• Catalogue 12: Food & Drink, a miscellany for RBMS

    Catalogue of 63 mostly newly catalogued books, manuscripts, and ephemera on food, drink, and related fields. Some highlights include the 1530 Petit printing of Platina, John Murrell's Two Books of Cookerie in the 1659 printing (long known only by a title page at BL, the 1785 second issue of Samuel Pegge's Forme of Cury, a presentation copy from the dedicatee, Berchoux's Gastronomie, in an attractive pastepaper binding, a ‘spirits label’ album compiled for the reference of a London customs agent, an incomplete 19th century mycology manuscript from the Rhone Valley, the first American book devoted to seaweed, and a photograph of Fannie Farmer with a class of students, signed by all.

    There are cookbooks, but also books of agriculture; food as the cause of disease and food as the cure; on cooking for the disabled, and for cooking on trains; food and art; cooking in fishing camps, and the Iowa State Fair, and in royal circles in Paris in the 17th C. and Monaco. 

  • UNXLD: American Cookbooks of Community & Place

    THE FIRST volume in a long-term effort to examine American community cookbooks as well as other cookbooks outside the formal genre that express place and/or community. 

    FOR MORE than one hundred fifty years, groups of women (and, rarely, men) have gathered around kitchen tables, in church basements, and in meeting halls, to collect and organize recipes for a purpose more ambitious than their own use. They were doing the work of making cookbooks. To do this work, the women exercised all of the functions of commercial publishers: they solicited content; sought financial backing; edited, designed and illustrated; hired printers and binders; and finally marketed and distributed their product. They accomplished this on a shoestring budget, with little or no exposure to, or guidance from, the traditional centers of publishing, and without the motivation of personal gain. Such projects are the very embodiment of optimism – a posture, a worldview exhibited, if only occasionally, in the premise that what lies within is “unexcelled” (or “UNXLD”). The fruit of all this labor is a legacy of thousands of works, produced by amateurs (in the best sense of the word) in towns big and small across the United States, a distinctively American expression of fellowship, creativity, and purposefulness: the community cookbook.

    AS AN EXEMPLAR of the genre, the community cookbook is generally recognized to display three characteristics: much of the book's content was drawn from the membership of an organization; the recipes were understood to have been compiled from sources largely local; and the usual purpose of the enterprise was to generate revenue for some charitable purpose or for the organization’s general fund. Books fitting this definition have also variously been called charitable cookbooks, fundraising cookbooks, compiled cookbooks, local cookbooks, church cookbooks, and in the postwar era (a little ambiguously), “those spiral-bound books."

    WITHIN THE CATALOGUE, the items are arranged alphabetically by state, and chronologically within each state. This first offering (of what is expected to be six volumes in all) includes one hundred forty-four community books (and others which address issues of place and community) from Alabama through the District of Columbia, nearly one quarter of which are unrecorded.

    A PRINT VERSION of the catalogue is available for sale here on the website. Just search for UNXLD, or click here

  • 2019 California International Antiquarian Book Fair

    A list for the 2019 California International Antiquarian Book Fair

    February 8-10, Oakland Marriot City Center

    Seventy-five items for the annual ABAA California Fair, where you will find us in booth 505, alongside Gabe Boyers of Schubertiade Music & Arts Ltd. Seventy-four are printed or manuscript, food- or drink-related items, newly catalogued or – in a few cases – from inventory. The seventy-fifth item is an exceptional example of a type of book that I used to sell, and while I always bring a few items representing the arts and ideas, this one has earned a place at the head of the list.

  • 2019 Bibliography Week ABAA Showcase

    Attached please find a short catalogue of items we will be bringing to the 2019 Bibliography Week ABAA Showcase in New York City. The one-day showcase takes place Thursday, January 24th, from 10-4pm, and is located at the French Institute /Alliance Francaise, at 22 East 60th Street. As we will be at the Showcase, we ask that inquiries and orders be placed via email and not phone. The catalogue, offered here in no particular order, is mostly newly-catalogue printed and manuscript books and ephemera, all related to cookery.

  • 2018 Boston Book Fair Catalog

    Our list for the 2018 Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. Highlights include a very rare Dublin printing of the first edition of Susannah Carter's influential Frugal House-wife [circa 1765-68], a set of three photographs of 19th century street food vendors in Athens and Constantinople,  a  watercolor-illustrated Japanese Wagashi sweets manual, a presentation copy of the earliest known Iraqi cookbook to appear in English, an early and superb Julia Child letter, culinary manuscripts, gastronomic ephemera, and  spirited cocktail manuals. 

  • 2018 Bibliography Week Show List

    Here is a short catalogue of items we will be bringing to the 2018 Bibliography Week ABAA Showcase in New York City. The one-day showcase takes place Thursday, January 25th, from 10-4pm, and is located at the French Institute /Alliance Francaise, at 22 East 60th Street.  The catalogue, offered here in no particular order, is mostly newly-catalogued printed and manuscript books and ephemera, all related to cookery. 

  • Catalogue Eight: An Autumn Miscellany: Printed & Manuscript Cookery

    A short list of printed or manuscript cookery of importance or interest, either newly catalogued or – in just a few cases – from inventory. This list, in chronological order by publication date, is offered as illustration of the range of materials we work with and, we hope, the quality of attention given to cataloguing individual copies of antiquarian books and other historical food- and drink-related paper. 

  • Catalogue Seven: Rabelais' 10th Anniversary

    With this, our seventh full-length catalogue, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Rabelais. In November of 2006, Samantha and I passed a ‘For Rent’ sign in a Portland shop window, spent lunch sketching a business plan on a napkin and, just a few months later in the Spring of 2007 opened Rabelais. The shop has allowed us to spend our days surrounded by good customers and new friends, meet many of the greatest of chefs and cookbook authors, and engage with Maine’s incredible food community of farmers, fisherman, marketers, chefs, bartenders and others. Best of all, we get to spend our days in the company of cookbooks which have grabbed our attention, first to supply us with tasty meals, and then to make us think differently about the role of food and food writing in culture and history.  

    Over time, our attention has gravitated more and more toward the rare material. After all, most contemporary books can’t offer up chapters – at least not all at once – on: “Pickling, Collaring, Potting, Preparation of Hams, Bacon, &c., Elegant Ornaments for a Grand Entertainment, Made Wines, Cordial Waters, Malt Liquors, Culinary Poisons, and Necessary Articles for Sea Faring Persons.” (#22)

    And, while old cookbooks have long been loved and collected, the systematic collecting of cookbooks remains a young-ish field, somewhat overlooked by parts of the world of institutional special collections (with some notable and magnificent exceptions), and by antiquarian booksellers (again, with some notable and magnificent exceptions). This is good news, as it is still possible to find unrecognized and underexamined works out in the wild, at book fairs, in used and antiquarian bookshops, and on the shelves of kitchen libraries. This catalogue offers seven items not found in the collections of research libraries around the world, and thus this provides a debut of sorts for these books, humble though some of them may be.

    Another reason cookbooks continue to hold our attention is the range of purposes for which they are made. Almost every conceivable corner of society seems to produce a cookbook and for every possible reason: a confectioner claims preeminence in his field (#38); an inventor provides a technological innovation hoping to feed the poor (#24 & 25); a group of women from Missouri try to create of bit of American culinary normalcy while acting as missionaries in New Guinea (#72); or a businessman looks to take advantage of trade with China by introducing American customers to Chop Suey and Chow Mein (#54).

    To list the rest of many reasons we continue to love finding, researching and selling rare cookbooks would take a book, but the real work is done one book, manuscript, or piece of ephemera at a time, which is exactly what we’ll continue to do.

  • RBMS 2018 Showcase Catalogue

    Here is a link to our catalogue of  materials to be displayed at the ABAA Showcase at RBMS 2018 this week in New Orleans. As I write this, my belly is full of grilled oysters, champagne and, well, some fried oysters too. WWOZ, one of the world's greatest radio stations is on the hotel room radio, and an entire city of food and music beckons. So I'll be short. 
    The ABAA is an opportunity for us to strike up new conversations with the widest variety of special collections librarians. We've chosen material including an 1859 menu from a New Orleans steamboat, an Elizabethan culinary work in poetry and prose, an unrecorded Louisiana rice cookbook, an early recipe collection from the Congo, the first two American distilling books, a British naturalist's unpublished volume of drawings of molluscs, a German mycologist's massive folder of field notes and drawings, and a salesman's sample book from the Sunshine Biscuit Company.The catalogue is arranged roughly in chronological order by publication date, the items "bookended" by Henry Buttes' Dyets Dry Dinner (1599), and Anthony Bourdain's Bone in the Throat (1995), books with seemingly little commonality. But both use language freely and sometimes viscerally to approach the corporality of human nutrition.

  • NEArtBookFair : short title list

    What are the cookbook folks doing at the art book fair? Well, before we did cookbooks, and before we carried the name Rabelais, our specialty was historical the avant-gardes, artists’ books and modern “isms”. So when we heard there was going to be a New England Art Book Fair we reached deep into our inventory to unearth examples of unusual and rare art books, artists’ books, fine printing, photo books, ‘zines, art ephemera, and works from the mimeo revolution. Movements represented include Dada, Surrealism, Bauhaus, Pataphysics, New York School, Fluxus, and Conceptual Art. We will also bring some more traditional works of the fine press, livres d’artistes, and a unique vernacular collage book. You’ll notice that some of the books we bring are both art/artists’ books and food-related. We look forward to exhibiting these items alongside the contemporary materials of the other exhibitors. 

  • 2016 RBMS Showcase List

    Thirty seven notable items to be offered at the 2016 RBMS Conference Showcase in Coral Gables Florida. 

  • 2016 California Book Fair List

    Here's a short list of some of the items we will be bringing to Pasadena for the fair. Many are newly catalogued. For more information on the fair, please visit You can find us in booth 505, and we hope to see you there. 

  • The 2015 Ephemera Society of America Conference Short List

    We head to Greenwich, CT for the 35th Ephemera Society of American Annual Conference and Fair. We will be exhibiting Saturday and Sunday at th e fair and hope to see some of you. It is the premier event in the US for collectors of rare paper. Click through for a pdf of the short list of some of the items that will be on offer. 

  • Catalogue Five: American, Continental, & English Cookery

    An illustrated catalogue of books, manuscript and ephemera from North America, the Continent and England. 

    Price: $9.00 Add to Cart
  • Between Farm & Table: The Production & Marketing of Food

    How and when did food production move from the kitchen to the factory? The items in this catalogue seek to illustrate this transformation. Included are printed and manuscript materials produced by and for the food industry: handbooks, trade catalogues, advertising art, labels, photographs, and ephemera. We've divided the catalogue into the primary activities that occur 'between farm and table', stopping just short of the home or restaurant kitchen. 

    Price: $10.00 Add to Cart
  • Rabelais Catalogue 2

    You hold in your hands (well, virtually) Rabelais Catalogue 2. It’s been a long time coming, almost three years now since its predecessor. We’ve tried to fill the time in between with short lists, some printed special items, like our cocktail brochure for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, and more than a few appearances at book fairs. But there’s nothing like a real catalogue to force a bookseller to get down to work, to take stock of what he or she has purchased that might be worthy of a print, and to get around to doing the research, writing and photography that are the building blocks of this ephemeral, and admittedly commercial, endeavor.

  • Catalogue I

    Our first catalogue of antiquarian titles contains books from the 18th through the 20th centuries, and includes cookbooks, artist's books, farm and garden books, cocktail manuals and more.

  • Tales of the Cocktail Short List 2011

    This July, we head to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, the annual international conference for drink history and craft cocktail creation. We'll be displaying hundreds of rare books on cocktails, drink history, distilling, wine, soda fountains and more. As a little tease, we've created this short catalogue with just a few of our offerings. See you in the Big Easy!