What are your cookbooks worth?

Cookbook collection

I don’t know about you, but I recently realized that I have quite the cookbook collection going on here. Unlike stamps or trading cards, people rarely start out to build a cookbook collection. Instead, they grow over time as you add a book here and there, take up a new type of cooking or baking, or browse through used bookstores until you find an old, forgotten gem. Like stamps and trading cards, however, everything that you can collect has some value attached to it. I flipped through a copy of the Antique Trader Collectible Cookbooks Price Guide to see if my out of control collection of cookbooks had any value besides their wealth of recipes.

It turns out that some of my oldest cookbooks, while they’ve risen from their sticker price or $2 of $4, aren’t worth all that much. Many of my newest cookbooks have sticker prices (and current values) much higher! My theory is that cookbooks are things that are kept for years, and passed along to friends and relatives. They’re not often sold, lost or destroyed (although spills in the kitchen will damage more than a few). So while my 1960 copy of Peg Bracken’s The I Hate To Cook Book is worth a lot to me, it’s not worth a whole lot on the market because there are plenty of other copies out there.

Most of the cookbooks listed in the Price Guide topped out at $20-$40, even for the very old cookbooks or small-run promotional books. Needless to say, I’m keeping my books for their content and for inspiration even when I don’t use their recipes. Does anyone else have older cookbooks that might be worth more than their recipes? Anyone else have older cookbooks, like me, that you couldn’t put a price tag on easily because the recipes are worth even more?

24 comments

  1. The old cookbooks that I have probably aren’t worth anything to anyone other than mean as they are old with dog-earred and some stained favorites, but to me they are priceless. Many are “fundraiser” books where the ladies (an sometimes a gent or two) would donate their favorite old family recipes to try to raise money to raise money to cover the cost of small town festival, send a kid to camp or pay the hospital bills of a sick child.

  2. I have a few older cookbooks and I have no idea what they might be worth. Two have more meaning for me than money: one was used by my grandmother and her two sisters for home ec classes in the twenties and the other is just funny to read sometimes because of some of the household tips. It also has recipes for offal and such.

  3. My cookbooks have so much value to me, cherished. thanks for the interesting link.

  4. My wife has quite a collection of cookbooks. I can’t see her ever selling any of them; even the ones that only get used a few times a year. Some of them are her ‘best friends’.

    Nice article.

    -Ray

  5. Very cool article, and thanks for the link. I love my hundreds of cookbooks, and while some are of value to antiquers, they are of more value to me. :) I cannot imagine getting rid of any cookbook and think I might border on “hoarder” when it comes to them!

  6. The oldest cookbook I have is the Betty Crocker cookbook for girls and boys (not sure of the exact title). It’s not worth anything because it no longer has a cover and is so beat-up I keep it in a plastic bag, but I like it because my mother kept if for me. The cookbook I wish I had is the cookbook from the fifties that most of her pie recipes came from.

  7. I have my mom’s cookbook from the 1970s. It’s missing its cover, the binding’s coming apart, but I love that book because it has graphical comparison of all the funky Asian spices. It’s easier for me to flip that book than search wikipedia.

  8. Most of the cookbooks I have are newer, but I do have one, a Metropolitan Insurance cookbook from the 1930s or 40s (I don’t remember) that’s exactly like the one my great-grandma had when my grandma and her siblings were little. I snagged it at a yard sale for a dime, because I remembered my grandma talking about it.

  9. I had a huge collection in a period of over 40 years. I couldn’t count them so I measured the length of each shelf and found I had a total of 65 feet of shelving! I remembered each book and the comments I made in each recipe I had tried. I used to read them like magazines. (I did not count them in the shelved books.) Most of the magazines I had given away. When the sad day came to depart from those books I wound up giving them to my local library. I was moving to another state and there was just too much to do with the logistics of moving, let alone sell books. So, I gave 90 percent of them away and happy to do so as I figured a lot of people would get use of these great books I loved so much. I still have PLENTY to do at my age (73) and cooking is not a priority anymore. So if your books are in good shape donate them to the public (or even a private) library. Share them! Others will thank you!

  10. oh. i can’t count all the worth. But my fav cookbook is a book from my mother of 1973!!! by dr oetker. :-)

  11. We have a cookbook collection from home. These were compiled collections from my sisters and me, dad, and mom. Each of us has its own favorite cookbook. It’s worth having a collection like this. We used it every time there’s an occasion and when we are bored of our casual foods.

  12. I have a ton of cookbooks. I have most likely over 300 or more. I had moved last year, and wantedto get rid of some of them before the move. I put about 15 of them for sale on amazon, and I made over 250 dollars. A couple of the books went for over 50 dollars each. I would pay that much if I really wanted something, and apparently folks really wanted a few of my old books.

  13. I have so many cookbooks it isn’t even funny. The funny part is, I probably haven’t made more than one or two out of most of them. I just have them to have them. They are my happiness. I am glad to know I am not alone!

  14. Most of my old cookbooks have only sentimental value…My mom is gone, so seeing recipes with her notes scribbled next to them is a treasure to me.

  15. Funny you have a cookbook post… I just received your Baking Bites Cookbook today! I love it! The pictures are awesome and there are some amazing recipes in there I can’t wait to try! I too have a huge cookbook collection, some old, some new and I will always add to it. I can’t wait to try a recipe from your book!

  16. I just inherited some of my great-grandmother’s cookbooks – I’ve loved going through them and seeing her notes on how to change recipes or notes about my great-grandpa’s favorites. Then I found a first-edition “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child – not sure if it is worth anything “on the market”, but it is worth a lot to me! :)

  17. I never even stopped to think of this. I don’t have a lot of cookbooks since most of my learned recipes are in my head (it’s just how our family cooks), but I believe I have a few that might actually be worth something. A Better Homes & Gardens book that was passed down to me from my grandma in decent condition might be worth something.

    Awesome post!

  18. My brother has a ton of antique cookbooks. Most are worth a lot of laughs and not much money but they are so much fun!

  19. Hey there…let’s interlink our sites…
    Here’s my page : 1to3cuisines.blogspot.com
    it’s a new page and i need backlinks for it.

  20. I LOVE my cookbooks and have over 3000. I enjoy reading them like you would read a novel. Many have alot of history conected with them. The ads are especially interesting. I’ve just had shelves made so they can be diplayed.

  21. My sister just brought me 3 big boxes full of all kinds of old cookbooks some dated back to 1951. I need to know how to find out if any of these books are worth anything to anyone that may find value in them. Kind of confused since I don’t use recipe books. I just play in the kitchen and are set in my ways of cooking. Will someone please let me know what to do with them?

  22. I have my mothers old cookbook. The title is The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook. It’s dated 1958. It’s a beautiful hardcover book with 974 pages and lots of pictures (plus index). First published in 1940.

    Hate to see it just sitting in the back of my closet but don’t know anyone that would appreciate it.

    Aleksa

  23. I have a huge [8 ton] collection of cookbooks. I really need to downsize. Any suggestions

  24. Dina – If you have any that you think might be collectible for some reason, you can always list them on amazon or ebay. If you just want to get them out of the house, consider donating them to the library or Goodwill (or another charitable group) for a tax writeoff!

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