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Top 10 Most Collectible Cookbooks

This post focuses on the top 10 cookbooks to make sure to include in a cookbook collection. For someone interested in cookbook collecting, this will give you a head start on the basic books to include as the foundation of your collection. These are the more mainstream cookbooks of the past. They may not necessarily be the most valuable of cookbooks as many antique cookbooks, signed cookbooks and cookbooks of present day often fetch higher prices, but these are are definitely the basis of a solid collection. Some of these books have been reviewed in-depth in this blog with their collectibility ratings for anyone interested in more detail. I have included some of the top-level information for each below as well as links for those which have been rated in earlier blog postings.

1. Betty Crocker's Cookbook

Publisher: General Mills
Copyright: 1969 stated First Edition
Formats: Hardcover and Ring Binder Editions
Average Price: $40 ($50 for stated First Edition in good condition or for a 1972 special Sears Holiday Edition)
Notes: This book is often referred to by collectors as Betty Crocker's "Red Pie" Cookbook due to its pie shaped photo montage cover design. It is loaded with recipes and photos. Recipes are mainly American dishes thought there are dishes from other regions as well.

2. Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook

Publisher: General Mills
Copyright: 1961, First Edition
Formats: Hardcover with a Mondrian style pink, yellow, white and blue cover
Average Price: $45 ($75 for the First Edition, First Printing with a hardcover format)
Notes: Another Betty Crocker classic. I have an earlier (1950) Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book rated on my blog, but the 1961 Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook is the most valuable of all the Betty Crocker cookbooks. It is important to find a good condition copy or the value will go down substantially. With some cookbooks--they are so rare--imperfections can be forgiven, not with this one.

3. Treasury of Great Recipes

Authors: Mary and Vincent Price (the movie actor)
Copyright: 1965, First Printing
Format: Padded bronze/copper colored hardcover, 456 pages, Gilt Lettering
Average Price: $40 (ranges from $30-$90 dependent upon condition and availability in the online bookstore and auction markets)
Notes: This is definitely one of the most beautiful cookbooks published in terms of cover design, material, and detail such as ribbon bookmarks and nice illustrations.

4. Joy of Cooking

Authors: Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
Copyright: 1931, First Printing, First Edition published by A. C. Clayton Printing Co
Format: Blue hardcover with gilt lettering
Average Price: Over $500 for this 1931 First Edition of which only 3,000 copies were printed. The later commercial edition was published by Bobs-Merrill Company in 1936 as were the later editions which came in different cover formats from a white dust jacket to a blue and white cloth cover. The 1936 "First Edition" which is not the true First but First Bobs-Merrill edition is valued at around $50.
Notes: Joy of Cooking is considered by many to be the "bible of American cooking." It is known for its simplistic formatted recipes and is one of the best selling cookbooks of all time. Almost every cook knows of this book or has it on their shelf. Many cookbook collectors will have various editions of the book in their collection--as mentioned above, the book had several cover designs and formats.

5. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Authors: Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck
Copyright: 1961, First Edition
Format: Hardcover with white and red design and blue and white dust jacket.
Average Price: $10-$15 (Julia Child signed cookbook copies $200 - $250)
Notes: This remains the top French cookbook in terms of popularity and recognition. Of note, if there is ever a signed cookbook you'd want to get, Julia Child signed copies of this book sell for some of the highest prices on online book sites.

6. The White House Cook Book

Author: Fanny Gillette, Hugo Zieman (later editions)
Copyright: 1887, First Edition
Format: Hardcover white cloth
Average Price: $75-$150
Notes: I have rarely seen copies of the 1887 edition for sale but early printings shortly thereafter are usually available for sale online. The price above is for the 1887 printing though I think it could fetch in upwards of $150 if a true first in good condition. Other printings sell for around $30-$35. The 1887 edition would be considered rare.

7. Woman's Home Companion Cook Book

Editor: Dorothy Kirk
Copyright: 1942, First Edition
Format: White hardcover with recipe categories in bullet format down the left side of the cover in red and blue lettering for titles.
Average Price: $75 (for the 1942 First Edition)
Notes: This book has over 2,600 recipes which makes it a favorite among collectors and cooks alike. The book's easy recipe format makes it all the more appealing. This book is a good investment for any serious collector as its value will continue to rise as with other classics of this sort.

8. Weight Watchers Slow Good Super Slow-Cooker Cookbook

Author: Weight Watchers editors
Copyright: 2005, First Edition
Format: Softcover cookbook with lime green background on top half, photos of prepared meals on the bottom half.
Average Price: $45
Notes: Though a newer book, unlike the rest on this list, I am including it as it is one of the most sought after cookbooks online. This is certainly the one of the most popular Weight Watchers cookbooks published to date. It is at this point in time, a hard-to-find cookbook and only a limited number of copies are for sale online at any given time. Slow cooking is a popular trend and this book has some wonderful recipes. Because of the limited number of copies for sale, it has gained even more popularity over the past year and its value keeps increasing.

9. Larousse Gastronomique

Author: Prosper Montagne
Copyright: 1961, First Edition
Format: Dark blue, thick hardcover with dust jacket.
Average Price: $12-$15 (the 2001 edition sells for $45-$50 though the one to put in your collection is the original--revised and updated later editions tend to lose value over time)
Notes: This cookbook is probably in a close tie with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in terms of the most popular of French cookbooks. The book has loads of illustrations (over 1,000) and 8,500 recipes in all.

10. The Good Cook Time Life Cookbook Series (set of 28 cookbooks)

Publisher: Time Life
Editor: Richard Olney Copyright: 1979 - Early 1980's
Format: Hardcover books with different colored spines. When aligned you get a kind of rainbow effect on the shelf.
Books in the Series: Beef & Veal * Beverages * Breads * Cakes * Candy * Classic Desserts * Cookies & Crackers * Dried Beans and Grains * Eggs & Cheese * Fish * Fruit * Hors d'Oeuvres * Lamb * Outdoor Cooking * Pastas * Pies & Pastries * Pork * Poultry * Preserving * Salads * Sauces * Shellfish * Snacks & Sandwiches * Soups * Terrines * Variety Meats * Vegetables * Wine
Average Price: $100 - $125 dependent upon condition of the books
Notes: A lot of collectors loves these books as they are no longer in print and it is exciting to try and collect the full set of 28 books. They can be found as a complete set but I think that takes part of the fun out of collecting them. These books are nice as well as they include a lot of color photos in them. In their entirety, they also make a rounded base for cooking as they include a complete set of cooking topics.

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