Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Aug 9, 2007 07:05 AM

Collectible cookbooks

After finding out about The Last Course from a poster on this website, I began to wonder about the extreme prices of these books. What about MTAOFC by Julia Childs or other cookbooks.
What are the titles of your collectible cookbooks; worth now versus cost you paid?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have a few out of print cooking/baking books besides The Last Course that are now selling for more than the original cover price:

    The American Boulangerie, Pascal Rago
    Great Italian Desserts, Nick Malgieri
    Cocolat, Alice Medrich
    Cookies and Brownies, Alice Medrich
    Tsukemono, Kay Shimizu

    These are the ones I know of off hand. But they are mostly selling for prices in the $50s, some may go up to the $90s at times depending on availability. The Last Course is the only "cookbook" I currently own that is currently listed for such high asking prices.

    It's worth noting that the reverse is more often true - that books significantly drop in price as they reach the secondary, used market. Besides the fact that almost all books are offered on Amazon initially for 30% to 40% off the cover price, perfectly fine used books can often be picked up at a fraction of their original asking price from places like Amazon sellers. I would never have been able to afford the collection I currently own if it wasn't for this. The trick is to buy the used "like new" book BEFORE the book goes out of print.

    11 Replies
    1. re: flourgirl

      There is the trick! But it would be nice if the cookbooks all had excellent recipes and weren't collectible only. Is that what you are finding with those listed - great recipes?

      1. re: itryalot

        Believe me I am very choosy about the books that go into my collection. There's no point in collecting a cookbook if it isn't a particularly good one. I am very proud of my personal library and I am extremely confidant that it is a very fine collection.

        And I think you may have misunderstood some of what I said on the other thread. Provenance is important but still secondary to the quality of the material itself. I doubt too many people would be willing to shell out major bucks for a cookbook that didn't deliver, no matter how well known the author was, etc.

      2. re: flourgirl

        Hold on to that copy of The Last Course by Fleming, the price offered on Amazon is $200! Like they say, buy low, sell high.

        My collection of hard-to-find, out-of-print & collectibles includes:
        Classical Cooking The Modern Way by Eugen Pauli
        Kids In The Kitchen by Edge & Leitz
        Book of Tarts by Maury Rubin
        Cooking With Tea by Robert Wemischner

        On my wish list are such outrageously over-priced used books:
        Village Baker by Ortiz, which was once priced over $100 bucks!
        The Book of Soups by the CIA at $90
        The Pound Cake Book by Bibb Jordan, which is nowhere to be found
        The Brown Derby Cookbook at $95
        The Taste of Bread by Calvel at $96
        Gimme a break!
        But I check the prices daily and hope grab them up at a decent price. True, if it wasn't for the downtown Los Angeles library culinary section and purchasing used books on Amazon and at thrift stores, I never would have gotten through culinary school. Most required texts and recommended reading on the syllabus start at least in the $100 range. Bon chance!

        1. re: la vida dulce

          i used to have quite a few cookbooks,but not the ones you mentioned.
          Most of mine have been paper covers,some hard covers.
          Like A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband,by Helen Cowles LeCron
          Jello cookboolets from the 1930s,etc.
          Most of these older books are fairly cheap and I have bought some from used book dealers or got them at the Brandeis university booksales they used to have at Central park Mall in San Antonio.
          Don't know if they have the booksales here in town anymore since the mall closed a couple of years ago.Found some good books there.Goodtimes,goodtimes.

          1. re: HollyDolly

            Good times indeed! Gotta love those old cookbooks and booklets. On line I found one of the very first I owned as a kid, a spiral bound Betty Crocker's Good & Easy from the 1950's. It was a hand-me-down, but I love it. Those old cookbooks are such fun to read. So are the fund-raiser cookbooks. In those old timey books and booklets I have found some near-replicas of my aunts', grandmothers' and my mom's recipes, stuff those dear ladies took with them into the afterlife.
            Big hint: If you have treasured cookbooks and recipes in your family, start asking your relatives for them NOW, before it's too late.

            1. re: la vida dulce

              Live and learn. My godmother, mother (her cousin) and I spend 5 days on a cooking binge trying to recreate my grandmother, and my mom's aunt's recipes. We kept my gradma's recipe notes; like a good Italian woman and a wonderful cook and baker that she was, there were no measurements or quantities, only a list of ingredients in her broken english. :(
              That week, I took digital photos and copious notes of my mom making her traditional goodies; she asked me if she was dieing and someone forgot to tell her! (lol)

          2. re: la vida dulce

            Yes, I forgot to add Book of Tarts and The Village Baker to my list of books. (I love both of these too.)

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                noun 1. things considered to be worth collecting (not necessarily valuable or antique)

                adjective 1. capable of being collected.

                noun 2. an object suitable for a collection, originally a work of fine art or an antique, now including also any of a wide variety of items collected as a hobby, for display, or as an investment whose value may appreciate.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I'm sorry. And no, not really - not in the league of "The Last Course". The original cover price of the soft cover was $19.95. Copies are available on Amazon for $60-$69. I don't know what the hardcover price was - used copies are going from roughly $30 - $88. (Condition is important - the 2 copies going for $30 are in "acceptable" condition. A copy that is in "very good" condition is $60. Also, there are other sources for used books on the internet and when I'm on the hunt for a particular book I check them all before buying - but in my experience over the last few years, the prices of available used books on Amazon are usually pretty indicative of what's going on in the used book trade on the internet as a whole.)

        2. I find that "collectible" cookbook prices go up and down. For instance, there was a $29.95 Italian-American cookbook that a couple of years ago was going for more than $100. Now it has been reprinted and is availible at for less than the original price. Also, there were SO MANY copies of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art" printed that even autographed books are not that valuable -- as collectibles that is. As cookbooks, priceless!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Seattle Rose

            All very true. You never know when a book you may have paid a lot of money for because it was scarce might be reprinted, draining that used book of most of its monetary value. But I haven't yet seen one of the out of print cookbooks in my collection be reprinted. And I have to admit that it makes me very curious. Why wouldn't a publisher want to reprint a book that they are almost guaranteed will sell well???

            1. re: flourgirl

              Flourgirl, you're much more well-versed in this than I am. Why do you think The Last Course didn't sell enough in the first place? As it clearly didn't, otherwise it wouldn't be out of print. Low marketing budget? Not enough recognition of Fleming beyond restaurant afficionados and folks who regularly read the food magazines? It's just such a wonderful book...not just that the desserts are terrific, but it's well organized and thoughtfully written too. Kudos to Melissa Clark, the co-author, as well as to Fleming.

              1. re: Old Spice

                Actually my knowledge on this subject ends about here. I've never worked in the publishing industry so I don't really know the answer to this question.

                But, I think at least part of the answer might also be due to the fact that the baking/dessert cookbook segment of the publishing industry has seen an explosion in the last few years (I am absolutely in awe of some of the amazing books in this subject area that have been published recently) and there are only so many publishing houses and only so much money to go 'round. I think maybe what happens is that the publishers just sort of do a triage on the list of books they can/will print at any one time, dropping some older books off the list in favor of new ones. So even though, say, "The Last Course" maybe was selling pretty good, it just didn't make the cut in terms of available resources.

                If anybody out there could shed more light on this subject I would really appreciate it!

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yes, but "The Last Course" was a new book at one time too. And actually, Amazon promoted it quite heavily for a while. But it definitely did not get the promotion of say, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook or something like that. The MS Baking Book was everywhere for a while.

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      Right, my point is that publishers might rather put out a new book than reprint an old one because a new book will get reviewed, excerpted in magazines, etc. and that will boost sales.

          2. The Culinaria series published in Germany. I believe I have all of them (Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, America, Greece, Southeast Asia, Caribbean). Some are hard to find and are therefore quite expensive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: guttergourmet

              I see those in Half Price Books pretty often. They are pretty reasonable there

            2. I have about 100 cook books to research and find out if there worth anything. Do you know if there is one site that might help me with this or will I have to go to several. Books could be up to 60 years old. Never been to this site before or researched cookbooks. Any info would help.

              2 Replies
              1. re: greenrose66l

                I think the two best sites for this type of research are and