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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Natural History

Antique Prints of Food


Among our most popular prints are those illustrating edible items, including prepared dishes, spices, herbs, desserts, vegetables, and all other sorts of food. Many of the earliest images came from herbals and botanical series, but by the nineteenth century, original prints began to appear in cook books and as separate prints. Below is a selection of food prints from our inventory. We have other similar prints inventory, so if you have favorite foods not listed here please feel free to contact us to see if we have any prints showing them.

Besler peppers
Basil Besler. [Peppers.] From Hortus Eystettensis. Eicstatt, [1613]. 19 x 16. Engraving with hand coloring. Very good condition.

A superbly decorative botanical print from Basil Besler's seventeenth century herbal. Besler's monumental florilegium invites the use of superlatives when describing it. It was the most comprehensive as well as the largest early work of its kind. It is also one of the most delightfully drawn and visually impressive ever made, as is well evidenced by these wonderful engravings. $3,200
GoGo to listing of other prints by Besler

Sweert grapes, etc.
Emanuel Sweert. [Grapes, Rosemary, Balsam, Hibiscus.] From Florilegium. Frankfurt-am-Main: Anthony Kempner, 1612. 13 3/8 x 8. Engraving. Full hand color. Very good condition.

"One of the first and most famous . . . of the florilegiums was published in Germany in 1612 by the Dutchman Emmanuel [sic] Sweert. It has no text other than a catalogue of the 'illustrated plants' in Latin, German, French and English." [Lys de Bray: The Art of Botanical Illustration, p. 47] "The work served as both a picture-book of plants and a sale catalogue, for although no information was given as to the prices of the plants, the reader was informed that they could be purchased during the Frankfurt-am-Main Fair at the author's shop opposite the Römer, and subsequently in Amsterdam." [Blunt and Stearn: The Art of Botanical Illustration, p. 104] This is a fine example of this work (of which we have many others, though not food related, in inventory). $900

A superb market mezzotint

The Larder
Joseph Farington after Martin de Vos. "The Larder." London: John Boydell, 1775. Mezzotint by Richard Earlom. 16 3/4 x 22 3/4. On laid paper. Very good condition.

This wonderful market print is from a series showing paintings which belonged to Robert Walpole (1676-1745), the first Prime Minister of Britain. In 1779 a descendant sold the collection to Catherine the Great of Russia. The prominent print publisher, John Boydell, decided that the only way to save the images for Great Britain was to have the best engravers make mezzotints depicting Walpole's famous Gallery at Houghton. Due to Catherine's purchase, most of the original paintings from the Houghton Gallery are today in the Hermitage. These prints were mezzotinted by Richard Earlom, the leading craftsman of the day whose mezzotints are amongst the finest ever produced.

This print shows a bountiful larder rendered by Joseph Farington after the painting by Martin de Vos. $2,200

From The American Flora..., by A. B. Strong, M.D. New York: Green & Spencer, 1849. Small quarto. Lithography by F. & S. Palmer. Original hand coloring. Very good condition.

A series of bold and colorful illustrations of familiar American flowers. Created as "reference for botanists, physicians, florists, gardeners, students, etc.," these prints are some of the most inviting and decorative mid-century botanical illustrations. It is their full and bright coloring, as well as the exceptionally fine selection of flowers that make them so appealing.

American Flora: European Olive
"European Olive Tree." $65
American Flora: Thea
"Thea" [Tea] $55

From François André Michaux and Thomas Nuttall's The North American Sylva. Philadelphia: D. Rice & A. N. Hart, 1856-9. Lithographs. Octavo. Original hand color.

Sent to America by the French government, Michaux published the first illustrated book on American trees, which became the standard reference on the subject. His work was subsequently supplemented by the British botanist, Thomas Nuttall, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1808. Nuttall was highly influenced by the community of noted botanists in Philadelphia, which included the Bartram family and Benjamin Smith Barton. In particular, it was Barton in particular who took an interest in Nuttall as a potential collector for his own publication, intended to rival the Michaux volumes, of which he was critical. In 1810, Barton contracted the young Nuttall for an extensive expedition of the American frontier. Ironically, it would be Nuttall who would succeed in improving on the Michaux volumes by publishing his own work. Over the next thirty years, the adventurous Nuttall would travel throughout the United States from the Oregon trail to the Pacific Northwest and on to Hawaii. Through his work, he established himself as one of the most prominent botanists of the budding American scientific community.

Californian Bay-tree
Pl. XXII. "Californian Bay-tree" $75
Florida Guava
Pl. XXV. "Florida Guava." $80
Indian Almond
Pl. XXXII. "Indian Almond" $80
Cherry fig-tree
Pl. XLI. "Cherry Fig-tree." $90
Short leaved Fig-tree
Pl. XLII. "Short leaved Fig-tree" $95
Mountain Sugar Maple
Pl. LXIX. "Mountain Sugar Maple." $95


AtelettesSpacer Modern Ball BuffetSpacer Artistic Supper Dishes No. 1

Prints from Theodore Francis Garrett's The Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery. New York: J. Arnot Penman and Philadelphia: Hudson Importing Company, ca. 1893. Ca. 8 1/2 x 6 1/2. Chromolithographs. Very good condition.

Deliciously detailed images of elaborate confections, savory dishes, table settings, etc. prepared for Garrett's eight volume Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery. Entries in the encyclopedia include descriptions of foodstuffs and their etymological and biological origins, recipes, methods of cooking and food preparation, cookware, utensils and their uses, and other practical definitions useful to the cook, chef, gourmet and gourmand. These wonderful chromolithographs were intended to illustrate the text and stimulate an interest in preparing the dishes. The marvelous excess in presentation is a trademark of late Victorian period styles and tastes, which one appreciates just as much a century later. These are mouth-watering images of remarkable feasts from the past.

Monochrome images from the series. Please contact us for images of those not already illustrated.
Portraits of chefs:


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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated December 19, 2014