PLATT, Sir Hugh


PLATT, Sir Hugh Delightes for Ladies, to adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets and Distillatories. With Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes and Waters..

London, Printed by H[umphrey] L[ownes], 1615


12mo. 96 unnumbered leaves. A-H12. (last blank but for border). Roman letter, titles in Italic. Title with small woodcut decorations, text within decorative four part woodcut borders, typographical ornaments, Bradford library stamp to outer margin of title and 4 other leaves. Light age yellowing, blank upper outer corner of A8 repaired, small sections of lower outer corners of B5, C6 and G4 torn with slight loss of border, a few leaves cut close, just touching borders. A very good copy in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, spine with raised bands, sympathetically rebacked, all edges gilt and gauffered.

A very good copy of this very charming, exceptionally rare and important book of recipes of sweets, candies, preserves, 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.”. Despite is contemporary popularity this work has survived in very few copies and is very rare; this is the only copy of this edition recorded at auction. “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 (Recording only 3 other copies B.L., Huntington and Juel-Jensen, imperfect). 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. Not in Oberle.
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