Hartford: Sold by Ira Webster…; [Stereotyped by Richard H. Hobbs, 1848.
Octavo (19.5 x 12 cm.), xi, 12-236 pages. Frontispiece, plus folding, hand-colored plate. Illustrated with woodcuts in the text. Though styled “Eleventh Edition” on the title page, this is evidently the FIRST EDITION, likely 12th or 13th printing. Likely the second appearance with the color calendar (Lowenstein first indicates the color illustration in the “Twelfth Edition” of 1850). As such, this is the second issue of the earliest-known American cookbook to contain a color illustration. The author describes herself as “experienced in the vicissitudes of life and in housewifery; whom admonitory years now invite to a more retired and less active life, cheered by affectionate remembrances…” (from the title page). "Mrs. Webster was at best, what one would call a good plain cook, and yet she too reflects some of the virtues of her time", wrote Karen Hess, who stops to point out that up to Mrs. Webster, "most cookbook writers... measured dry ingredients by weight rather than volume." Mrs. Webster advises measuring rather than weighing, a serious step in the degradation of American cooking skills. This book is also one of the first to include a recipe for bread made with Sylvester Graham's flour, and Hess stops again to lament that "one of our earliest "health"-bread recipes is also one of the first to call for sweetening - a pattern that has only intensified since." One might wonder if the title term “Improved” is merited. Some light soiling to a few leaves. In publisher's gilt-titled and blind-stamped brown cloth, with light wear to the head and foot of the spine. Closed tear to one panel of folding calendar. Still, near very good. This issue scarce. [Cagle 796-800 (earlier editions); this issue not in Lowenstein (see item 482 for a later issue)].