English manuscript recipe book

Biographical and Historical Notes

The owner and possible creator of this manuscript recipe book, Mary Baker, lived in England in the 1730s.


Biographical information derived from dealer description.

Scope and Content Note

This circa 1730 English manuscript recipe book includes approximately 300 cooking, medicinal, and domestic recipes or receipts. The volume features colorful watercolor illustrations and a vellum binding. The entries, in various hands, are written in a calligraphic style. The volume appears to have been produced as a copy and may have been a gift to Mary Baker as opposed to having been created by her.

Receipts include cookery recipes for meat, fowl, vegetables, desserts, and beverages including "plumb" cake, rice pudding, pickle cucumbers, and currant wine. Medicinal entries concern such ailments as the sting of an adder, small pox, and salves for various conditions. Additional household recipes include two for ink and a leaden "plaister."

This volume is housed in a custom case with spine title "Cookery Manuscript Ca. 1730" and includes approximately 176 used pages and a number of blank sheets. The first two pages depict three peacocks, another bird, possibly a peahen, and four trees with small red fruit, possibly cherries. These illustrations are drawn in ink and decorated with watercolor. An incomplete table of contents and an index are included in the volume: although there are 124 pages of carefully written receipts containing about 300 different receipts, the table of contents lists no receipts after Item 240; similarly, the index at the end lists receipts up to Item 271. Following the index is a five page prayer or religious poem.