A Useful Recipe Book?

I have a very old hand-written recipe book. Not your usual sort of collection of well-loved family puddings, cakes and stews. This book, handed down from the Yorkshire/Lancashire branch of the family contains not one edible item. Instead, it’s full of tips on how to clean brass, make ink, and cure cholera. It must be very old indeed. Often the letter s is expressed as an f. I think it must date from the days before census entries from the 19th century indicate that many of my family members were involved in trade, or in reasonably supervisory positions in the textile mills. They tended to live in respectable but simple terraces houses in the likes of Batley and Colne.

Oddly, the first few and the last few pages of my little book are blank, but here’s a list of the contents:

Naptha Polish

Crimson Colour for (?) Show Bottles

Deep red

Cure for the Cholera

For Cleaning Brass and Copper Goods

Polishing Paiste (sic) for Brass, Tin, Copper and Plated Goods

For Etching on Glass etc. etc.

Superior Blacking for Boots and Shoes

Red Oils for Bruses (sic) Sprains etc.

Lyth Ung for Burns Scalds Inflammations

To remove Tarter (sic) from the Teeth


Witworth Red Bottle

An Efficacious Receipt for the Rheumatism

The Original Family Receipt for a good Stomach Pill

Recept (sic) for the Cholera

For the Dysentery

Liquor of Iron

Blue Ink

Black Ink

Mint Water

Peppermint Cordial

Paste Blacking

Spirit Varnish

Pills for the Tic Debereaux (sic)

Composition for Mounting Frames etc.

Cow Drink for Heifers

Horse Powder

A comprehensive guide for the householder, I think you’ll agree? I’ll publish a few of the recipes over the next few weeks. Now, which ones do you need?

By the way, I took these photos rather quickly, with my phone. I’ll do them the honour of much better attempts for any further posts.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

38 thoughts on “A Useful Recipe Book?”

  1. Fascinating! Re: the letter s – it’s not an f, it lacks the cross / slash in the upper part of the letter. It was the way an s was represented in “black letter” (called “Fraktur” in German) except at the end of a word and sometimes in the middle of a word at the end of a syllable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Naptha has been used for a very long time, and still is in the petrochemical industry. Mothballs used to be made out of napthalene, don’t know if they still are, and insecticides also.

    I wonder if the crimson was used to colour bottles to slow deterioration of contents?

    All very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always fascinated by those old booklets and ‘how to’. As the largest of our ‘real’ paintings crashed behind our leather sofa and it’s frame was splittered to smidgens, I could do with a ‘how to make a new frame’ LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I Love this, as you can imagine! Obviously I want to know the cure for cholera, that goes without saying.


  5. I wouldn’t joke about Covid-19 cures lest you find yourself at the centre of a fake news controversy in a few week’s time, with Chris Witty calling you out for it in a press conference. Just saying as your site is so liberally scattered with my likes that my reputation might suffer too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, one look at these recipes, which I will publish, will demonstrate that I don’t think they’d be useful against cholera, Covid or anything else. In fact they would probably do more harm than good. For anybody suffering from anything.


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