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[GLASSE, Hannah.]

The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy;

Which far exceeds any thing of the kind ever yet published. By A Lady.

Published: London: printed for the author; and sold at Mrs Ashburn's, 1747

Stock code: 91711

Price: £25,000

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First edition of this landmark cookery book by Hannah Glasse (1708-1770), which went through eight editions in the author’s lifetime (all later editions being in smaller format). It was reprinted 33 times in 50 years, was the most popular cookery book of the 18th century and probably its best-selling non-religious title, and remained the household culinary authority until Mrs Beeton’s works appeared over a century later. This unprecedentedly comprehensive recipe book, which far exceeded “any thing of the kind ever yet published” (Glasse’s long-title), was written not “in the high, polite Stile” but “to instruct the lower Sort” (that is, the literate servant), and was pleasingly laid out for practical use. It is also highly characterful; Glasse’s preface contains the following observation on the difference between the French and the English taste in home economics: “A Frenchman, in his own country, would dress a fine Dinner of twenty Dishes and all genteel and pretty, for the Expence he will put an English Lord to for dressing one Dish. But then there is the little petty Profit. I have heard of a Cook that used six Pounds of Butter to fry twelve Eggs; when every Body knows, that understands Cooking, that Half a Pound is full enough, or more than need to be used: But then it would not be French. So much is the blind Folly of this Age, that they would rather be impos’d on by a French Booby, than give Encouragement to a good English Cook!” Certainly a part of Glasse’s project was to give encouragement to good English cooking, and there is indeed an entire chapter entitled, “Read this Chapter, and you will find how expensive a French Cook’s Sauce is”, however this Art of Cookery is not all down-to-earth matter-of-fact good English fare (though that is the focus), as more exotic recipes are occasionally interpolated, ranging from directions “To Crimp Cod the Dutch way”, to how “To make a Currey the India way”. There is also a chapter dedicated to cooking “for the Sick”, one with special long-lasting recipes “for the Captains of Ships” (including “Sea Venison”), one with directions for making wines and brewing beer, one with interesting advice for the house keeper on “How to market” (that is, what to buy in what season), and a final chapter with cures for rabies and the plague. It should be noted, as yet another testament to its wide-ranging popularity and influence, that the Art of Cookery became the rubric for the culinary literature of North America, since the first American cookery books were effectively pirated reprints of Glasse’s work. First editions of Glasse’s Art of Cookery are genuinely rare in contemporary binding, and this is an exceptionally tall copy.

Folio (303 184 mm). Contemporary calf-backed marbled boards, vellum tips, spine with five raised bands, red sprinkled edges. Housed in a dark brown quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery. Some restoration to strengthen joints at the ends, calf splitting a little to joints at the centre but all holding, boards generally worn with a few marks, small instance of worming near foot at rear pastedown affecting pp. 163-6, final leaf a little creased, lacking rear free endpaper, but a very good copy, notably tall, in a contemporary binding, and remarkably clean for a book so often put through deleterious usage. The front free endpaper bears the ownership inscription, “Warriston House”, Edinburgh, originally the seat of Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston (1611–1663), first in a line of prominent Scottish statesmen.

Bibliography: Bitting pp. 186–7; Maclean pp. 58–61; Oxford pp. 76–7; Vicaire 48.

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