Rombauer.   Irma Starkloff     - The very rare first 'Family' edition
The Joy of Cooking
By Irma S. Rombauer. A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat - Illustrations. Marion Rombauer.
FIRST FAMILY EDITION. 1931. 8vo. 204 x 140 mm. 1fep. Title page. Verso Printed by A.C. Clayton Printing Company, St. Louis, MO. 1p Un-headed preface by Rombauer. [1] 1-2 General Rules. (1) Contents. [1] 24p Index. 1-395. Several handwritten recipes on last 7 blanks and the paste-down. Very slight age yellowing to pages but internally very clean. Original full blue pebbled cloth binding with gilt lettering on the front cover which is very slightly marked. Overall in very good condition. A nice copy of an extremely rare book. NB: The errata line on page 370, handwritten by Irma Rombauer for the missing first line at the top of the recipe for Orange Paste with Nuts. This is found in all other copies of the first Family edition.
- This edition is generally referred to as the 'First Family Edition' of 1931. Published by A.C. Clayton of St Louis (a company which had never published a book before but printed labels for fancy St Louis shoe companies and for Listerine). Irma Rombauer, fifty-four years old and recently widowed, (her husband committed suicide) and with the encouragement of her son, Edgar Jr., and her daughter, Marion, sunk half of her inheritance of $6000.oo into a self-published run of 3000 copies of the 1931 edition and gave them out to family, friends and acquaintances. Eventually all 3000 copies were given away or sold. The book was priced at $2.25 with Irma receiving $1.17. Encouraged by the response, Irma Rombauer, in 1936, published the first ‘trade edition’ of 'The Joy of Cooking' with Bobbs-Merrill Company - Indianapolis and New York and being sold for around $3.oo. This is a cookery book that imbibes the definitive American character trait of restless innovation and change. The first chapter after the large early index is titled Cocktails. There one finds unusual items such as a 'Clam Juice Cocktail' (a concoction of seasoned, bottled Clam Broth with Paprika, Horseradish and Tabasaco Sauce). 'Oyster Cocktail with Catsup' follows with 'Shrimp in Grapefruit' following later. The next chapter is Canapes and Sandwiches, with one recipe for 'Pastry Snails'. Irma prefaces this recipe by informing us that "If the approval of guests is to be taken as a criterion of excellence, this is the prize winning Canape". This also highlights another fine American trait; that of generosity. Bearing in mind the date this book was printed, those unusual recipes also sit with other good, well known, early American dishes. If one takes into account that the most recent 'Joy of Cooking' issue celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary edition, printed Oct. 31st 2006, and numbering a whopping 1,152 pages, proves the enduring affection in which this cookery book is held. If one takes into account the very good accurate recipes of later modern versions and the fact it is one of the longest, continuously printed cookery books, then it must be viewed undoubtedly, as one of the great domestic cookery classics.

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Modern category
ref number: 10936