesthete’s favorite cookware line with its sturdy construction and beautiful array of colors. The French company has been selling its famous cast-iron enamel cookware since 1924. And it’s bigger today than it’s ever been.

But what about the classic Le Creuset pieces — the ones that slid through the cracks when Pyrex and Tupperware dominated your grandparents' kitchen cabinets? Thanks to Le Creuset’s newfound pop culture popularity, they’ve experienced quite a boon. Make sure you pay top dollar for the right pieces by knowing what characteristics to look for.

Look for Loop Handles

Before the round knob handles Le Creuset has today, the company’s lids had loop handles. These are handles that you can pinch between your thumb and forefingers or hook a finger through to pick up and move. Into the later-20th century, you start seeing the knob tops.

Spy the Wooden Handles

In true mid-century fashion, vintage Le Creuset from the 1950s-1970s usually featured wooden handles. Saucepans, fondue pots, skillets, and more had warm wooden handles befitting of the “we could always use more wood” mid-century style.

Check for Ridged Bottoms

If you look at the bottoms of vintage Le Creuset cookware, you may find ridges. These ridges were customary for decades. They’re not too common today, so when you find a ridged piece with these other features, chances are you’ve got an authentic vintage.

Related: 7 Vintage Dishes Worth Money You Might Have in Your Kitchen

3 Features to Help You Authenticate Vintage Le Creuset

You can authenticate vintage Le Creuset pieces in basically the same way you do today. You’ll want to look and see if these three main features are present:

Le Creuset France Round Gratin Casserole

The Le Creuset Name Is on the Bottom

It’s standard for the company to engrave their name on the bottom of their pieces. You should find the entire name spelled out in single-level font without serifs.

The Country of Origin Is on the Bottom

Le Creuset is manufactured in France, and so all genuine Le Creuset pieces should feature either “France” or “Made in France” engraved in the same font and style (though smaller) as the company name. It should also be on the bottom of most pieces.

There’s a Two-Digit Number Present

Another engraved element you can find on real Le Creuset cookware is two-digit numbers. These numbers refer to the item’s diameter. For example, if you find a 16 engraved in the bottom and in the lid, the pot has a 16cm diameter.

Sometimes, you can find these numbers encased in a diamond shape, but if you don’t find a diamond, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s not a real Le Creuset.  

Need to Know

Since Le Creuset is a French company, their number measurements always refer to the metric system. So, calculate the sizes using centimeters, not inches.

Discontinued & Vintage Le Creuset Colors

One of Le Creuset’s genius marketing tactics is its limited color palette. They frequently release limited edition specialty collections and retire colors or patterns to the archive. When looking for vintage Le Creuset pieces, you’ll find many of them in retired colors such as these.

  • Dijon yellow
  • Elysees yellow
  • Emerald green
  • Fennel green
  • Fig
  • Indigo
  • Persimmon
  • Provence
  • Soleil yellow
  • Deep teal
  • Ganache
  • Kiwi
  • Lime green
Need to Know

One vintage color you can still find today is “flame,” a sunset-hued orange-red. It was the company’s first color and remains a staple in their current catalog.

Related: Why Vintage Melmac Dishes Are Mid-Century Classics

Popular Vintage Le Creuset Series

Casual Le Creuset fans are more familiar with pieces by their functions than the designed series on the whole. However, there are two vintage series that are particularly worth knowing.

Raymond Loewy’s “Coquelles”

 Cast Iron Le Creuset 4.5 Cooking Pan, Pot and Lid by Raymond Loewy, Retro Kitchen

Raymond Loewy was a famous mid-century designer credited with multiple accolades, one of which was a series of dishes for Le Creuset including the famous Coquelle. At first glance, they don’t look or feel like they come from Le Creuset. They’re very atomic age in their style (geometric lines that play with proportion and split color schemes) and are a hot commodity on the resell market.

Enzo Mari’s “Mama”

Cocotte Le Creuset 20 vintage Enzo Mari

In the 1970s, Italian designer Enzo Mari redesigned the cocotte. Its most identifiable feature? The new handles. These handles are flat on the top, and slope towards a curved edge that’s perfect for gripping with your fingers. This “Mama” series is also one of the most valuable vintage series you can find on the auction block.

Need to Know

Le Creuset’s Heritage collection releases modern pieces in archival designs. Though they’ll look vintage, they feature modern packaging and crisp, clean enamel.

Vintage Le Creuset Values

Le Creuset isn’t cheap cookware on a good day. Naturally, vintage Le Creuset wouldn’t be cheap either. Vintage pieces' values are heavily dependent on their condition, size, series, and color. At the lower end, vintage Le Creuset pieces can sell for $40-$50, while sets on the higher end can go for $1,000+.

Vintage Le Creuset Recent Sales Prices
1930s Marbeled Grey Cocotte $135.98
1960s Chocolate Brown 5-Piece Collection $800
2-Piece Set Owned by Joan Didion  $2,500

For example, a 5-piece chocolate brown collection from the 1960s sold for $800, while a rare 1930s marbled grey cocotte sold for $135.98. You’d think the older piece would sell for more because of its age. But the larger set and more attractive color are better selling points.

Another thing to consider is who owned the vintage Le Creuset pieces. If pieces have strong provenance and once belonged to a famous person, they can go for quite a lot. For instance, a two-piece set from Joan Didion’s collection sold for $2,500 despite having substantial wear and tear.

La Petite Chaise, Who?

Vintage Le Creuset cookware is stylish, functional, and will help you up your culinary game. Embrace the ratatouille of it all, and hunt down the pieces that speak to your talents. Love a dip? Invest in a good vintage fondue pot. Either way, the dishes you make will have your guests saying La Petite Chaise, who?

How to Spot Vintage Le Creuset (& Why You Should)