Archive for October, 2017

A vernacular binding (with skull and Band-aid!) just for Halloween

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

‘Tis the season for Frankenbooks, books that, usually at the hands of a loving owner, have been stitched back together from whatever pieces may be at hand. TOTH to friend and colleague Garrett Scott for the term “Frankenbook”. Garrett and I share an interest in “evidence of use”, a term for the accretion of changes to a book that occur over its lifetime, post-publication. These

changes may include protective or preservative bindings (the present book is an example of the later), as well as marks of ownership and succession (ever write your name in a book?), revision and criticism including marginalia, navigation (dog-eared pages & Post-its are still in use), and additions, as well as the physical record of natural hazards such as stains (for cookbooks we call these “Splatternalia“), predation, smoke, and water damage. Garrett has gone so far as to begin to propose a formalized language of Vernaculopegy, a field which includes evidence of use, but also all other interventions of non-professionals with book production (a child’s handmade bookbinding may serve as an example). I full support and encourage this effort!

And so as we approach of All Hallows Eve, I offer this church cookbook in a vernacular binding as a somewhat scary example of a Frankenbook, but also as witness to the unskilled care that owners have put into certain books, and of the ingenuity employed to use the materials at hand in the domestic landscape.

The Cook’s Friend and Home Guide (1906), exists in no known complete copy. Institutional holdings consist of one copy of the incomplete 2011 reprint. Thankfully this copy, also incomplete, was saved from oblivion by its owner, who apparently also had a hand in creation of that reprint.

This book is not presently available for sale. It will be included in our forthcoming multi-volume catalogue, Local America: Cookbooks of Place & Cookbooks of Community. This six volume project will survey approximately one thousand community, church, and fundraising cookbooks, as well as other books that somehow illustrate the concept of place in American cooking. The survey stretches from the first decade of the 19th century to the early 2000s, and is organized chronologically within each state. We hope to issue volume one (Alabama through District of Columbia) in January 2018.


[Full description].

The Cook’s Friend and Home Guide. Compiled and published by the Ladies Aid Society of the M.E. Church Jollytown, PA 1906. [Jollytown, Penn.]: Ladies Aid Society, [1906]. Octavo (23 x 15.5 cm.), 144 pages (this copy incomplete, present are pages 7-144 inclusive; lacking all text prior to page 7).

Evident FIRST & ONLY EDITION. A Pennsylvania church cookbook from the unincorporated township of Jollytown in the far southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, nestled against the West Virginia border. The attributed recipes are of moderate length and in narrative form, and most appear provided by local women, although a few hail from Wheeling, West Virginia, South Bend, Indiana and elsewhere. The first 96 pages cover a fairly standard array of culinary recipes, and then the book

turns to keeping the pantry, the basics of gardening, operation of the household and related recipes, invalid cooking, etc. A final section on Temperance contains a general outline supplied by a Jennie Pollock and “How to Organize a W.C.T.U.” which includes a list of suggested topics to discuss at meetings.

The book itself is, as indicated above, a fragment, lacking the front matter, including title page, through page 6. Some of the remaining leaves are detached from the staples, and many are significantly worn at the edges. However the odd nature of the marvelous vernacular binding is of real interest. A later pencil signature to the front panel of the cardboard binding indicates a Daniel Isaac Morris of Jollytown, was at least owner and also likely the progenitor of this later binding created with the intention of protecting the book from further degradation. Two corrugated cardboard panels form the front and rear panels of the covers. There is no spine, but rather numerous tapes connect the “sandwich” of the front and rear boards. The printed title from the front board of the original volume has been cut out and affixed to the new cardboard. Materials used include: cardboard, cellophane tape, electrical tape, manila-colored masking tape, what appears to be a patterned wallpaper, duct-tape printed with a camouflage pattern of skulls, and a Band-Aid (!). If the binder lacked formal education in bookbinding and preservation, at least they had a sense that the information was important to save: taped to the verso of the front cardboard panel is a printed slip of paper, listing the members of the committee, as well as other members of the society from which the book could be purchased. Daniel Isaac Morris is also listed as supplying the cover illustration of a reprinting of this book issued in 2011 by the Cornerstone Geneological Society of Waynesburg, Penn. It may be assumed that Mr. Morris rebound this book sometime in the vicinity of the reprint edition (the skull-patterned tape also supports this late interpretation. Like this copy, the copy used for the reprint was incomplete, containing only 126 pages of 144 pages (numerous outlets are now offering this reprint as Print on Demand). Scarce, and undoubtedly an engaging object.

[OCLC locates no copies of this original publication, and one copy only of the 2011 reprint; not in Brown or Cook].

Not for Sale.