I must start with a confession!
My Name is Robert Hendry and I’m an enthusiastic collector of cookery books. I have decided to sell some as well.
So what! - you may ask.
Well in all the years I have been collecting cookery books, the one group I always avoided were collectors who were also dealers.
The reason is always the same. The collector knows the effort every one of his books took to end up on his shelf. If they have to sell, he or she usually prices them way above current market prices.
The dealer always prices them at the current rate they will sell for – ‘Not too cheap, not too expensive, just right’.
Quite often in the auction, at a book-fair, in an antiquarian bookshop or just talking to a dealer, the collector drives up the prices by his or her desire. The dealer always has to gauge just how much cash the collector will part with.
Ann Morgan-Hughes owner of ‘Black Cat Books’ once told me while we were waiting for an auction to start, that she is always amazed at how much collectors are willing to pay.
This is the crux of my confession. I have become a collector/dealer.
I am trying to sell some of my books, not as a business but to improve my collection. If I sell a second edition it is primarily to enable me to buy a first. That is why some of my prices are relatively high.
I am also not in a hurry to sell, especially the best items.
One of the reasons I find myself in this position is that my son asked me to make an inventory of my collection, recording what I paid for each book, when I bought it, and crucially what they are worth now.
So When I started, I realised that if my son was ever to sell the collection, due to his ignorance in this field, dealers could basically name their own price and my son would be none the wiser.
As both he and I have bought many of the books (as an investment) together, I decided to do the inventory as professionally as I could.
Along the way, I also realised that with a website inventory I could utilise it to improve the collection.
Let me say a little bit about the collection. I have collected books from all ages, predominately written in English.
Where I have bought in another language it is usually because of engravings. Examples of these are the books in French by Antonin Careme, and in Austrian by Georg Christof Kriegl with their amazing plates.
I am also a seeker of pertinent Ephemera that may enhance an existing book in the collection. A good example of this is the Prunier book ‘La Maison’ and its letter of reference for a former employer. I found the letter after buying the book and had to put them together. It then became altogether a much more interesting item.
I also like interesting Ephemera for its own sake, hence the signed letters from Escoffier and Soyer amongst many other scarce items.
Where possible I have always tried to find and buy signed copies, especially modern authors.
The book descriptions have been prepared very carefully as I am not an experienced dealer, therefore have taken extra care. When I started this whole exercise it was with little enthusiasm but as the book-site has taken shape and slowly but surely the database has filled, it has become a surprisingly enjoyable experience, especially hunting down the historical and bibliographical details of each book.
I have many more books to add and will do so in time.
I have a very demanding job and can only attend to the site spasmodically at best. If you do have a ‘book want’ do not hesitate to contact me.
Finally, I have classified books and ephemera etc, dated before 1900 as 'antiquarian' and those dated after 1900 as 'modern'.