We are pleased to be able to offer one of the treasures of book collecting: the limited edition of the first English-language translation of De re Coquinaria, the great compilation of Roman recipes assembled in the fourth or fifth century and ascribed—possibly mistakenly—to a first century devotee of luxurious living. From fig-fed pork, to recipes for ostrich or flamingo, to a pie filled with rose petals, this is one of the most extravagant cookbooks of all time.
It was not rendered into English until 1936, when Joseph Vehling, a book collector and culinary historian undertook the substantial effort, providing, along with the text, critical notes, illustrations, and a substantial bibliography.
Published in a significantly limited edition, it is a massive work, magnificently printed and bound on heavy, specially made paper stock. Although more recent scholarship has corrected some translating errors, the Vehling edition remains a monumental contribution to cookbook history, recognized in Vicaire, Bitting, and other major reference works.
This volume, No. 222 of 500, is quite wonderful to page through—for its heft, its luxurious materials and its exquisite typesetting, as well as for the accomplishment it represents. The copy is one of the better of all those we have seen described. The volume itself is in near-fine condition, with a good clean paper label on the spine and the three-piece original binding showing bright, unfaded colors. Unimportant crease on front free endpaper and small adhesive stain where a title card may have been attached; such a card does appear on the rear endpaper.
The jacket is in Very Good-plus condition, with a half-inch chip on the front and very small (less than 1/8”) paper loss at the head of the spine. There is some darkening to the spine, but it is uniform and not detrimental to the over-all appearance. An important and, obviously, a very scarce book.