Michelin guides from 1900 to present day to sell at Christie's
A complete set of Michelin Guides spanning 116 years will be offered at a Christie's sale later this year.
Although today the guide is associated with the world's finest restaurants, it was originally conceived as a guide for motorists travelling across France.
Brothers André and Édouard Michelin created the guide in 1900 with a simple aim – to boost their fledgling tire business. At the time there were less than 3,000 cars roads in France, and the brothers needed to encourage more motorists onto the roads.
They created the guide, which aimed to "provide motorists travelling through France all the useful information to supply their automobile, to fix it, where to sleep and eat, and which means exist to communicate, by mail, telegraph or telephone".
The guide was initially given away for free, and publishing was suspended during WWI, but by 1920 the Michelin brothers were charging a small fee for the rapidly growing book.
The guide evolved over the years, and as the brothers recognized the growing popularity of the restaurant section, they began to place more focus on reviews. They hired a team of discreet inspectors to visit and review establishments, and in 1926 began to rate establishments with a single star.
The guide's now-famous three-star rating system was then introduced in 1931, and the criteria for these reviews were revealed in 1936:
1 Michelin star: "A very good restaurant in its category"
2 Michelin stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
3 Michelin stars: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"
This system has remained in place ever since, and to this day the acquisition or loss of a Michelin star can seriously affect the fortunes of a restaurant.
The complete set of red French books, representing the history of the guide from the turn of the century to the present day, is expected to sell for €20,000 - €30,000 ($22,320 - $33,480).
The Christie's Books & Manuscripts auction takes place in Paris on December 5.