• Out of the Shadow of Aunt Jemima: The Real Black Chefs Who Taught Americans to Cook When you picture Aunt Jemima, what do you see? For a white person, it might be a soothing fantasy of a loving black servant putting warm, buttery pancakes on your plate. You might even feel a twinge of gratitude, as your harried mom might have skipped pancake making all together if it weren’t for Aunt Jemima’s magical mix. But to black people, the do-rag-wearing woman on the package says something…
  • Making, and Eating, the 1950s' Most Nauseating Jell-O Soaked Recipes Poring over vintage cookbooks and food advertisements is equal parts intriguing and repulsive: People willingly ate things like "Shrimp Aspic Mold" and "Chicken Mousse"? Unlike the menus on contemporary food blogs and in best-selling recipe books, mid-century cooking seems guaranteed to make you gag, thanks to its mismatched flavors, industrial ingredients, and gelatin overload. Often the…
  • Collecting Cookbooks, from Jell-O to Julia Child Special collections is where we keep non-circulating rare materials which have to be used in the reading room. Our holdings range from one of the world’s finest collections of comic art to a radicalism collection featuring material from points of view outside of the political mainstream. We also have important natural history and early agricultural texts, and a fine early veterinary medicine colle…
  • To Catch A Thief: A Rare Book Expert on His Literary Obsessions I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read books. In grade school, I devoured library books. I also loved comic books, and was wheeling and dealing them as a child—buying them for a nickel, sell them for dime. Bertrand Smith let me into the rare book room, and I bought a Maxwell Parrish "Arabian Nights." I bought an just for the illustrations. At the time I had no idea the artist was a Welsh wo…
  • The Colors of Fiesta I started as a collector and I’m a web designer, so I thought I would design a website from my passion. I threw it up there and people just found me and it started to take off. Fiesta is made in West Virginia, and I’m from West Virginia originally. I was a thrift store fanatic in college, and I would see this unmarked colored dishware that just really caught my eye. That was probably Riviera, beca…
  • The Last Word on First Editions Strictly speaking, a book’s edition refers to the setting of the text. So the first time you set the text and print a book with it, and then sell a bound book that you’ve just printed, that’s the first edition, first printing. If you use the same setup of text and print it again, that would be the second printing—a printing is therefore a subclass of an edition. The printing is also called the imp…