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This is a question My Collection

Do you have display cabinets full of stuff? With it all neatly labelled, cross-referenced and entered into a database. Have you been to a convention? Do other collectors look up to you in awe?

I thought I was above this one. I'm not that autistically geeky that I have a Collection with a capital C. But no, I remembered I'm hoarding away every version of "Inside Macintosh" ever published.

What do you collect? And why? I mean, what makes you do it?

(, Thu 11 Jan 2007, 16:52)
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I collect several specific things, but nothing as passionately as cookbooks.

I have just under 800 cookbooks. My last count was 745 and that was a few months ago; with recent aquisitions, I'd put the current number at around 780.

The collection consists mainly of community cookbooks, vintage(pre-1975 only) and antique cookbooks, and handwritten recipe collections. The oldest positively-dated published book is from 1870, though there is a handwritten book that has a possible date of 1850.

The recipes themselves range from delightful to downright bizarre; among the latter are pork cake(spice cake with ground, cooked pork added), 'breakfast cookies'(like chocolate chip cookies with crumbled bacon instead of chocolate bits), acid phosphate whey('suitable for invalids') and numerous recipes for animals like squirrel, possum and raccoon.

I have cookbooks from Africa, Alaska, Australia, Lebanon, Italy, Tibet, the Netherlands, Japan, the former Yugoslavia and many other countries as well.

The pride of my collection is a recipe box whose contents span forty years in the life of one woman. Tucked inside were old cards, bits of newspaper, bills of sale and so many other things that I was able to put together a fairly detailed portrait of the woman who had created the collection. I'm tempted to make a book out of her recipes; each and every one has been a success.

The only room in our house without cookbooks is the bathroom, and if damage wasn't an issue I'd put up shelves in an instant. My husband doesn't object since I'll cook him any recipe he wants but he does admit that after I die, some research library will be getting a massive donation as he won't even begin to know what to do with them otherwise!

As to why I do it, I blame my love of history. They're a wealth of information and more often than not, a glimpse into the secret, everyday lives of women. Sometimes, recipe collections are the only evidence that these women ever existed at all, and preserving what I can of their lives is deeply important to me.

I inherited my grandmother's cookbook and recipe collection after she died, and I think part of it stems from that -- always having her with me in the recipes she wrote and the notes she made makes me want to salvage the voices of all the otherwise forgotten women in my books.
(, Thu 11 Jan 2007, 20:59, closed)

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