Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Delineator Cookbook

 We began volunteering yesterday  at "The Bottom Shelf", our library's used book store. Our orientation session seemed thorough and we learned more than a few things. Unaware of behind-the-scenes library technology, we were fascinated by the ISBN gizmo which tells you the estimated value of a book. For example, they scanned a copy of Marie Osmond's first biography and the device told us the book is worth between $.10 and $.90. There are 753,000 copies in the world - not exactly rare. If there's a sudden run on them and the publisher or distributor or book sellers get the current high price, the whole inventory would be worth about $68,000.00. I'm betting even Marie wouldn't invest in them. 

I knew I wouldn't leave without a book. Who can pass by the $.10 rack which is always just outside the door? My total ended up at $7.50 for four books. The most interesting one is New Delineator Recipes.  

Was the Delineator a diet? Or a kind of kitchen appliance? Neither. Turns out it was a magazine launched in 1872 or 1873. Originally it was a fashion magazine intended to market Butterick sewing patterns. The term "Delineator" of course means to "describe" or "outline".

The 1894 magazine cover I found online displays headlines running up the sides of the center design: one is "The game of golf and how it's played."; "Stenography and Typewriting" is on the other side. Golf was a new game in the U.S. having been introduced about a decade earlier. The typewriter was about 20 years old.

The Delineator Cookbook, an off-spring of the magazine, first appeared in 1928. It bore the "Delineator Home Institute" seal. The slogan of the institute was to "investigate, prove and endorse". The equivalent would be the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

The recipes are simple and straight forward. In those days, butchers often gave away liver to their good customers. It was an added bonus. I would have given it right back. 

Quaint food photography for the soup....most of the photos are printed out of register and they're fuzzy. Many of them are styled with everything on the diagonal. I guess that was the latest thing in food photography in those days. 

I'll recycle the book back to the library on my next visit so they can sell it again for $2.00.


  1. Wait ! Don't throw it away. I want it !

  2. Interesting. I like liver but these recipes don't leave much hope of a successful outcome. I especially like the term "accessories" to describe breadsticks, noodles, etc.

  3. I love the soup spelled out with different ingredients. It reminds me of the craft craze of gluing macaroni to things like a cones to make a Christmas tree and then spray painting it gold.
    So happy you're volunteering at the Bottom Shelf. Hope you enjoy as much as I do.