Monday, September 26, 2011

The Buttolph Menu Collection

Diamond Jubilee Luncheon Menu for delegates held by the New York Life Insurance Company at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1905.

Dinner held by Champlain Hotel at the D&H Dining Car Service between Rouses Point, Hotel Champlain and Whitehall in 1900.

Annual dinner hosted by the New England Society of the city of New York in 1894. 

The Sons of Delaware annual banquet at the Union League Club, Philadelphia, 1896. 

Daily bill of fare at Mart Ackerman's Saloon in Toronto from 1856. 

1886 menu held by the Provinzial-Quartetts during several days at the Furstenhof in Magdeburg, Germany.

Dinner held by Nippon Yusen Kaisha aboard the S.S. Kamakura Maru in 1900. 

1900 bill of fare at the Lager Beer Saloon on Whitechapel Road, in London.

Menu from the Hotel Timeo in Taormina, Sicily from 1900. 

20th Century Anniversary dinner for CCNY class of 1880, Hotel Manhattan in NY, 1900.
Luncheon held by Philitscikoma at Hotel Savoy in NY in 1900. 

Banquet for President William McKinley held by the citizens of San Francisco at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1901.

Dinner held by the Waldhaus Arosa (in Switzerland?) in 1900. Menu text is mimeographed.

Curious little hand-painted menu with a pink ribbon for a bachelor dinner held by Dr. F.Martin at a private club in Ohio in 1897. WTF, is this dude being a gentleman or a rogue?

All of these menus are from a collection at the New York Public Library collected by Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924) whose curious mission in life it seems was to collect menus. In 1899, she offered to donate her existing collection to the Library, and she continued collecting on the Library's behalf until her death in 1924. Miss Buttolph was rather persistent in her efforts, and would write to every restaurant she could find, requesting they send her menus. When this failed, she would often march into a restaurant and plead her case in person. She also placed advertisements in trade publications and received contributions of specimens from around the world when news of her menu mission was published in The New York Times on several occasions. The Times noted that "she frankly avers that she does not care two pins for the food lists on her menus, but their historic interest means everything". Today, the collection is one of the largest menu collections in the world and it continues to grow through additional gifts and donations. 


  1. As a graphic designer, your blog makes me gasp and *sigh* with wistfulness. Thanks for all your posts!

  2. Thank you for your nice comment Dimitri! Finding materials that are fresh and relevant is a constant task, but I do enjoy it. Always nice to hear others do as well!

  3. Jennifer, I thought you might like to know who Miss Buttolph was. The New York Public Library can't tell this story. Follow an be surprised. SMO

  4. Miss Buttolph was quite a character no doubt. Thank you for sharing a little of her story Stephen. You have to love any 19th C woman who goes by the name of Frank!


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