Delightes for ladies, to adorne their persons, tables, closets, and distillatories;

London, Printed by H. L[ownes] and R. Y[oung] and are to bee sold by Iames Boler, 1628


12mo. 96 unnumbered leaves. A-H12, (last blank but for border). Roman letter, titles in Italic. Text within decorative four part woodcut borders, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, borders on outer margin very fractionally trimmed on a few leaves. A good copy, unusually crisp and clean, in antique-style red morocco, covers bordered with single gilt rule, spine with gilt raised bands, vase tools gilt at centers, green morocco label gilt, combed marble end-papers, all edges gilt.

A very good copy of this very charming, exceptionally rare and important book of recipes of sweets, candies, preserves, (sweet and savory), alcoholic beverages, perfumes, cosmetics and personal decoration, a most successful book in its day; some of the recipes have survived to be in relatively common use 400 years later, in particular the various mixed alcoholic beverages. “Sir Hugh Platt wrote perhaps the most charming and well-written sweets recipe book of all, dedicated to the ladies of leisure who were his target readership. The art of preserving and candying fruit had by this time become a ladylike diversion as well as a professional business — due to the high price of imported sugar, sweets were still an expensive luxury enjoyed only by a few. Among Sir Hugh’s recipes is a way of candying rose petals on the bush by pouring syrup over them and letting them dry in the sun. His dedicatory poem,… is a useful inventory of sweets in favour in the 16th and early 17th century, including sucket (candied lemon and orange peel) and marchpanes: a type of hard marzipan modelled into diverse shapes for the table, and not always edible.” British library.

‘Delightes for Ladies’ was one of several works which Plat published in the genre of how-to books, or books of secrets. It was one of the earliest, if not the first, cookery and household recipe book. Plat divides the work into three parts “the arte of preseruing”, “secrets in distillation” and “cookerie and huswiferie”. His interest in the subject was in part derived from his interest in preserving food for the navy and dwells at some length on keeping meat in brine at sea and includes a recipe for keeping orange & lemon juice for a year. The second section on Distillation starts with a recipe called “How to make true spirit of wine.”. Most of the rest of the recipes in this section, though, are how to make things like rose-water, or how to distill thyme lavender and rosemary for perfumes or ‘waters’. The book also is partly derived from the tradition of ‘Books of Secrets’ and contains recipes such as “to take away the freckles in the face: Wash your face in the wane of the moone with a spunge, morninge and euening with the distilled water of Elder Leaues, letting the same drie into the skinne. Your water must be distilled in Maie. This is of a Trauailer, who hath cured himself therby.”. Read and used to pieces this work has survived in very few copies and is very rare.“The reader is left in no sort of doubt about what went on in the Elizabethan kitchen, and few could put the book down without some regret for the passing of those most leisurely days. … It is not surprising that some of these have survived in single copies only, and some have probably disappeared altogether … Most surviving copies are pretty grubby and often incomplete.” Bent Juel-Jensen, ‘Some Uncollected Authors XIX, The Book Collector”.

STC 19983.7 (Recording only 3 other copies B.L., Lincoln Cathedral and Folger). Bitting 373. Vicaire under ‘Closet’ 183. “One of the early practical guides to include beauty hints and cosmetic recipes” Hull, ‘Chaste, Silent and Obedient.’ pp. 43, 194. Ferguson V p. 43. Cagle 930. Not in Oberle.


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