Vintage cookbook collecting has been gaining in popularity in recent years, and a lot of people start with the cookbooks their mothers or grandmothers used. When you’re ready to broaden your collection, the many cookbook subgenres provide cooks and collectors with a wide variety of themes to choose from. General or basic cookery books were often among the first gifts a new bride received. Examples include the Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook and Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking. In addition to recipes for all courses and food groups, they often contained instructions for beginner cooks, reference tables and household advice.
Specialized cookbooks might focus on a specific ingredient (poultry) a particular class of food (vegetables), or a particular cooking method (baking). Ethnic and regional cookbooks offer recipes themed around a particular country (France), region within a country (American South) or ethnic style of cooking (Jewish). Some collectors are particularly keen on fundraising cookbooks, so called because they were often assembled from recipes contributed by church or community members and then sold to raise money for an institution.
One particularly interesting area of collecting focuses on food and product advertising cookbooks. These ranged from small folded recipe leaflets that were tucked into product packages to illustrated magazines or small hard cover books available for a fee. Some endorsed a particular product (canned milk or baking powder) while others were offered by non-food companies, such as department stores or insurance agencies, as customer appreciation “giveaways.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when large printed cookbooks were scarce or simply too costly for the average household, many housewives relied on these little advertising cookbooks to guide them in the preparation of family meals, while also instructing them in the rules of table setting and service.
No matter what you’re craving, chances are there’s a cookbook to satisfy your appetite! Stop by The Cookbook Maven to see our current selection.