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Sep 11, 2008 01:53 PM

Thoughts on Laminating an Old Cookbook

I have an old 1950s Penguin edition of Marion Brown's Southern Cook Book. I love this thing. The newer editions have been rewritten and are missing several recipes. I have been looking on eBay for a replacement and it seems hard to find. My old Penguin edition is past yellowed--it's caramel-colored. It is coming out of the binding. Is it too far gone to laminate? Will it continue to decay inside the lamination? Does anyone know about this? Am I nuts to even contemplate it?

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  1. Do you know at what year the revisions took place? There are quite a few 1968's at -

    1. The guts of the book are printed on pulp stock and bound with a glue that probably gave up the ghost about ten years after publication. If you've used the book regularly since the 50's, then I'm surprised the pages have lasted this long as pulp stock is loaded with sulphides which reacts with air and light to render pages brown and brittle. Rebinding paper backs is not a long term solution. My sense is that lamination won't stop the rot but might delay it for a few years.

      How fragile are the pages? Can you safely put them into a scanner? If so, scan them as black and white bit maps at 1250 or 2500 dpi. Save the files and reprint at will preserving the typographic integrity of Penguin circa 1950.

      If the pages must be protected by lamination before scanning, the preservation of your recipes will cost more,

      3 Replies
      1. re: DockPotato

        I agree with both DockPotato and Big Bunny. If you can't scan the recipes, you'll have to copy the missing recipes by hand either into a recipe software program or word processing program.

        The old edition will continue to deteriorate despite all good intentions. It is not your fault and you did nothing wrong.

        Have you tried contacting the publisher to see if they have any copies laying around? It's a slim chance but the worst answer you can get is no.

        1. re: DockPotato

          I hadn't even thought of scanning it. Same effort, permanent result. Good idea!

          1. re: Sallie

            Flattening them on the platten will be a problem unless the pages are already separated. Care and good luck.

        2. I would buy the new edition, methodically photocopy those recipes missing from the old edition, and put the old edition in a safe place - as-is.


            1. re: buttertart

              Ha! Good find. Thank you! I didn't know about this web site. I should buy 3 or 4 and have them cryogenically frozen.

              1. re: Sallie

                It's a gem. Found out about it from antiquarian book seller pal. Good for all manner of books.

            2. Sounds like you've found a good solution with scanning. As far as preserving cookbooks go the fact that the paper, glue and just about everything used to make is is acidic it means it won't last and all that handling that a well loved recipe book recieves doesn't help either. Light, air, touch with further disintegrate anything paper based. I'd go with the scanning and when it comes to storage if you want it to last go acid and lignin free where possible.