May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 262

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(FOOD AND DRINK.) Roberts, Robert. The House Servant's Directory. 180 pages. 12mo, modern calf utilizing rear board and portion of original backstrip; minor foxing and minimal wear to contents. Boston, 1828

Additional Details

Second edition, following the first edition of 1827. Often credited as the first cookbook by an African American, the work goes well beyond cookery. It is a comprehensive guide to the management of an elite household--one of the few careers open to African Americans during this period. Sections are devoted to table service, "answering the bells," coal heat, and recipes for various cleaning agents. Pages 120-153 are devoted to cookery, marketing, and table service. The author Robert Roberts (circa 1780-1860) was born in South Carolina, probably into slavery, and came north to New England by 1805. He served as head butler to wealthy Bostonians, most notably former governor Christopher Gore, while becoming increasingly active in local politics and the abolition movement. After Gore's death in 1827, Roberts ended his career as a butler and worked as a stevedore until his own death in 1860. "Among the very first books written by an African American and issued by a commercial house, the book was certainly written with Gore's permission and perhaps with his financial support"--introduction to the 2016 edition of the House Servant's Directory, page xiii. Cagle, Food & Drink 647 (first edition); Lowenstein, American Cookery 110.