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Mass Production

Christmas menu, The Palmer, December 25, 1883


Although many menus were undoubtedly custom-designed by printing companies and engravers in both Europe and America, it is not surprising that mass production of menu folders took place beginning in the late 19th century. The “menu cabinet” contained samples of menu folders (into which the restaurant would slip their individual menu sheet) for restaurants that were not able or could not afford to produce individual artwork for their menus. Restaurant owners could thus view a variety of menu designs for different occasions, events, and holidays and purchase them in quantities of 100 or 1000; prices were listed on the inside cover.

In America, trade publications such as Hotel World catered to those in the restaurant business as well, and contained advertisements from manufacturers such as S.D. Childs & Co., who sold menu covers along with other items required for the hotel business.