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I'm not much help here, but the best cast iron I've got is a skillet so old and well seasoned, DH bought it for me from a co-worker whose grandfather had died, that the cooking surface is smooth as ice.

I've yet to see a new piece like that. Have you perused the yard/garage sales and thrift shops?
 

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The old brands are Wagner, Griswold and I think West.

Sometimes you will find a old peices with no name.

If the finish of the pan feels like satin


The new cast iron is Lodge and it has a very rough finish
I went to a high quality kitchen store the other day and that what they sold
: I so wanted to tell the owner thats what Wal-Mart sells not some high end kitchen store
:
 

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Le Creuset for new ones. Lodge isn't bad once you get it seasoned right.
I love my Lodge. I love the no-name 20 year old pans at my old job more. Alas.

It has nothing to do with the brand, and everything to do with the care.
 
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