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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.

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Johann Christoph Volckamer. Print from Nurnbergishe Hesperides. Nuremberg, 1708-1714. Approx. 12 3/4 x 8 1/4. Copper engravings. Lovely hand color. Very good condition.

These are superb examples of one of the most sought after and unusual series of botanical prints from the eighteenth century. At that time, structures known as orangeries came into fashion. Wealthy Europeans sought to grow and keep warmer climate plants, such as citrus and even palm trees, throughout the year. The potted trees could be transferred into these greenhouses to avoid the harsher, northern winters. These beautiful prints by Johann C. Volkcamer illustrate types of the then newly popular citrus fruit in delicate detail. Encircling the fruit are baroque ribbons naming each of the varieties. The large fruit hang serenely in the foreground over exquisite landscapes, country houses, and gardens. Most of the which were located in and around Volckamer's home of Nuremberg as well as northern Italy. The whole effect is somewhat surreal, yet still highly reflective of eighteenth century European taste.

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Allom: Tea
Thomas Allom. "The culture and preparation of Tea." From Rev. G.N. Wright's China: In a Series of Views, Displaying the Scenery, Architecture, and Social Habits, of That Ancient Empire. London: Fisher & Son, 1843. Octavo. Steel engraving A. Willmore.

Thomas Allom (1804-1872) was a British architect, artist and topographical illustrator, who was also a founding member of what became the Royal Institute of British Architects. Allom designed a number of churches and public building in London and elsewhere in England, as well as collaborating on projects for the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle.

Allom's illustrations appeared in Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (1838) and Character and Costume in Turkey and Italy (1840) as well as this volume on China, which contained nearly 150 steel engravings after Allom's drawings. Striking and dramatic views of the far East for a European market. $125

Duhamel: Plum
Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau. Tom II. Pl. IX "Perdrigon Violet." From Traité des Arbres Fruitiers, nouvelle édition, augmenté d'un grand nombre d'espèces de fruits obtenus des progrès de la culture.... First Edition. Paris, 1768. Folio. Stipple engraving printed in color and finished by hand. Full margins. Excellent condition.

One example from anexquisite group of fruit prints done during the heyday of French botanical illustration. These elegant cuttings of ripe fruit, seen also in cross section and with their blossoms, were done from drawings by Aubriet, Mlle. Basseport and Le Berriays. They were then engraved by a group carefully picked artists. They are unusual and important for the uncommon talent and care that went into their making. These prints are a fine product of the period when botanical prints were just beginning to come into their own in France, all the more desirable for their rarity as fruit prints of the highest quality. They do indeed live up to their reputation of coming from one of the "finest and rarest books on fruit, with many beautiful plates." Ref.: Gordon Dunthorne, Flower & Fruit Prints of the 18th and early 19th centuries, p. 192. $225

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: [1817-19]. Stipple engravings. (Arabic plate numbers) or Philadelphia: D. Rice & A. N. Hart, 1856-9. Lithographs. (Roman numerals) 8 x 5. 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.

Go ToGo to complete listing of Michaux's American Sylva prints page

Red Cherry
Pl. 90. "Red Cherry." $145
Pl. 93. "Persimon." [sic] $135
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
Small Fruited Fig Tree
Pl. LXIII. "Small Fruited Fig Tree." $90
Mountain Sugar Maple
Pl. LXIX. "Mountain Sugar Maple." $95
Drummond's Maple
Pl. LXX. "Drummond's Maple." $85
Papaw Tree
Pl. XCVI. "Papaw Tree" $125


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 Last updated July 16, 2021