Just Recovered: Estate Purchase Rhode Island

This is my first (and likely not my last) purchase of a recipe collection I found on eBay. I am discovering how intrigued I am by old recipes, the recipe cards or clippings that contain them, the handwriting, the personal notations of ‘very good’ or ‘made for Christmas’, the frayed edges, and unraveling the mystery of who collected them. The person from who I bought this recipe box had purchased it this summer at an estate sale in Rhode Island. Beyond this, I had no other information.

Fortunately, the recipes themselves provided clues. Several were written to ‘Gladys’ and newspaper clippings from the Providence Journal showed that Gladys had lived in or near Providence, Rhode Island. I googled and googled until I discovered an obituary announcement noting a Gladys, age 84 who had passed away on May 30th. The timing matched well with when the recipe box was originally purchased in Rhode Island to when I next purchased it on eBay.

I studied the box and its simple design. A nicely crafted wood box, it is simple yet sturdy with a red emblem on the front. The emblem says “Weis”. Beneath this name is the tiniest print, I had to put the box under a bright light and to squint really hard to read, “Monroe, Mich.”. Being born and raised in Michigan, I am familiar with Monroe and found this to be an interesting coincidence. A bit more googling and I discovered that Weis Manufacturing operated in Monroe from 1906-1968 making a variety of office products from binders to bookcases. And, apparently a few recipe boxes.

The recipe box contains over 200 recipes and has a pungent smell of ‘old paper’. Many of the recipes are handwritten on recipe cards or scrap paper, but there are a few newspaper clippings, recipe booklets/inserts from various products, and one recipe written on the back of an ice delivery receipt dated July 27th, 1931.

Gladys focused heavily on baked goods of all types. Dates seem to be a common theme in many recipes and I’m not sure if that was a popular product of the time or whether Gladys really liked dates. In later years, I can only assume she also took an interest in bran muffins, since there are quite a few versions filed away in this box. There are also interesting recipes for things I haven’t heard of before, like English Monkey, Potato Candy, or Pineapple Pie.

In the coming days and weeks as I read through the recipes, I will share the ones that catch my eye.

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