Collecting Depression-era Cookbooks

September 9, 2010 by Kenmore

Do you like to relax with a cup of coffee or tea and read a good cookbook?

I do, too. I like them for the menu ideas, the photos and the tips. I think it’s especially fun to read and collect vintage cookbooks. I also use them creatively as kitchen art – read on and see how.

Looking back at simpler days – like when Mom baked a cake from scratch for my after-school snack – really resonates with how people are feeling in this newly recessionary time. If you want to begin a collection of vintage cookbooks, I’d start with the classics, like the iconic Better Homes & Gardens red-and-white check gingham-cover cookbook. (For a new version, click here.) I also love the original 1953 edition of Joy of Cooking and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her first big title.

My mom had many classic cookbooks from the 1960s and passed them on to me. They’re great, with wonderful cover art. That’s one of my favorite things about old cookbooks – I like the classic and really fun covers. They are pure Americana! For a few dollars, you get a lot of bang for your buck – good reading and great recipes.

You can buy vintage books online or at garage sales and flea markets. Try eBay or local secondhand bookstores. Flea markets and tag sales are great resources too. Books are not expensive, and they add character and personality to your home office, kitchen, even the laundry room.

A great source to check is Old Cookbooks for rare, vintage, used and out-of-print cookbooks. Another fun site is Advertising Cookbooks for vintage recipe booklets and old promotional cookbooks published by food manufacturers.

If you find an old cookbook that’s seen better days, you might consider framing the cover and saving your favorite recipes in a binder. Select your favorite recipes and carefully remove the pages with an X-Acto knife; put the recipes in a binder. Then remove the book covers and pop them into frames. Mount on the wall for a one-of-a-kind display of iconic art from the good old days.

Tell me – what are your favorite cookbooks? Do you have a go-to recipe to share?

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