Cookbook Collecting and Reviews
A Cookbook Village blog written for cookbook collectors and curious cooks. Find out all about collecting cookbooks: used and vintage; reviews and values; recipes and best books to buy for investment.
Seven Must-Have Collectible Cookbook Classics
This is a sequel post to our popular article Top 10 Most Collectible Cookbooks. Included here are the top classic cookbooks from the past that are consistently searched online on CookbookVillage.com used and vintage cookbook webstore. These cookbooks earn their spot on the list as cookbook classics that have been collected by many throughout the years. They are by no means the highest value cookbooks nor are they the trendy cookbooks of the moment. Still, each is a valuable piece of culinary history.
Each cookbook below has some high level details including the book's value. The list is not ordered. You may also notice some key cookbooks like Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and others did not make it onto the list. We purposely did not include any of the cookbooks from our earlier article to avoid duplication.
Further note that most of the below books are part of our inventory when available, but quickly sell out. Be sure to check our site next time you are searching for one of these as we receive new stock all the time.
Author: Ruth Berolzheimer (Editor)
Publisher: Garden City Publishing or Consolidated (two different publishers)
Copyright: 1939 First Edition (may state 1938, but the first edition was published in 1939)
Average Price: $25-$40 (up to $60 for the Victory binding wartime editions)
Notes: This cookbook is at the top of our list for classic vintage cookbooks that stand the test of time. This cookbook is always in demand. As you'll see on our Cookbook Collecting collectibility review of this book, there are many collectors interested in the value and background of this cookbook. There are many editions and bindings of this cookbook which raises a lot of questions about different covers, editions, values, and more.
2. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Author: Better Homes and Gardens (Editors)
Publisher: Meredith Publishing Company
Copyright: 1930 is the first edition. This cookbook was published with several minor variations on the book's title. The cover shown is the most popular of the various covers with the cookware that includes pieces of the title reversed out of the image in white.
Formats: Hardcover (generally a ring-bound binder)
Average Price: $20-$45 for vintage editions -- the 1953 edition is on the high end of the range
Notes: Another popular cookbook classic, Better Homes is one of the cookbooks people love to collect in all its various editions and covers. The cookbook doesn't have as high of a value as some of its equals of the time. However, it is always in demand and many call it their favorite go-to cookbook. If you haven't seen a copy of this book and are familiar with the Betty Crocker's "red pie" cover cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook has a similar style and format.
Author: Good Housekeeping (Editors). Some editions state Dorothy Marsh (Editor)
Publisher: Multiple Publishers (Hearst Corporation, Rinehart & Company, Stamford House, International Readers League, and perhaps others)
Copyright: The book shown in our collectibility review is the 1942 edition. Good Housekeeping began publishing cookbooks in 1906. The earliest edition we know of with the same title is the 1933 edition, but we no longer have one in stock to determine if it's the same content as the later editions and indeed the first of this particular book.
Average Price: $20-$45 for vintage editions. The most valuable editions are the 1944 (top), 1942, and 1933, followed by the black cover 1955 edition.
Notes: Good Housekeeping is literally a household name. We get dozens of requests for specific editions of this truly classic cookbook collectible. Many collectors strive to collect all editions and covers of this book. The value of a single edition isn't particular high, but a nice set of several different editions might double the value if sold as a collection.
4. Meta Givens Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking
Author: Meta Givens
Publisher: J.G. Ferguson Pub. Co
Formats: Hardcover - two volumes (there is also a single book with both volumes). There are dust jackets in the later editions, but the set is not often seen with the jackets intact and they sometimes will take down the price as the books become unrecognizable to purchasers.
Average Price: $20-$40. Condition plays a big role in the outcome of the sale price.
Notes: Though not as widely known as classics like Good Housekeeping or Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, this Meta Givens Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking set is a popular collector's item and very desirable to own as part of a cookbook collection. This type of encyclopedia style cookbook has been published by many, but the Meta Givens set is definitely one of the most desirable, perhaps because of its sheer volume of recipes and information that provide a lifetime's worth of meal choices.
5. The Settlement Cookbook
Author: Mrs. Simon Kander (Lizzie Black Kander)
Publisher: J.G. Ferguson Pub. Co
Copyright: 1901 is the first edition
Average Price: $15-$30. Condition plays a big role in the outcome of the sale price.
Notes: This is perhaps one of the top fundraising/charity cookbooks ever published with many editions being published over the years. It was originally a fundraising cookbook for the Jewish Settlement House in Milwaukee. It ended up being a sort of cooking bible for immigrants coming to America from Eastern Europe. According to an interesting article we found from NPR, the cookbook originally contained few Jewish recipes though many call it a Jewish cookbook. It was evidently revised by Kander over a 40-year period to include foods from around the world, including Jewish holiday recipes.
6. Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook
Author: Ruth Berolzheimer (Editor)
Publisher: Culinary Arts Institute
Copyright:1948 is the first edition. There is a Deluxe edition that was published some time later
Average Price: $15-$20.
Notes: This is the second encyclopedia style cookbook to make our list. This cookbook classic is another must-have for your collection. It is a huge over 1,000 page cookbook volume filled with so many recipes it will make your head spin (in a good way). This is a great book with pictures, instruction, and recipes.
7. 200 Years of Charleston Cooking
Author: Blanche S. Rhett, Letti Gay and Helen Woodward
Publisher: Random House
Copyright: 1930 first edition
Average Price: $30-$40.
Notes: 200 Years of Charleston Cooking is probably the one cookbook to make our list that is more scarce and difficult to find. It's not truly rare, but there aren't mass copies available like there are for many of the other cookbooks on the list. We have been fortunate to have this book appear twice in our store. We include it in this list as it is a solid example of a classic cookbook. It contains a lot of historical information and regional content from Charleston.