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Recipe book


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Little is known about the identity of this volume's creator, though they were likely from above-average wealth given their literacy.

Recipes for Sir William James Erasmus Wilson's (1809-1884) dermatological treatments refer to a British dermatologist, surgeon, and philanthropist, who was known for his endeavor to treat disadvantaged patients. He founded the chair and museum of dermatology in the Royal College of Surgeons in 1869 and a professorship of pathology at Aberdeen University. After his death, the majority of his estate went to the Royal College of Surgeons. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1881.

There is also a recipe for, Bear's grease, which was used as a salve or pomade intended to stimulate hair growth and style the hair in the 19th century and earlier. While it was widespread and popular in the 19th century, many brands and recipes did not actually contain the expensive original ingredient. James Atkinson was a notable promoter of bear's grease in his London-based perfumery business.

Another recipe for a hair care solution included in the volume is Rowland's Macassar Oil, which was first sold around 1793 by barber and perfumer Alexander Rowland (1747/8-1832). In the following decades, the oil became very popular in England. Rowland's son, Alexander Rowland (about 1783-1854), published "An Essay on the Cultivation and Improvement of the Hair" in which he touted the benefits of the oil. By the 1840s, Rowland widely claimed that the family's oil was used by the British royal family and nobility.


Crellin, J.K. Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experience. McGill-Queen's University Press, page 88.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 28, Cambridge University Press, 1911.

"Rowland, Alexander (Bap. 1783, d. 1854), Perfumer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Accessed 13 Nov. 2023.

This volume contains 100 culinary, household, and medicinal recipes created or compiled in the 1880s in England. The majority of the recipes are household and medicinal and there are numerous recipes related to hair care, hair styling, and hair loss. The volume is bound in original black calico covered boards with marbled edges.

The majority of the volume consists of blank pages (p. 1-13, 35-37, and 72-314). There are also numerous clippings with recipes pasted in (p. 29, 34, 50, 55-62).

Examples of recipes include Rowland's Macassar Oil (p. 15), Locock's stimulant hair lotion (p. 19), plum cake (20), inks (p. 21), to promote the growth of hair (p. 23), Erasmus Wilson's [ointment, presumably for a dermatological condition] (p. 23), hair dye (p. 26), bear's grease (p. 27), coltsfoot wine (p. 32), cure or preventing scarlet fever (p. 39), colored inks for stamping (p. 47), Worcester sauce (p. 48), spermacetic ointment (p. 64), chutney (p. 67), shampoo (p. 69), and apple float (p. 70).

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge Smallwood
Finding Aid Date
2023 November 13
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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Recipe book, circa 1880s.
Volume 1

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