First edition, first printing of Irma S. Rombauer’s self-published cookbook, The Joy of Cooking.
Octavo, 395pp. Green pebbled cloth, title in gilt on front cover. Stated “Printed by A.C. Clayton Printing Co.” on copyright page, with no additional printings listed. Solid text block, light wear to corners, slight fraying of cloth along joints and bottom edge of spine. Internally bright and clean, with illustrations by Irma’s daughter, Marion. Lacking the original dust jacket. Housed in custom blue cloth clamshell, title in gilt on black label affixed to spine. (Bitting, p. 407) An exceptionally scarce work.
Irma S. Rombauer (1877-1962) wrote The Joy of Cooking as a way to earn a living and cope with the sudden loss of her husband, Edgar. Rombauer collected recipes from members of her hometown, St. Louis, and found a local printer to produce 3,000 copies. Their contract, signed with A.C. Clayton Printing, called for all first printings to be made with “washable cover fabrics… mailing cartons and individualized stickers.” (Mendelson 91) The Joy of Cooking remains in print today, with more than 18 million copies sold from updated editions continuously edited by Rombauer’s extended family.