Kids tale has broader appeal than cookbook

By Terry Maurer, What's It Worth?October 6, 2013 

In today's What's It Worth? we answer questions from readers about books. One is a child's volume about the three bears. The other is a cookbook that might have a hard time finding a publisher today.

Q. We found this cookbook in my grandmother's hope chest after she passed away. In this day and age, this would be a very politacally incorrect book. However, the recipes are very good. Throughout the book, there are drawings of black slaves going about their work, plus poems and spirituals written in what someone thought was the black, southern regional language of the day. Can you tell us what it is worth, if anything, other than as interesting memorabilia? Thank you for your help. -- Sandra in Pasco

A. Some people would probably be offended by the very concept of this little book, while others would classify it as a desirable African-American collectible item.

First published in 1935, Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes came out under the imprint of the Culinary Arts Press of Reading, Pa. The "Press" was the domain of a man named Leonard Davidow, who printed copies of recipes and stories the he collected himself.

By 1938, Culinary Arts Press had eight cookbooks for sale. The first was on Pennsylvania Dutch food. The second was this Southern Cook Book. There later would be books on cookies, candy and Chinese recipes, as well as a "Western" cookbook.

This copy is the second printing. What originally was a cover illustration of a black cook in her kitchen was replaced in 1936 with the drawing on this cover. There were many changes in cover art on all the books through the 1940s, but the contents always were the same.

Not only is the book an interesting piece of history -- printed almost 30 years before the Civil Rights Movement gained traction in America -- the recipes cover things most of us have never seen.

There are traditional Southern dishes such as hush puppies and "pot likker," and even instructions as to how to cook 1,200 gallons of Kentucky Burgoo -- over open fires, all at once, overnight.

A meat and vegetable stew, the Burgoo's huge list of ingredients calls for 2,000 pounds of sliced and peeled potatoes, 800 pounds of soup meat and "fat hens," 600 pounds of canned tomatoes and 240 pounds of carrots.

The book advises the Burgoo can be made in smaller quantities, but it won't be the same.

There are collectors of all the books in the Culinary Arts Press series. This version would be fairly priced at $8 or $10.

Q. I recently bought this little book -- Three Bears -- at an antique shop.

It is 61/2 inches high. The cover says it is part of a "cut out series." The story is that of a little girl called "Silver-Locks" and Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Tiny Bear. I grew up with Goldilocks. What's up here? -- Kathy in Pasco

A. Almost everyone today knows the girl as Goldilocks. It hasn't always been so.

The story, which may be based on a Norwegian folk tale about a princess who takes refuge in a cave where three Russian princes dressed in bear skins live, has gone through many versions.

The tale dates to at least the early 1800s, probably earlier. The girl was first a fox. The role was next portrayed by an old, hateful woman. There has been a succession of names -- Silver Hair and Little Silver Hair, Golden Hair and Little Golden Hair and Golden Locks.

Goldilocks seems to have finally been settled on in 1904, but the names kept being interchanged through the early part of the 20th century.

In the first stories, the three bears were all male -- big, medium and little. In another version, the big bears were brother and sister and the little bear was their friend.

In this charming book, published about 1915 by Graham and Matlock of New York, the bears are Papa Bear, Mamma Bear and Master Tiny Bear.

The story, however, is the same. Silver-Locks enters the bears' house in the woods, tests the three bowls of porridge and eats Master Tiny Bear's (it has extra sugar). She then curls up in Master Tiny Bear's bed, after messing up the larger bears' bedding. The bears come home, discover the damage and missing porridge, find her and she runs away.

This book appears to be in excellent condition and we have seen it for sale at $75.

-- Terry Maurer, Tri-Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What's It Worth? by email to tchwhatsitworth@gmail.com.

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