Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Vintage Treasure: notes from a 1909 cookery class

Hi you.

It's September 17th 1909...

In London the Selfridges department store has only been open for 6 months, and newer still is the Victoria & Albert museum.  Louis Bleriot has only just crossed the English Channel in a biplane and while it'll be 5 years before such planes are put to work in the First World War, closer to home there's another war raging. In the women's suffrage movement - on this very day - the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes has just begun.

But at the same time, on the same day, another woman, possibly a schoolgirl - although we don't find out her name - takes out a new notebook, picks up her pen and begins taking notes on a cookery class, starting with a recipe for 'Beef Olives' ...
First page. Vintage handwritten cookery book.
And so begins the first entry on the first page of this wonderful vintage notebook which, at over 100 years old, is a true, antique treasure.

[If this notebook steals your social-history/food-loving heart then it can be yours. Head here to make it yours. Edited to add: this lovely thing is now heading to a new owner, on a different continent and so its 116 year journey rolls onward ...]
If you're a cook / baker with an interest in history, you'll love leafing through recipes which take up 8 pages /16 sides in the handsome E.J.Arnold & Son notebook.
And if you're a food blogger then just imagine blogging the process of following and sharing each of the [approx 28] recipes inside! Wouldn't that make an interesting blog series!! Kind of an antique take on the 'Julie & Julia' blog!

The beautifully hand written script details the ingredients and instructions to make a variety of dishes such as:

Chester Pudding:
And also Bishop's Pudding, Sultana Cake, Shortbread, Chicken Coquettes, Rissoles, Potato Soup,
Welsh Cheese Cakes, Pork Pies, Sausage Rolls, Apple Fritters and Lemon Tarts:
Who knows what happened to the young woman who took these notes ...

  • Did she make these dishes for her husband before he picked up his uniform and headed to the trenches? 
  • Did she get a job in a stately home feeding her recipe for 'Filleted Plaice' to the likes of Lady Mary at Downton Abbey? 
  • Did she have daughters with whom she shared a celebratory 'Steamed Sultana Pudding' the day - 19 years later - that all women received thevote? 
We'll never know ... but we can enjoy speculating!

And, if you did make this book your own [now sold] you can always make your own history inside it by continuing the book where it left off: the second half of the book, the remaining 8 leaves have been left blank ...
... so perhaps they're just waiting for you to complete them with your own recipes, or memories, or art work?

Or else you can just continue to keep this piece of social history safe and sound ... and maybe even keep it alive by trying out some of the recipes from time to time!

And with this handsome illustration from the back cover ...
I'll close the book.

Thanks for stopping by to browse another of my vintage treasures today.



  1. How do you find them! This is such a treasure ... I love looking at the wonderful handwriting from earlier eras. I am glad it found its way to you, someone who truly values it :).

  2. How do I find them? This one came from an antiques shop but I'm *always* on the alert for a papery corner sticking out from a shelf or an old damp cardboard box in second hand shops, car boot sales, collectors fairs etc etc. You never know what's inside and - even if it's blank - that's great too! Then someone can fill it themselves!

  3. I've google to look and read old dairies and letters.

  4. It's a truly lovely thing. You know how much I adore thinking what the story might be

  5. How unique and brilliant is this book? I love how you've linked it with history so beautifully Julie


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