Culinary advice for 'virgins, wives, or widows' on offer at Bloomsbury Auctions

Cooking enthusiasts and investors in rare books will be keen to take a look at Bloomsbury Auctions' sale on March 24.

The Food & Drink and Allied Subjects sale in London features a tasty looking array of rare cookery books, most at extremely tempting prices.

One of the leading items is a first edition of Whole Duty of a Woman: or, an Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex. Produced in England in 1737, this useful tome provides "rules, directions, and observations" for women's "conduct and behaviour through all ages and circumstances of life, as virgins, wives, or widows".

A woman's lot is not a happy one

The book provides an exhaustive guide to all manner of culinary particulars that would be of use for the 18th century woman, including recipes for 40 different sorts of pudding and advice on pickling.

The book is in surprisingly good condition and includes many full-page engraved illustrations. It has a high end estimate of £700.

Cookery books are a niche market for investors and can change hands for considerable sums. One of the most sought after books is La Pastissier François, purportedly written by pioneering French chef François Pierre de la Varenne in 1655. Valued conservatively last year at £25,000, it always causes a stir when it appears at auction.


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