Cookbook Subscribers ~1747

How Books Were Printed in the 1700s.

Looking for Character Names?

In the Introduction to The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747), written by A Lady, the authoress includes a list of names of subscribers. Here’s what the interwebs have to say about subscribers, credit to U Penn Library for writing about the subscribers process:

Well-to-do patrons, to whom such works might be dedicated, or subscribers who paid in advance for the opportunity to acquire a work: such an audience was able to make a publisher’s investment secure even before a book was printed and sold.

Subscription publishing became an accepted method of publication during the seventeenth century. As a way of acknowledging subscribers, authors included printed lists of subscribers in the work, often at the beginning, in place of or in addition to a dedication. The works typically sold by subscription in the seventeenth century were atlases, geographies, and histories, especially Bible histories. But important works of English literature were also published in this manner. Among them was, for example, the first illustrated edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost, published by the great London publisher, Jacob Tonson in 1688. Its subscriber list names more than five hundred prominent individuals.

By the end of the eighteenth century, however, a variety of abuses had led to decline in the subscription method of publishing in England.

Fascinating bit of history inside of our cookbook today. When I read through these lists, I summon up romantic scenes taken from Jane Austen novels. Perhaps they can inspire a novelist today?


Source: The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747.

More Fun Discoveries from Antique Cookbooks

2 thoughts on “Cookbook Subscribers ~1747

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  1. I never knew about subscribers before; thank you. Now that I think about it, sub=under, scribe=write, so that is where the word came from. I wonder how much people put up???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, to underwrite came from – I believe – Lloyd’s of London. I’m telling this second hand, but the shipments going out would be on large boards with lines underneath the cargo. Insurers would write their names under those lines, hence the word underwrite. But that’s not to say that subscribe didn’t come from that!


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