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The best vintage books, IMHO, are the early ones that talk about the practical skill of domestic science: home management. Most often these are written to the attention of women and are full of old time treasured information on how to do just about every aspect of running a home. So is it all about cleaning and feeding? Hardly! Hidden in-between the lines of these fabulous resources is a whole new glimpse into the power of women in 19th century and early 20th century.
My oldest book is The Practical Housekeeper and Cyclopedia of Domestic Economy, dated in 1898. Seriously every aspect of living seems to be covered in this guide. Any business man who failed to run a company in the same manner as the women of the home would lose his fortunes for sure. To those who say things like : "Oh women just stayed at home and didn't have opportunity" are seriously mistaken. I doubt there are too many people today who are charged with all the detail management of the Victorian home: Dwelling management, food supply, cost management, accounting, health care, child care, elder care, husband care (Domestic Manipulation!), manufacture and use of cements, purity of water, store room and marketing, culinary arts extraordinaire - to name a few.