Lo scalco prattico.

Rome, Francesco Corbelletti, 1627.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. (8), 300. Roman letter, a little Italic; dedicatee’s arms engraved on title, decorated initials, typographical head- and tail-pieces; lightly foxed, some leaves aged browned, tiny marginal wormholes at foot of gathering P and Q, old repairs to blank lower outer corner of title. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, original endpapers; a little stained and rubbed, two small cracks to spine; reader’s or bookseller’s annotation by nearly contemporary Italian hand ‘È da vedere’ (‘To be read/collated’).

Rare first edition of a masterpiece of Italian cuisine in early modern times. Born in Camerino, Vittorio Lancellotti was a respected butler in the service of Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, nephew of Pope Clement VIII and dedicatee of this book, and other high-ranking prelates of the Roman Curia, including Ippolito’s uncle Pietro Aldobrandini and Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In the Scalco prattico, Lancellotti described the numerous lavish banquets he supervised at either family or state occasions, with detailed recipes and reports of the service. These celebratory meals usually consist of no less than six round of multiple courses, with cold and hot fresh dishes (including ‘Pasticci all’Inglese’) and stored sweets and savouries.

The book is divided monthly, dispensing advice for seasonal culinary preparations. Particularly rich and impressive was the party organised in 1622 for the wedding of Prince Aldobrandini and Ippolita Ludovisi, niece of the reigning pope Gregory XIV. After a never-ending first round of dishes (out of twelve), the couple was presented with a magnificent statue of marzipan representing Atlas shouldering the Earth with their coat of arms nestled in it.

‘Ce livre fait connaitre le luxe culinaire des prèlats romains au commencement du XVII siècle …’ Brunet, III, 808.

‘Il più originale trattato di scalcheria tra quelli dei numerosi scalchi che in questo secolo operano presso le corti cardinalizie romane.’ C. Benporat, Storia della gastronomia italiana, Milan 1990, p. 195.

Very rare. No recorded copies in the US.

Not in Bitting. BM STC It. 17th, 465; Nataker, 912; Oberlé, 530; Paleari Henssler, 412; Simon, 941; Vicaire, 490-491; Westbury, 127; Drexel, 236.


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LEMNIUS, Levin (translated by J. Gohory)

Les Occultes Merveilles et Secretz de Nature, avec plusieurs enseignemens des choses divers.

Paris, Gailiot du Pré, 1574.


8vo., ff. (i) 212 (xx). Roman letter, side notes and quotations in Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, contemporary autograph “Grisson” beneath. Woodcut initials and decorations. Occasional contemporary marginal annotations. Light paper yellowing. Very good copy in contemporary vellum, 19C book plates on paste down.

Lemnius (1505-1568) studied medicine at Louvain under Dodoens, Gessner, and Vesalius and practised for over forty years in his home town of Zelande with great success. This work, translated by Jacques Gohory, was designed as much for the amusement of the reader as for his education, and contains a mass of information, partly real, partly fantastic, taken from ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arab, and Latin sources, and presented and commented on in rather haphazard fashion. “Bits of medical and natural lore are thrown together hit-or-miss,” but not without importance “since it was often cited by subsequent learned authors, and since the numerous editions and translations of it show that it was well suited to the tastes of the time.” (Thorndike).

Despite his interest in the occult and belief in the importance of the influence that the stars and moon exert on the person, Lemnius remained pragmatic, always insisting on the importance of treating the patient with what remedies were available rather than relying on astronomy. Of the many diverse and interesting subjects the book deals with, such as the effects of human saliva, or whether it is better to sleep with one’s mouth open or closed, one most referred to is the subject of vines, wine and drunks. White wine should be drunk before red, vinegar is useful in times of plague, the wines of the Poitou make you quarrelsome whereas the wines of the Rhine make you amorous, and when inebriated, you must not sleep in the moon rays. Translations of books dealing with the occult sciences are rare (an English translation of this work did not appear until 1650).

BM STC Fr. 16C p.262. Brunet III 972. Graesse IV 159. Not in Adams. French edition not in Cantamessa. Not in Honeyman. Thorndike V 393/4. Simon II 403.


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PLATT, Sir Hugh


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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Deipnosophistae (with) Dipnosophistarum sive Coenae sapientum libri XV.

Venice, Aldus Manutius and Andrea Torresani (with) Andreas Arrivabenus, 1514 (with) 1556.


FIRST EDITIONS, folio, pp. [xxxx] 192 [i]; [vi] 288 [xii]. First: Greek letter, title text in the shape of a martini glass, Aldine dolphin and anchor device on t-p and verso of last, some oil spots. Light waterstain to head of first couple of gatherings and to lower outer corner of last, 2 ll somewhat oxydised, else clean and good. Second: Italic letter, double column. Woodcut to t-p of Rebecca with Jesus at the well, floriated initials. Insignificant waterstain to blank upper outer corner of a few quires, a few ll slightly oxydised. A very good copy in C17 mottled sheep, upper joint cracked at head. Spine gilt in compartments, natural morocco lettering piece, edges speckled red. Illegible C17 ownership inscription to pastedown.

Probably the only copy combining the Editio Princeps with the first Latin edition. Written in Rome in the early 2nd century, the work provides a unique insight into the moneyed classes during the Hellenistic literary world of the Roman Empire. “A vast variety of erudition has been preserved by Athenaeus of Naucratis, who lived at Rome under Commodus and his successors. His comprehensive work ‘Doctors at Dinner’ originally consisted of thirty books. It was abridged into fifteen, and it is this abridgement that has survived in an incomplete form in a single ms. The scene is laid at the house of the Roman pontiff Larentius, and all kinds of accomplishments – grammar, poetry, rhetoric, music, philosophy and medicine – are represented among the many interlocutors. It is an encyclopaedia under the disguise of a dialogue. Food and drink, cups and cookery, stories of famous banquets, scandalous anecdotes, specimens of ancient riddles and drinking songs and disquisitons on instruments of music are only part of the miscellaneous fare which is here provided. We are indebted to the quotations in Athenaeus for our knowledge of passages from about 700 ancient writers who would otherwise be unknown to us, and, in particular, for the preservation of the greater part of the extant remains of the Middle and the New Attic comedy.” Sandys I:337. An important source of Classical Greek recipes, including the original text of the oldest recipe by a named author, Mithaecus, in any language, it also describes in detail different kinds of wine, categorizing them by place and origin and compares their characteristics, properties and effects. Sexual mores constitute another conversational focus, with pederasty discussed without restraint, including details of boy-lovers famed for their beauty and skill. In addition come insights into music, literary gossip and philology, as well as the stories behind the creation of many artworks and amusing stories. An invaluable resource for social historians.

Originating from Naucratis in Egypt, Athenaeus was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, who flourished at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd C. Deipnosophistae is his only extant work, though he mentions other works on the history of the Syrian kings and on fish.

i. Renouard 67:4 “fort rare”. BM STC It. 60. Adams A-2096. Hoffman I 394. Vicaire 50: “elle est magnifiquement exécutée”. Simon 58: “Dans le Premier Livre, il est traité des festins des Anciens, des mets, des boissons, des vêtemenets, danses, etc. Les façons de boire et les différents vins sont déscrits en détail: vin d’Italie, de Chios et Lesbos, d’Egypte, etc. Le Livre Second débute par une description détaillée de l’origine, de la nature, des propriétés et des principaux effets du vin”. Brunet I 535: ‘rare et assez recherchée’. Dibdin I 331. Graesse I 244. Bitting 18. This ed not in Oberlé.
ii. BM STC It. 60. Adams A-2098. Hoffmann I 397. Vicaire 50. Bitting 18. Oberlé 8,9,10: “Sa compliation est d’autant plus précieuse que la plupart des ouvrages qu’il cite sont perdus. C’est une encyclopédie de l’Antiquité, riche, variée, éblouissante.”


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RONDELET, Guillaume

Libri de Piscibus Marinis

Lyon, apud Matthiam Bonhomme, 1554.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. [xvi] 583 [xxv] Roman and Italic letter, historiated woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces, t.p. with printer’s device of Perseus with the head of Medusa within architectural border, woodcut portrait of the author on verso of a8, 248 woodcut illustrations of fish and other sea creatures after the designs of Georges Reverdi. Light age yellowing, waterstaining to first and last few gatherings, single wormhole throughout at inner margin of book occasionally just touching text, wormtrail to upper margin of a few gatherings, very neatly restored. Near contemporary ms ex libris autography of “Jo[hann]is Dominici De San[?]y eq[itis] [aur]ati Cas Sti Andrea”, C19 Nordkirchen bookplate of the Dukes of Arenberg on inside cover, remains of ms vellum stubbs. A clean and well margined copy in contemporary calf over thick wooden boards, richly blind-rolled in ornate, deeply cut panels with corner pieces, a central diamond and blind stamp depiction of the three crosses at Golgotha, rolls in a floral motif with unnamed portrait medallions, spine triple-ruled in five compartments with raised bands, each stamped with ornaments, slight tearing at upper and lower joints, defective at head and tail, lacking clasps.

FIRST EDITION of Rondelet’s seminal work on all aquatic animals the most important published up to that time. The first four books are a general discussion about fish with comparative anatomy and specific treatment of anatomical anomalies such as gills, tentacles, stingers, etc. Through an experiment he argues that fish must take in some type of air from the water into their gills: he proves this by keeping a bowl sealed tight which causes the fish inside to suffocate. The rest of the book comprises of around 300 descriptions, the majority illustrated, of marine life, listing the names of each in local languages, its living and feeding habits, anatomical features, and for those fish he could observe and dissect personally, even more information on nutrition, reproduction, and natural habitats. An encyclopedia of sealife would be remiss if it were to by pass a good meal, but luckily Rondelet includes cooking tips and recipes for fish-based meals throughout the entries. For instance, Bream, a small freshwater fish, is good “‘boiled in water and wine as is done in France’, but it is equally good in a variety of other ways. It can be grilled after placing fennel and rosemary in its belly; it can be roasted or served cold; or can even be baked in a crust, [etc.].’ […] Not only has Rondelet given us a series of potential recipes for this fish but he has also revealed some regional culinary preferences.” (Fitzpatrick cit. infr.)

Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566) studied medicine at Montpellier, but “although he was active in several branches of biology, Rondelet’s reputation effectively depends on his massive compendium on aquatic life, which covered far more species than any earlier work in that field. Despite its theoretical limitation, it laid the foundations for later ichthyological research and was the standard reference work for over a century.[…]In his own day Rondelet was almost as well known as an anatomist as a zoologist. A popular lecturer, Rondelet attracted scholars from all over Europe: Coiter and Bauhin; L’Écluse; L’Obel, who inherited his botanical manuscripts; and Daleschamps. Gesner and Aldrovandi also studied briefly under him.” (DSB cit. infr.)

Adams R-746. Baudrier X 239. DSB XI 527-528. Garrison-Morton 282. Osler 3821. Nissen I 3474. Joan Fitzpatrick, Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare  , 33.


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Closet for Ladies and Gentlevvomen. Or, The Art of preserving, conserving, and candying.

London, Printed by John Hauiland, 1627.


12mo. 96 unnumbered leaves. A-H12. Roman letter, titles in Italic. Title and text within woodcut border, woodcut floriated initials and typographical headpieces. Light age yellowing, quire D lightly browned, woodcut borders at outer margin very fractionally trimmed on a few leaves, title slightly dusty, the odd thumb mark. A good, clean copy, 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.

An unusually well preserved copy of this extremely rare and delightful volume. The first part concentrates on ‘the art of preserving, conserving, and candying’ with additional recipes for syrups and banqueting dishes. The second deals with the medicines and salves needed for a household of the period. Even now the author remains anonymous, not even a set of initials appears in any of the editions, there is no introduction, epistle, dedication or acknowledgement. It is possible the manuscript of ‘A Closet’ was written by a literate woman, intended for her household and personal use. The work was entered into the Stationer’s records in 1602, so it appears that the Elizabethan manuscript may have been acquired and then remained in the printer’s office for years prior to publication. It is possible that a first work on general cookery was intended to precede it, which might explain why the work jumps straight into the recipes with no prefatory material.

The work describes the domestic arts of candies and preserves that well-off ladies, gentlewomen, and housewives of the gentry might be expected to be skilled in during the late-16th until the mid-17th century and does not deal with the day-to-day cookery of a household. It provides the recipes for making those very special banqueting sweets of sugar, pastes, and waters which were thought to be necessary for special occasions and as suitable gifts as well as cosmetics eg for the preservation of a white complexion. Many bibliographies have attributed the ‘Closet’ to Sir Hugh Platt. as the anonymous ‘Closet’ were sometimes bound with Plat’s Delightes, but there seems little reason to suppose Plat wrote the Closet and allowed it to be sold anonymously and not take credit.

The second section is substantial, giving a variety of remedies for medical conditions, diseases, acquired ills like worms and pests, and accidental conditions like broken bones. It also clearly represents another manuscript, probably from a different household. These medical recipes for dealing with burns, piles, worms, collick, sores, toothache, “for the pestilence,” laxatives, menstrual problems, falling sickness, and mad dogges are written in a different style but do contain a few recipes for cookery and perfumes. These include a recipe for making fresh cheese, for the dessert known as snow, and an amusing recipe for King Henry VIII’s perfume. ‘The Closet’ represents perhaps hundreds of similar manuscripts that were once kept and prized by English households which have largely been lost. A good copy of a fascinating and rare work providing much insight into the history of food, drink and cosmetics.

STC, 5436.7 (Recording only 4 other copies B.L., Leeds, Lincoln Cathedral and Folger) Vicaire 183 “Rare et Curieux”. (1618 edition). Bitting (under Plat) 373. Hull, ‘Chaste, Silent and Obedient.’ pp. 39, 40 & 159. Ferguson V p. 44. Not in Oberlé.


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