Item Details
The Joy of Cooking. A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat.
St. Louis, MO: A. C. Clayton Printing Co. 1931. First edition, privately published by the author in an edition of 3000 copies, and illustrated by the author’s daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, who also designed the dust jacket depicting St. Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, who took up a mop to fend off the dragon Tarasque. Irma von Starkloff Rombauer, the daughter of Max von Starkloff, an affluent St. Louis doctor, studied art at Washington University, and enjoyed a brief romance with the writer Booth Tarkington before marrying Edgar Rombauer, a lawyer, in 1899. As she wrote in her introduction to The Joy of Cooking, “Will it encourage you to know that I was once as ignorant, helpless and awkward a bride as was ever foisted on an impecunious young lawyer? Together we placed many a burnt offering upon the altar of matrimony.” After her husband committed suicide after decades of intermittent depression in 1930, Rombauer needed to find a means of support and decided to publish a book of the recipes that she had perfected as a homemaker, as the teacher of a cooking class for the Women’s Alliance at a midwestern church that she had started in 1922 and as hostess to numerous civic and cultural organizations in St. Louis to which the Rombauers belonged, including the elite Wednesday Club, of which she eventually became president. Using part of the $6000.00 legacy she had received following her husband’s death, Rombauer paid the Clayton Printing Company to publish her cookbook, which she marketed herself, selling copies for $3.00 apiece, and managing to sell approximately 2000 copies in two years, no mean accomplishment in the early years of the Great Depression. The original edition enjoyed modest success, but it was not until Bobbs-Merrill took over the commercial publication of the book in 1936 that The Joy of Cooking began its rise to the position it holds today, that of the most popular and best-selling cookbook in American history, with nearly 18 million copies sold to date. The Joy of Cooking is the only cookbook to be included in the New York Public Library’s list of 150 Influential Books of the Century. The first edition of The Joy of Cooking is scarce, and copies in the original dust jacket are extremely rare, with the jackets, as with the vast majority of vintage cookbooks, almost inevitably found worn and stained when found at all. The dust jacket is of particular interest; in the six short paragraphs of text printed on the inside front flap of the jacket, Rombauer presented her thoughts and intentions in publishing The Joy of Cooking: “In this book every effort has been made to add variety and interest to everyday fare, as well as to provide dishes for special occasions.” Acutely aware of the economic depression into which she is casting her book, Rombauer goes on to note that “The Zeitgeist is reflected in the Chapter on Leftovers and in many other practical suggestions.” These comments do not appear in the one-page Preface to the book, and they are not printed elsewhere. 8vo, illustrated by Marion Rombauer, original cloth, pictorial dust jacket. The present copy, a miraculous survival, is virtually as new in the dust jacket, showing only the faintest of toning to the spine of the book and the dust jacket. Enclosed in a cloth folding box.
Item #22331
Price: $40,000.00
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