Vintage cookbooks may be worth thousands of dollars: Here's 6 reasons why (2024)

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Old cookbooks could be worth a small fortune.

Listings on eBay — a popular multinational auction website — show that some vintage cookbooks have been priced at hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The cookbook that’s currently commanding the highest price on eBay is a 142-page spiral cookbook that’s entitled, "Arizona Cook Book: Indian, Mexican, Western, Arizona Products, Backpacking-Camping, Patio Barbecue," which has been listed for sale at $6,850.20 (original listing price: $9,786).

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The book was written by Al Fischer and was published in 1983 by Golden West Publishers.

Other sellers on eBay and similar e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and Etsy, have listed the book for under $20.

The seller who’s hoping to sell the 40-year-old cookbook on southwestern cuisine has noted that the book is in "very good" condition and doesn’t have any "known wear or writing."

Vintage cookbooks may be worth thousands of dollars: Here's 6 reasons why (2)

As of March 1, 2023, the three highest priced "vintage cookbooks" on eBay ranged between $1,000 and $6,850.20. (eBay / Fox News)

Three other cookbooks that have a four-figure price tag on eBay at the time of publication include "The Australian Women’s Weekly: Great Ways with Steaks & Chops" from 1974 ($1,010.85), "Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book" from 1950 ($1,000) and a first-edition "La Methode Jacques Pepin: An Illustrated Guide to The Fundamental Techniques of Cooking" from 1976 ($1,000).

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Is cookbook collecting a real hobby?

Nicole Sawyer, the co-founder of Chattic.com, an online community and marketplace for collectibles, told FOX Business that "cookbooks are an enormous collectible category with immense value potential."

"Cookbooks can have auction potential, especially if they are rare, valuable, or have historical significance," said Sawyer, who’s based in New York City. "Some vintage cookbooks can fetch high prices at auction, particularly those that are in excellent condition and have a strong provenance."

Vintage cookbooks may be worth thousands of dollars: Here's 6 reasons why (3)

Old and rare cookbooks could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. (iStock / iStock)

Sawyer said there are six reasons why cookbooks have become a collectible category among food lovers.

1. Historical value: Old cookbooks provide insight into the cooking and eating habits from the times they were written and published. These books give readers "a glimpse into the past" and help people "understand how food and cooking practices have changed over time," according to Sawyer.

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2. Nostalgia: Old cookbooks can revive memories of one’s childhood, a family gathering or a holiday celebration. Sawyer noted that some cookbook collectors save cookbooks that were used by their parents or grandparents while others make it a point to get popular cookbooks from a particular era.

3. Unique recipes: Old cookbooks can contain recipes that aren’t common by modern standards. Sawyer said some foodies may build up a cookbook collection because they’re interested in trying unique recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques of yesteryear.

4. Artistic value: Old cookbooks typically have an "aesthetic value" that can attract a collector, according to Sawyer. In her own words, "Vintage cookbooks often feature beautiful illustrations, typography and design elements that are no longer used in modern cookbooks."

5. Investment value:Old cookbooks are sometimes collected as a "financial investment," Sawyer said. The value of a cookbook can go up over time, especially if it’s considered rare, has historical significance and is in good condition.

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6. Celebrity status: Old cookbooks that are connected to celebrity chefs or have a "cultural significance" can fetch higher prices, according to Sawyer. "For example, a first-edition of Julia Child's ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ sold for $7,500 at auction in 2019, and a first edition of ‘The Joy of Cooking’ from 1931 sold for over $46,000 in 2017," she said.

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Fans of homemade recipes collect cookbook for a variety of reasons, including nostalgia, admiration for art and investing. (iStock / iStock)

Collectible cookbook facts: Notable auctions and world record collection

The world’s most expensive cookbook is currently unknown, but auctioneers have sold quite a few for large sums.

Bonhams, an international auction house with headquarters in the U.K., sold eight titles on cooking and food from The Library of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for $15,300 in January 2022.

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British auction house Christie’s sold "Cookbook of the Pope’s Secret Chef" (circa 1570), a cookbook written by Italian Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi, for $18,750 in October 2019, according to auction records.

Sotheby’s, a British-found multinational fine art auction house sold a collection of about 200 books on cooking and entertaining for $17,500 in November 2014.

The current world record for the largest collection of cookbooks belongs to Lisa Ekus of Hatfield, Massachusetts, according to Guinness World Records.

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She was recognized by Guinness on July 25, 2019, for her collection of 4,239 cookbooks, which she collected for over 40 years.

Vintage cookbooks may be worth thousands of dollars: Here's 6 reasons why (2024)

FAQs

Is there any value in vintage cookbooks? ›

For many rare and collectible cookbooks, a first edition, first printing makes the difference. Betty Crocker vintage cookbooks are a good example of this. Early printings are far more valuable than later printings of the same edition.

Why are cookbooks so expensive? ›

Cookbooks, with all of the ingredients to buy, recipes to test, and photographs to shoot, are expensive to produce, and very often, those expenses come out of the author's pocket.

How to price old cookbooks? ›

Determine The Value of Your Cookbooks
  1. Cookbook booklets or pamphlets generally sell for on average for $2/piece. ...
  2. Booklets after 1920 will generally sell under $10, wartime booklets may be more easily sold than their 20s and 30s counterparts.
  3. Vintage and signed cookbooks have a broad pricing range.

What is the average price of a cookbook? ›

The list price for print cookbooks typically runs anywhere from $15 to $30 for popular cookbooks and $25 to $50 for gourmet or restaurant cookbooks. Amazon usually discounts these by 30% to 50%. It is usually ideal for most Monetizing or Marketing books to fall somewhere in this range.

Where is the best place to sell old cookbooks? ›

The Best Way to Sell Cookbooks Online

Run an Ecwid store on your own website, on popular social media platforms, or through marketplaces like Amazon or eBay.

How do I know if my vintage book is worth money? ›

To determine the true market value of a book, or any other collectible item, an appraisal may be necessary.
  1. What is the condition of the book?
  2. Is it a first edition? ...
  3. Who is the author of the book?
  4. What is the full title?
  5. When was it published? ...
  6. Who is the publisher?

Who is buying cookbooks? ›

Most people buy two or three cookbooks each year, and 12% of buyers buy four or more. 70% of cookbook buyers buy for themselves, and the remaining 30% buy cookbooks as gifts. Half of all cookbook buyers say they cook at home at least once a week.

Should I get rid of old cookbooks? ›

As much as we all love cookbooks, sometimes you hit a point where you just have to let a few go. But unless a cookbook is totally trashed or something flimsy you put together in grade school, you don't really want to just throw them in the garbage. Someone else could get use out of them!

Is there still a market for cookbooks? ›

Sales fluctuate a little year to year, but they're generally stable — around 20 million or so. In the first year of the pandemic, cookbook sales spiked about 16%. Though they have dropped off a bit since then, sales remain strong.

Who buys old cookery books? ›

Exchange your unwanted cookery books for cash

At WeBuyBooks, we provide you with a simple and quick way to earn cash in exchange for your unwanted books, so that you can make room on your shelves for books on the next big thing.

Are old novels worth anything? ›

A beaten-up old book that is falling apart will have little value. First editions are sought-after by book collectors and a first edition is usually more valuable than a later printing. A first edition signed by the author will have even greater value. Scarcity influences value.

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