May 14, 2011

Five great places to buy vintage cookbooks online

Day 134 of Vintage 365


There's something cyclic about collecting - or at least there is for me. I have a rather broad range of items that, given the time and budget, I could happily collect until the cows come home, however I've found that I grow certain parts of my overall array of collectibles in spurts. One moment I might be mildly obsessed with seeking items to add to my trove of Girl Guide and Girl Scout pieces, the next week I'm spending hours pouring over vintage hats on online.

Naturally many of things I actively gather are vintage. Clothing, magazines, sewing patterns and books are the key yesteryear items that I've been slowly acquiring a selection of over the past several years. Recently, I was bit again by a particular collecting bug again: my love of vintage cookbooks.

As someone who adores cookbooks of all eras (especially those that include personal commentary and/or historical information from the author), it's not all that much of a surprise that I'm smitten with old school cookery books. :)

My collection of these practical, highly engaging books is admittedly very, very modest in size, but that doesn't make it any less priceless to me. From itty-bitty promotional pamphlets to breezily written cook booklets that frequently feature wonderful mid-century illustrations and/or photographs, to hefty classic culinary tomes, my eclectic tastes mean that I'm open to the possibility of collecting just about any sort of vintage (think those from the era spanning 1920 - 1965) cookery related book.

When it comes to sourcing vintage cookbooks, second hand shops, relative's kitchens (or attics!), etsy and eBay are all very good, very logical places to start looking, but if you've presently exhausted those sources or are looking for even more spots to track down vintage cookbooks, the following five websites are all splendid places to find thousands upon thousands of meals worth of diverse vintage recipe books.

-Old Cookbooks: This site definitely has one of the biggest and best selections of used, rare and vintage cookbooks and booklets online, stocking a very impressive collection of over 15,000 titles that are just ready for you to take one or more home. Here you can search by a really good array of subjects spanning holidays to regional cookbooks, all of which are updated frequently.

-Vintage Cookbook: Many topics are covered amongst the wonderful antique and vintage titles listed on this charming site, including children's cookbooks and those featuring recipes from famous restaurants and special places (they even has a tiny selection of the book cookbook accessory, vintage aprons!).

-Abebooks seller Vintage Cookbooks: Housing more books than anyone could read in a thousand lifetimes, the second hand book site is one of the absolute best spots to find used books online, and seller Vintage Cookbooks is an excellent place within Abebook's walls to track down recipes from the past.

-Advertising Cookbooks: According to the homepage of Advertising Cookbooks they "specialize in vintage and modern advertising cookbooks, those recipe booklets, pamphlets and brochures published by food manufacturers to promote their products. Our vintage cookbooks appeal to those who love good home cooking as well as to those interested in collecting cookbooks." Here you can search by product (such as pasta or bacon, or by well known brands including Campbell's, Jell-O, and Pillsbury), making finding exactly what you're looking for all the easier and more enjoyable.

-Cookbookery: With more than 30,000 vintage and modern cookbooks in stock, this immensely well stocked website is truly like a candy store for vintage cookbook collectors! With reasonable prices, a marvelous selection of old school recipe books, and even the ability to request a specific title, this great site is an absolute must for anyone with a passion for vintage cookery books.


The vast majority of the cookbooks for sale on these sites are long out of print. In fact, generally speaking, only a few (massively popular) vintage cookbooks (such the 1950 classic Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook pictured above) have been reproduced in more recent years, meaning that the as time goes on, more and more yesteryear cookbooks, recipe booklets, and promotional pamphlets will become rarer and harder to track down.

This thought - paired with a general love of cooking - is one of the biggest driving forces behind what beckons me to collect old cookbooks. As well I am compelled to give old cookbooks a home because of the fact that they're amazing slices of time and history, as viewed through the eyes (or perhaps more aptly, the stomachs!) of those who cooked for the generations that came before us.

Whether you have three or three hundred vintage cookbooks, their allure is undeniable. You can put them to practical use and try out the recipes they house (while some old school recipes are very eyebrow-raising indeed, others are timeless masterpieces that deserve a place in our modern kitchens) or simply house them on your bookshelf to read and enjoy for their gastronomical history and appeal.

As I'm submerged in a wave of vintage recipe book collecting at the moment, I couldn't let another day go by without sharing these five wonderfully handy websites with all of you. If you're also a fan of collecting vintage cookbooks, what are your favourite spots to source these terrific slices of the culinary past from?


  1. Oh, I absolutely adore vintage cookbooks! I have a very modest collection at the moment, but I'm working on building it up. I ususally find all of mine at garage sales,thrift stores, and goodwill. My most prized piece is actually not even a cookbook, but rather a collection of recipes stuffed in an old recipe box. Some are hand written, some clipped from old magazines and newspapers, torn from cans or boxes, and some were even typed up with an old typewriter- and the coolest thing about them is they're all from so many different time periods. Some I figure were recipes passed down from mother to daughter, etc... some dated in the 20's, 30's and 40's and then quite a few were clippings from several different 50's magazines . :) I found this little treasure stuffed in a bookshelf at the local goodwill one afternoon for less than $2 and spent the rest of the day looking through it and imagining what special occassions each dish was cooked for and , well you get the picture....
    Oh dear, I seem to have typed you an essay! lol, sorry about that sweets. :) I suppose it was just nice to know that someone else shares my passion for collecting.

  2. i love the vintage pamphlets, my kitchen is red and turquoise, so i'm drawn to the ones in those color schemes.

    i have several others though if you'd ever want to swap!!

  3. Consider Cookbook Village for a future list of used cookbook stores. We launched after this article was published and are sorry we missed the opportunity to join this list. We are a boutique-style online cookbook store with a selection of specialty cookbooks. We carry a lot of restaurant, autographed, Junior League, and vintage cookbooks, among other categories. We also have a store blog loaded full of information on collecting cookbooks.