A leaf from the rare copy of Edward Abbott’s 'The English and Australian Cookery Book' of 1864 sold by Australian Book Auctions.

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A copy of Ernest Anderson & FP Spry’s Victorian Butterflies, and how to collect them, an illustrated work published in two parts in Melbourne in 1893-94, was here bound together in what were described as stiffened marbled wrappers. It was one that many years later, in 1920, had been inscribed by Spry to an EE Prescott.

Valued at just Aus$200 or so, it sold instead at Aus$12,000 (£6425).

The top lot at the September 8 sale was one that went on to raise a considerably higher than expected Aus$14,000 (£7500).

Edward Abbott’s The English and Australian Cookery Book, published in London in 1864, claimed to offer cookery for the many, as well as for the “Upper Ten Thousand”, and to be the work of an “Australian Aristologist”.


A detail of the upper cover of Edward Abbott’s The English and Australian Cookery Book of 1864 sold by Australian Book Auctions, showing its appealing gilt device on the damaged but original binding.

Illustrated with four colour plates, this copy was in poor condition, with several leaves loose and/or stained and entirely detached within its original binding, though with one now lacking the original spine.

This was nevertheless a rare appearance at auction of an anonymously published work said to have represented the first flowering in Australia of a tradition of gastronomic literature.