Friday, 22 September 2017

J. Nodarse

"And if I came to your door late at night with the promise of racing dragons in the moonlight, would you laugh and call me insane?
Or would you take my hand and follow me to wonderland?"
-J. Nodarse

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks

Move over Hemingway, Steinbeck and Twain. Humble cookbooks have become highly desirable in the book collecting world.
The American cookbook genre truly began in the 1700s with two titles that can claim to be America’s first cookbook – The Compleat Housewife by William Parks (1742) and American Cookery by Amelia Simmons (1796). The Compleat Housewife was derived from an English book, while American Cookery - which is still in print today - features recipes using solely American produce.
Many collectors are drawn to these older books because they catered for kitchens before electricity, microwaves, and refrigerators. Their recipes reflect dishes, ingredients and styles of cooking that have been forgotten.
Cookbooks from the 1700s to 1850s can command four-figure prices, but anyone interested in starting a collection can easily target the 1950s and 1960s - when America’s cooking culture exploded - without breaking the bank. By targeting these decades, collectable cookbooks can be snapped up for $50 or less.
The 1950s and 1960s saw countless cookbooks roll off the printing presses, most of which are now out-of-print, and that gives collectors huge scope. Aside from titles written by TV chefs like Julia Child, even food manufacturers, like Pillsbury, and appliance makers produced cookbooks to help market their products. These are highly sought after now.

Vintage Cookbooks

Le Patissier Royal Parisien by Antonin CarêmeLe Patissier Royal Parisien
by Antonin Carême
American Cookery by Amelia SimmonsAmerican Cookery
by Amelia Simmons
Celebrities also realized they could exploit their fame through cookbooks and this led to titles such as A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent and Mary Price published in 1965 (copies range from $10 to $250 on AbeBooks).
Even the most widely used cookbooks from the 1950s and 1960s can command high prices. Good condition copies of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Bookare highly prized (prices range from $10 to $450 on AbeBooks). First published in 1950 and reprinted many times, buyers recall their mother or grandmother using the book so there is a sentimental attraction. The key is finding copies in decent condition because they were essential items in many kitchens. The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer is another hot property - prices can exceed $4,000 for 1931 first editions.
One of the most appealing genres is locally produced cookbooks that have small print runs and are often published by church groups or charitable organizations.  1961 editions of The Gasparilla Cookbook, which features recipes from Florida’s west coast, by the Junior League of Tampa can be found for a few dollars. Prized for highly original recipes, these books often support an ethnic style of cooking, perhaps Polish or Norwegian cuisine, even though the readers were far from their ancestral homeland.
Collectable cookbooks can range from high camp, Liberace Cooks! Recipes from his Seven Dining Rooms by Carol Truax, to the downright bizarre, Lowbush Moose (and other Alaskan Recipes) by Gordon R Nelson.
Despite the demand for rare cookbooks, it is suspected many collectors do not actually cook from their purchases. They could be fascinated with recipes of the past (The American Lady's System of Cooking Containing Every Variety of Information for Ordinary and Holiday Occasions by Mrs TJ Crowen from 1850), attracted to beautiful illustrations (The Chinese Festive Board by Corinne Lamb from 1935) or simply interested in bygone lifestyles (A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron from 1917).
The sheer array of cookbooks is daunting to the first-time collector so it is advisable to specialize in a single genre or ethnicity, or to collect the work of a particular author or group of writers from a region or period.
The demand for rare cookbooks is fuelled by the fact they are so hard to find, especially in good condition. Once a book has gone out-of-print, it becomes increasingly difficult to find and its value increases as it becomes more collectable.
Condition is the key factor. Look for a pristine copy that appears to have been lovingly read rather than one that has endured the heat, liquids and dirty fingerprints of a working kitchen. Is it signed by the author or someone of note? Does it have a dust jacket? Is it a first edition? Is it out-of-print? These are all important factors to take into consideration before purchasing.

Modern Cookbooks to Collect

Momofuku by David ChangMomofuku
by David Chang
The Smitten Kitchen by Deb PerelmanThe Smitten Kitchen
by Deb Perelman

Vintage Cookbooks That Don't Cost an Arm and a Leg

The Book of Good Neighbor Recipes by Maxine Erickson (1952)The Book of Good Neighbor Recipes
by Maxine Erickson (1952)
Mushroom Cookery by Rosetta Reitz (1945)Mushroom Cookery
by Rosetta Reitz (1945)
Clementine in the Kitchen by Phineas Beck (1943)Clementine in the Kitchen
by Phineas Beck (1943)
Good Simple Cookery by Elisabeth Ayrton (1958)Good Simple Cookery
by Elisabeth Ayrton (1958)
The ABC of Cookery by the Ministry of Food ( 1945)The ABC of Cookery
by the Ministry of Food (1945)
The Way to Cook by Philip Harben (1948)The Way to Cook
by Philip Harben (1948)
The Up-to-Date Sandwich Book by Eva FullerThe Up-to-Date Sandwich Book
by Eva Fuller (1909)

Top 10 Most Expensive Cookbooks Sold on AbeBooks

  1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volumes 1&2 by Julia Child - $7,500
    First editions of both volumes of this classic cookbook, this copy was inscribed by coauthor Simone Beck "Bon Appetit to Madeline Julia Child" and also by Child "Bon Appetit Julia Child."
  2. Les Diners de Gala / The Dali Cookbook by Salvador Dali - $5,000
    Published in 1973, this beautiful book was designed and illustrated by Dali. This copy was also signed by Dali in felt tip.
  3. Le Patissier Royal Parisien, ou Traité élémentaire et Pratique de la Pâtisserie ancienne et Moderne, de l'entremets de Sucre, des Entrées froides et des socles by Antonin Carême - $4,528
    The first book written by the man credited with the creation of haute cuisine. First published in 1815, it contained 32 plates and was bound in sheepskin. This book laid the foundations for the modern kitchen.
  4. The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse - $2,875
    A first American edition of Glasse's classic book. First published in 1747 in England, the American edition was adapted slightly for recipes suited for Virginia's warmer climate.
  5. Modern Cookery in All Its Branches by Eliza Acton - $2,712
    Described in the book's subtitle as "Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, for the Use of Private Families., In a Series of Receipts, which have been Strictly Tested, and are Given with the Most Minute Exactness." Acton introduced the now-universal practice of listing ingredients and cooking times for recipes.
  6. American Cookery, or, The Art of Dressing Viands by Amelia Simmons - $2,505
    First published in 1796, this was the first known cookbook written by an American, and contained the first printed substitution of American cornmeal for British oats. Only four copies of the first edition are known to exist. This was a later edition.
  7. Le Viandier de Tailevent by Guilaume Tirel - $1,950
    Published in two volumes, this association copy was signed in pencil on the half-title by the famous chef and owner of El Bulli, Ferran Adrea. Tirel (1310-1395) was the cook to the Court of France around the time of the Hundred Years War and Philip VI's head chef. This book contained the first detailed description of "entremets" (a small dish, dessert or action which signals the end of a course during a meal).
  8. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child - $1,795
    First edition presented to the Pasadena Star News at the book's launch party in Pasadena, Child's home town. Inscribed by Child and coauthor Simone Beck.
  9. La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise by Menon - $1,751
    This was an anonymous translation of Menon's La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise (the French Family Cookbook) that was originally published in 1746. This is arguably one of the most influential cookbooks in history.
  10. The Cook's Own Book by A Boston Housekeeper (aka Mrs. N.K.N. Lee) - $1,750
    This classic American cookbook was published in Boston in 1832. A complete Culinary Encyclopedia for cooking meat, fish, and fowl, and composing every kind of soup, gravy and pastry preserves.

The meadow

There's a meadow past the village
On a hill...where magic swarms
You can see it on a summer night
When the clouds predict the storms
Life from time eternal
Starts appearing in the field
Gnomes and bluebell fairies
and the magic that they yield
You can see them from the village
Dancing in the moonlights glow
You can see the lightning jumping
You can see the ebb and flow
The pixies and the fairies
Folk who are part of their own world
Light up the distant meadow
As the magic is unfurled
Daisies and soft bluebells
fill the meadow in the sun
there is clover and some dragonflies
And young children having fun
The magic folk are hiding
Lights are hid, and tucked away
Until the humans in their world
Pack to end the day
It's then, from down the village
That the meadow lights begin
Where the magic lights the sky up
In the early gloaming din
If a human breaks the borders
Coming out and much too near
The lights go dark...and silent
For the magic world has ears
There are sentries in the meadow
All unseen to you
That alert the makers of the lights
When the humans are in view
there is magic in the meadow
magic lanterns are set free
where the world becomes a canvas
Of dancing lights for all to see
By roger turner
Art Charlotte Bird

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Shadows of the Night

Shadows darting here and there
Whispers echoing through the air
The Gentle wind sighing in delight
Under a starry, moonlit night.
Dormice rustling leaves for food.
Wide eyed owl in grumpy mood
Brushtail fox goes walking by
Brock the badger gives a sigh
Birds are sleeping in the trees,
Hedgehogs playing hard to please
Squirrels stealing nuts to store
Witches broomstick on the floor
Ripples swirling on the lake
Frogs and toads looking out to mate
Fish swimming round all half asleep
As lizard like newts night watch do keep.
The Shadows dart from pace to place,
The spider spins her web of lace,
These are the shadows of the night.
Before the dawn and morning light
Cockerel crows to say it’s dawn.
The birds dawn chorus wakes us all
The animal world has gone to bed,
The shadows of thee night have fled.
Barbara Brewin (c))
Art Amanda Clark

Friday, 15 September 2017

A Beginner's Guide to Medieval Manuscripts

Sandra Hindman is a leading expert on Medieval and Renaissance manuscript illumination. Professor Emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures, Sandra is author, co-author, or editor of more than 10 books, as well as numerous articles on history, illuminated manuscripts and medieval rings. AbeBooks posed a number of basic questions about medieval manuscripts and Sandra was kind enough to answer them.
AbeBooks: What are medieval manuscripts? Should we think of them as books or something else?
Sandra Hindman: "Yes. They are books written by hand (manu=hand; scriptus=to write). They are not printed."
AbeBooks: What was the typical production process in creating a medieval manuscript?
Sandra Hindman: "It wasn't easy to make a medieval manuscript. Specially treated animal skins, or parchment, were cut, stacked, and folded in half to form 'gatherings.' After ruling, a scribe wrote the text, and artists decorated and illuminated the sheets. Arranged in sequence, the gatherings were sewn, then threaded through channels in wooden boards, to make up the front and back covers of the binding.
AbeBooks: We think of monks toiling away to make medieval manuscripts. Is this true?
Sandra Hindman: "Only partially. Before about the year 1200, medieval manuscripts were made in monasteries by monks and sometimes nuns, who were scribes and artists working in the service of God. After around 1200 with the rise of towns and the growth of a money economy, production shifted to city centers. In places like Paris, Oxford, and Florence specialized professionals in the book trade (scribes, artists, binders, publishers) belonged to guilds and were paid for their work."
An illuminated psalter (a book contained psalms) manuscript on parchment from Southern Germany circa 1240-1260 offered by Les Enluminures for £134,650
AbeBooks: The medieval period spans from the 5th to 15th centuries - how is it possible that manuscripts from this period have survived so long?
Sandra Hindman: "Parchment is a much more robust support than our modern paper. The natural ingredients of the ink and pigments were mineral or vegetable products, resistant by their very composition to change. Stored shut within hefty bindings, the text and paintings of medieval manuscripts were well protected from the elements. Made to last, medieval manuscripts were treasured."
AbeBooks: Who owned medieval manuscripts considering few people could read at this time?
Sandra Hindman: "More people than you think. Churchmen and women, royalty and aristocrats, but also, by the end of the Middle Ages, 'ordinary people,' like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even merchants. If 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' some people who owned medieval manuscripts may have just admired them for their pretty pictures. The same is true now."
AbeBooks: What typically happened to a medieval manuscript once the original owner died?
Sandra Hindman: "If a manuscript belonged to a monastery it often stayed there for centuries, if to an individual it passed by inheritance through generations of family members. It is rare to find a medieval manuscript with an unbroken chain of ownership. But, it happens. Signatures, book plates, and other annotations within books themselves often have much to tell us about the 'life' of the manuscript.
A breviary (a book containing text for worship) from Northern Italy, illuminated on vellum, dated 1456, offered for sale by Les Enluminures for £46,000.
AbeBooks: Surely medieval manuscripts are written in Latin?
Sandra Hindman: "Not always. Latin is the language we find most often in medieval manuscripts, because it was the common language of the Church and of higher learning. But, you can also find medieval manuscripts containing histories, treatises, and poetry - even prayers and devotional writings - in native vernaculars such as medieval French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish."
AbeBooks: What is the oldest manuscript that Les Enluminures has handled?
Sandra Hindman: "Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls - twice (do these count?). Dating from Jesus' lifetime, they are the most celebrated archaeological find ever made. Also, the Liesborn Gospels, a manuscript from c. 980 made for an abbey in Westphalia and purchased from us by the German state in 2017 for three million Euros to return it to that abbey's museum."
AbeBooks: We often see the term 'illuminated' - what does it mean? And how is it done?
Sandra Hindman: "The term 'illuminated' comes from the Latin verb illuminare, meaning 'to light up or illuminate.' An illuminated manuscript is one whose pages shine with decorations of gold and bright colours. To create an illumination, which could be an initial, a border, or a full-page picture, the artist would typically start with a simple drawing outlined in lead or ink, add gold leaf, and, finally, fill in the outlines with paints. The rich hues of the paint derived from a variety of sources, including ground up minerals (like azurite or lapis lazuli) and plant extracts.
AbeBooks: The gold in illuminations catch the eye. How was it done?
Sandra Hindman: "Yes, artists used real gold to make illuminated manuscripts. Leaf gold was beaten into tissue-thin sheets, then stuck on the page with clay or gesso (a mixture of animal glue, chalk, and white pigment). Using the tooth of a wolf or dog, the artist polished the gold until it shone brightly. Artists also used shell (or liquid) gold composed of particles of gold held in suspension so it could be painted directly on the page."
A Vulgate Bible (the standard Latin translation of the Bible by St. Jerome in the 4th century), an illuminated 13th century manuscript offered by Les Enluminures for £178,200.
AbeBooks: Was there anyone particularly famous for being great creators of manuscripts?
Sandra Hindman: "The Limbourg Brothers (artists of the Très Riches Heures), Jan van Eyck (perhaps the artist of the Turin Milan Hours), Albrecht Dürer (artist of Emperor Maximilian's Prayerbook). Are they famous enough? There is of course the Da Vinci Codex (with drawings, not technically illuminations) bought by Bill Gates for more than $30 million. Surely Leonardo counts!"
AbeBooks: Another common term is 'Book of Hours.' What are they and why were they so popular in the Middle Ages?
Sandra Hindman: "Books of Hours take their name from the arrangement of prayers within them for recitation during the 'hours' of the day, and they center on the story of the Virgin Mary and the life of Christ. The Book of Hours was the first text read all across Europe by all people at every level of literacy. Its words reached an enormous audience, more than any written text had ever done. It was the book from which medieval children were taught to read. It was a text which most people knew by heart. It was a picture book, then and now. Luxurious examples that are widely known include the Très Riches Heures for Jean, Duke of Berry. Even today, there are more Books of Hours in circulation than any other type of medieval manuscript."
AbeBooks: Christianity appears to be the main theme of European medieval manuscripts. What other topics were covered in these manuscripts?
Sandra Hindman: "Think of a topic and I will find you a medieval manuscript on the topic. The Seven Liberal Arts - grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. Birth and death, war and peace, love and marriage, eating and drinking, all aspects of daily life and pastimes, including gardening, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, games, fashion. Possibilities abound."
AbeBooks: "Fantastic and mythical beasts seem to pop up regularly. Why is this?
Sandra Hindman: "They are infinitely amusing, aren't they? Were they entertainment for the artist or the reader? Or, symbolism laden with hidden meanings? Take your pick. But, enjoy them!"
AbeBooks: What about manuscripts in other parts of the world during this era? The Muslim world, China...
Sandra Hindman: "Certainly there are Arabic, Coptic, Burmese, Sanskrit, Japanese, and many other types of manuscripts. Les Enluminures is highly specialized, however, and deals only with Western European manuscripts (along with some Hebrew and Greek manuscripts)."

Curated Manuscript Collections from Les Enluminures