Sunday, September 28, 2014

TheInspiredTrader Etsy Shop News - Watkins Hearthside Cook Book Illustrations

1950's Retro Illustrations - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Retro Kitchen Decor

Appetizers and Soups Section Illustration from Watkins Hearthside Cook Book

Watkins 1952 Retro Illustration Cheesehead and Egghead
I have to share my latest shop project and offerings.  Loving old cookbooks as I do, I recently found a vintage 1952 edition of the Watkins Hearthside Cookbook and fell in love with the two tone illustrations.  What's not to love!?!  While the overall condition of the cookbook wasn't up to par (paint drips on the cover, spotted and food stained pages) to sell in my shop.  There were enough great illustrations on clean pages to cinch the sale.  I knew the illustrations would be delightful matted and framed for retro kitchen art.  So my journey began and I've had the most fun over the past couple of weeks putting together these ready to frame matted illustrations.  But first...

Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Recipe Page with Fisherman

A little history of Watkins and the Hearthside Cookbook

I'm happy to report Watkins Incorporated is still in business, since 1868, and on the web; so many old US companies I write about are not.  Headquartered in Winona, Minnesota, they still sell spices, extracts, and baking products; and sell all natural bath and body, health related items and cleaning products.  What I didn't know was they originally were a door-to-door company.  Today, you can purchase Watkins products via direct sales on the web or in big box stores such as Whole Foods and Target.  Independent representatives "brokers" remain a core part of their business plan; offering unique sizing and a slightly different product line.  If you'd like to learn more about the company Wikipedia has a concise post about them which you can read here or check out the company history on their web site (linked above).

The first Watkins cookbook (I was able to find) was published in 1938 and was not illustrated.  It has been digitized by Google and is available here Watkins 1938 Cookbook on Google Books.  However, their most beloved cookbook is the 1952 edition prized for it's illustrations as well as great recipes.  When food blogger are blogging about it, you know it's good!  Authored by Ruth Robbins a Watkins home economist, it sold for $2.50.  It is copyrighted and included in the Library of Congress LC 53016180.  The cookbook I have appears to be a first edition.

Take a look at these funky, fun, retro illustrations!

Crying Chef - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration & Recipe Page

Watkins 1952 Hearthside Cookbook Baked Beans Recipe Page with Illustration

Little Devils Cooking - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration and Recipe Page

While Ruth Robbins was credited for her work, all the fabulous classic 1950's graphic illustrations go uncredited.  WHAT!?! The detective in me wanted to find the illustrator, and so my search began.  While searching 1950's illustrations and illustrators I found the 1948 James Beard's Fireside Cook Book illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen.  Hmm.  Take a look at the Provensen's Fireside Cook Book illustrations.

Dancing Retro Housewife - 1950's Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration and Recipe Page

Mixer Illustration - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

Lighthearted take on Rajasthan Art - Vintage Illustration from Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

To say the James Beard cookbook was an influence on the Watkins cookbook would be an understatement.  After my research, I truly believe Alice and Martin Provensen created all the graphic illustrations for the Hearthside cookbook also.  Uncredited possibly due to contractual agreements associated with illustrating Beard's cookbook.  There were other prominent illustrators during the 1940's and 1950's which I researched who had similar illustrations, BUT with notable differences in style.  Alice and Martin Provensen's work has a distinct style.  So, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Retro Oriental Chicken Illustration - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

Who would want to tear a perfectly good copy of a cookbook apart for the illustrations?  According to the Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, published in 2014, the Watkins Hearthside Cook Book value ranges between $34.00 and $61.00.  You can find copies for sale on eBay for over $180.00 (at the time of writing) with the dust jacket; but the average price on Etsy is between $20.00 and $30.00 without the dust jacket (which folds out into a poster).  To answer the question "Who would want to tear apart a perfectly good vintage cookbook?" the answer would be, no one <er ah> me.  I've done the dirty work for you!  Ha!


Retro Kitchen Decor

With so many different illustrations to choose from, you are sure to find your perfect page or a special page for someone you know.  Know a Chef?  Got you covered!  Know a Wisconsin Cheesehead?  There's one!  Have a beach themed kitchen?  I've got that too!  Or if your like me and just love the retro 1950's illustrations, you know each one will lend that personal touch to your kitchen decor and give you that vintage vibe you seek.  With brand new matting they'll go with a modern or vintage style kitchen and make a great gift.  The color pallets are back in style and easily coordinate with modern paint colors.

There are quite a few sellers of up cycled book pages with graphics printed over the typeset.  But I've never seen these illustrations matted and ready to frame offered up for sale.  Each one an original page, not a scan or color copy and each one guaranteed to be entertaining and a conversation piece.  The spark that will make your kitchen decor special.

Democratic Kitchen Art

I knew I wanted to keep the pricing "democratic"and offer a custom piece.  So I've done all the leg work and the production.


If you have ever had custom framing done you know how expensive it can be.  I wanted to offer you original pages matted for under $20.00 dollars delivered.  And I have, the ready to frame matted illustration cost $17.00 delivered.  I worked with  Ron at the Matstofit shop on Etsy to create the custom mattes for the first 12 Watkins Hearthside Cook Book page illustrations listings offered.  Ron was great to work with, ships quickly and has an outstanding product.  If you are looking for custom mattes and frames he's your go to guy on Etsy.  These matted original illustrations are fab and ready to ship.

Here's the details of the dimensions and your framing options.

  • The original recipe page and/or illustration page is matted to fit a regular 8 x 10 frame or an 8 x 10 Format Frame.
  • Because I read the reviews on Format Frames, particular attention was paid to ensure you get a good (albeit snug) fit in a Format Frame as the interior dimensions run a little small.
  • Eight x Ten Format Frames run about $4.00 at the big box stores making this affordable kitchen art or gift.  Each one is an original page, not a reprint or scan.
  • The actual size is just under 8 x 10 and will fit in a standard 8 x 10 frame.
All the Watkins Hearthside Cook Book illustrations featured here are available in my shop on Etsy.  You'll find a link to the listings in the caption area as well as in the shop widget located in the upper right hand side blog panel.

Each one has been lovingly selected, cut and mounted in high quality black matting.  You will receive your illustration in a plastic sleeve and shipped in a rigid flat chip board mailer.  Should you choose to purchase more than one, shipping on additional selections is combined and will ship at a reduced rate.  There are several in the same color way.  Share this with your friends who love vintage too and be sure to visit my shop for more fun, funky and fabulous vintage.

Thanks for stopping in!