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OP: The Modern Baker, Confectioner & Caterer (6 vols)

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by John Kirkland

The Gersham Publishing Company, London, 1912. Hardcover. Very Good Minus. Six volumes.

Former head teacher of the London National Bakery School—the oldest known bakery school still in operation—John Kirkland assembled an exhaustive text on the science, history, technique, and business of baking and catering. We have never before seen such a comprehensive text with a particular focus on the baking side of the food industry. 

Originally published between 1907 and 1909 in six volumes, The Modern Baker, Confectioner & Caterer covers the history and properties of flour and bread, bread types in England and around the world, piping, sugar work, entremets, ices, ornamental pieces, savory dishes—sauces, fruits and vegetable, entrées—bakery equipment and management, distribution, and bookkeeping. 

These volumes are stunning and meant to last, supplemented with the most advanced photography of the day—including photos taken through a microscope and some color photography—illustrations, maps, tables and charts, all printed on high quality paper stock. Recipes are contained within the academic text as prose, and measurements are by weight in the imperial system. No doubt indispensable to a budding entrepreneur of the early 20th century.

Each volume is handsomely bound in olive green cloth with a three tone art nouveau design and in Very Good Minus condition. The interiors are largely clean with occasional stains and smudges throughout all volumes. The sewn bindings remain tight, though we spot many instances where a photo or illustration insert and/or their protective tissues have come loose. The cases are lightly bumped, scuffed, tilted, or frayed from their century-plus shelf life. 

Our Volume I is dated 1912, and Volume VI 1909. No other carries a date. After each volume’s table of contents, the pagination is continuous from Volume I–III and from Volume IV–VI. Volume VI includes the index for the complete work. Engrossing. 

Our set comes from the Sontheimer Foundation Library. Carl Sontheimer (1914–1998) invented the original Cuisinart food processor. Each volume bears a bookplate on the front paste down, stating “This book is a gift from The Sontheimer Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut.”

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