Historic restaurant menus – Frank Buttolph’s original collection

With 25-year reputation in the areas of printing, advertising and printed communication, Studio Live Design & Printing offers you the guarantee of a well-designed and well-imprinted menu that worthily represents the image of your restaurant, as the restaurant catalogues and menus are the mirror of your kitchen and meals that you offer to the clients.
Let’s travel today in the past of the menu printing, by taking a look at Frank E. Buttolph’s historical collection of restaurant catalogues and menus.
Tucked away in the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library lies a gastronomic treasure trove of authentic New York dining menus. Dating from the early 1840s to the present day, this immense collection of 45,000 menus offers a rare taste of New York through the ages.
Astonishingly, more than half of the archived menus held by the institution were collected by a single woman, an unmarried schoolteacher named Frank E. Buttolph. Frank collected all sorts of menus, from restaurants, hotels, steamships, and trains. She insisted that they be clean and rejected those from businesses she sensed were simply trying to get publicity. Many she preserved were from club banquets or dinners celebrating famous individuals. Most were American, but she also collected menus commemorating the opening of the Suez Canal, menus from Royal Courts and from other exotic occasions worldwide.
A spirited collector, Buttolph spent the majority of her 20-plus-year career as a volunteer archivist at the New York Public Library soliciting menus from restaurants, hotels and coffee shops around New York City. Her painstaking efforts to collect modern day throwaways date back to 1899, when Miss Frank E. Buttolph donated her collection of thousands of New York restaurant menus to the New York Public Library. In return for her gift, Director John Shaw Billings agreed to give Buttolph a volunteer position as the library’s menu archivist, a role that allowed her to continue to collect menus on the library’s behalf.
Buttolph’s fascination with collecting menus—which the New York Times once attributed to her “feminine instincts for accumulation,” and for which she was largely misunderstood by a male-dominated press—led her to keep collecting until her death in 1924. By then, she had gathered more than 25,000 menus, which became known as the Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection (1851-1930), today identified by Buttolph’s characteristic blue stamp in the library’s archives.
Shortly after her death, several unknown students of history began to reignite Buttolph’s archive, which today boasts over 40,000 menus.
See the entire collection here.
Source: www.observer.com

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