Vintage royal icing books from the beginning of the 20th century. I collect them and oh, how I love them. They are an endless source of inspiration for anyone who loves the vintage style of royal icing. It can be difficult knowing whether or not a vintage baking book is any good. All mine are purchased after getting recommendations from good friends, or seing pictures online. They can be difficult to find, but persevere. Suddenly they will show up on ebay or amazon or abebooks or you might stumble upon them in your local antiquarian bookstore. If you are lucky, they might even be cheap, but unfortunately the great interest in some of these books have driven the price to places where you have to sell your left kidney. So better start saving now. Or start out with the cheaper specimens. These books were written for professionals. They are trade books. The recipes are often for huge quantities and the instructions are vague - same goes for the decoration instructions. Don't expect anyone to hold your hand. They are not hobby books, but books used by actual bakers. The quality of the pictures used varies greatly, and they are almost always black and white. I'm working my way through my collection to give you an in-depth review of each book. Below is a list, with a clickable link, if a review has been posted. NB: The prices listed are not the prices I have paid myself, but the prices currently listed by booksellers, or, in the case of impossible-to-find-books, the most recent winning bids on eBay I could find. Prices chance all the time, it's all a matter of supply and demand. Joseph Lambeth: The Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries (1936) Click here for a full review 308 pages. Probably the most famous one, this book has it all. Half the book is recipes for all kinds of yummy bakery stuff, the rest is decorating. Some basic instructions as well. Lots of overpiping and flowers. I have been told that the pictures are of poorer quality in the newer editions from the 70's and 80's. Since I haven't seen any of the newer copies myself, I do not know if this is true. This book is very easy to find (especially on abebooks), which makes the extremely high prices somewhat mindboggling. You can get 1st editions is a reasonable shape from $350, but some sellers are asking as much as $1000. Sometimes you can get real lucky, and find a copy that sells for $150. S.P. Borella: Cake Tops and Sides (ca. 1910) Click here for a full review 147 pages. This is one of my favorites. 34 designs for cake tops and for the corresponding cake sides. The cakes are very elaborate and the skill level needed for some of them is high. But totally worth the tears. This book can be very hard to find. Expect to pay around $100, or more. Although I have seen a few selling for as low as $20. Ernest Schulbe: Cake Decoration (ca. 1900) Click here for a full review 86 pages. Has some basic instructions, the rest is patterns for cake tops and side decorations. Very bold designs, lots of netting and large swirls. Very easy to find, as it has been reprinted as a facsimile (aka a scanned copy of an original). I don't know how the quality of the reprinted copy is. An original copy might be harder to find, but it's not impossible. Expect to pay around $50-75 for the original, $20 for the reprint. Ernest Schulbe: Advanced Piping and Modelling (1937, 3rd edition) Click here for a full review 254 pages. As the title says, an advanced decorating book. Lots of beautiful (and complicated) royal icing. Some of the cakes require nails, that are no longer made. Also some modelling of flowers and figures in marzipan and gumpaste. No recipes. The pictured cakes have instructions provided, but they are not always clear. The pictures are generally good, but it can be difficult to see the pattern clearly on some of them. Some basic information. This book can be difficult to find. Expect to pay around $250. Nirvana: Commercial Cake Decoration (1950) Click here for a full review 95 pages. This is actually a great book for beginners. It has some pretty simple and beautiful designs, for those just starting their overpiping adventure. This book is reasonably easy to find. Expect to pay around $20. Nirvana: Advanced Piping and Cake Designs (1950) 160 pages. This is The Book for anyone interested in run outs and collared cakes. The first few chapters have some pretty good descriptions of the process, and the rest of the book is filled with cake designs and short instructions for each one. This book is reasonably easy to find. Expect to pay around $35. Nirvana: Decorated Cakes and Confectionery (1954) 221 pages. This is more a pastry decorating book, but has some royal icing designs as well. Nirvana is famous for his run out pieces, and this book features a bunch of them, but no basic instructions. The rest is typical British bakery items for Christmas, Easter, weddings and so forth. A few recipes and instructions for making easter eggs, simnel cakes and decorated shortbreads. Pretty easy to find. Expect to pay around $50-75. George Cox: The Art of Confectionery (1901) Click here for a full review 104 pages. An old little book with some amazing and some not so amazing designs. Superficial instructions. Unfortunately the decorating section is a rather small part of the book, the rest being recipes for bakery items. Stupidly hard to find - eBay is your best bid (pun intended). Usually sells for around $400 + your firstborn child. T. Percy Lewis: The Trades Cake Book (ca. 1912) 166 pages. Mostly recipes and pictures of baked goods, decorated cakes and royal icing. Has some very beautiful cakes. Instructions for the cakes pictured are not provided, but the pictures are reasonably clear, so you should be able to figure it out yourself if you have some experience. Hard to find, not completely impossible. Expect to pay $250-400. Hanneman and Marshall: Cake Design and Decoration (1955) 262 pages. This is actually the closest to a beginners book I have seen. It provides a lot of detailed information about everything royal icing. It has an entire chapter on how to draw a balanced template ("Geometric principles in cake designing"), there is lettering, stenciling, overpiping, run outs and much more. It is a great book, but since it is post-World War II, the designs are very clean and less elaborate than the ones from the first part of the 20th century. Easy to find. Expect to pay around $20 for the editions from the 70's. More if it's the first edition.