This is one of the really scarce bridal books, published shortly before the First World War by the Los Angeles Examiner as a giveaway. In a foreword, the Examiner stresses that the paper makes a special effort to appeal to women and names some of its “selected corps of women writers and artists.” Grandma Keeler who, it is asserted, wrote the book and whose photograph appears as a frontispiece, is unfortunately not further identified.
The collection of recipes is wide ranging, and while certainly including all the expected standards, from macaroni and cheese to cherry pie, it also puts forward more than a few surprises. Lamb’s tongue on toast; green chile omelet; fricasseed veal with caraway seed; Indian burdwan; and an entire section of about sixty-five recipes entitled Spanish Dishes. These last, of course, are very much part of the Los Angeles kitchen of a hundred years ago, combining Mexican cooking and California’s own “rancho” cuisine.
Through this book we are given an intriguing view of a Los Angeles that had a population of a mere three-hundred thousand (it has grown by thirteen times since then). This smaller world is reflected in many of the advertisements. “The Course of True Love Always Runs Smooth…when there are no money troubles in the family,” says an ad for Eastern Outfitting Co., a furniture store at 620 South Main St., trumpeting its “Liberal Terms.” The New Method Laundry Co. at 401 E. 6th Street, assures you that it is “The only absolutely fire-proof Laundry in Southern California.” And Aggeler & Musser Seed Co., 113 North Main, proposes “a Profitable Garden,” noting that “The most profitable part of the household garden is the small space occupied by a dozen hens.”
This trim volume—more than 238 pages—is nicely made. The white cover, stamped in gold on the front is lightly soiled but not stained and is over-all quite good looking. The interior is clean and unmarked, other than a light child’s scribble on one page. A Very Good copy. Published without dust jacket.
Although there may have been such books done elsewhere, there is something particularly American about the bridal book. Popular from the turn of the twentieth century until just before World War II, these were slender volumes distributed free of charge to newlyweds, primarily as vehicles for advertising goods and services relevant to their interests.
Frequently published with white bindings and coy titles, they contained ads for a mix of national products (Clorox, Pepsi Cola) and local businesses ranging from wedding photographers to furniture stores, banks and life insurance agencies. The editorial content was generally built around domestic life. Recipes were nearly always the core–many are identified specifically as cookbooks–but they also might contain household advice, ranging from stain removal or treating a cough to tips on how to keep “him” happy.
Although some of these books were produced in the communities where they were distributed, many others were developed by printers and other book packagers in a stock format and placed–often with title changes–in a number of cities and towns around the country. Local advertisers would then buy space to reach the large audience of young people ready to start a new home.
We are pleased to be able to offer a selection of half a dozen such books. Although they may be of interest to any collector, they might have particular appeal to those who have lived or have friends in the localities they address.