Professor John Fuller, formerly Director of the Scottish Hotel School at the University of Strathclyde and then, until his retirement in 1976, Head of the Department of Catering Management at Oxford Polytechnic, built up the Collection over forty years and in 1978 offered it to the Polytechnic, as it then was, for purchase. It was bought following an appeal to local industry and to the hospitality industry for financial support, and is now on public display in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Library.
The Collection holds a wealth of material covering many areas of hospitality and is notable for its holdings of 18th and 19th century books, although the oldest items date from the 17th century. For example, there is an edition of The Forme of Cury, which is one of the oldest collections of recipes in this country, and was compiled by the unnamed head chef of Richard II around 1390. In actual fact, this is quite a late edition, unfortunately – dating only from 1780.
In addition to its book and pamphlet stock, the Collection also contains much ephemera in the form of recipe leaflets, cuttings and scrapbooks, as well as a large number of manuscript recipe and household books, all offering fascinating insights into the history of gastronomy and catering in this country, and elsewhere.