Over One Hundred & Twenty-Five Valuable Recipes, for Saloons, Inn-Keepers, Grocers, Merchants, Druggists, and for Families Generally.
Of the most famous and ubiquitous American receipt books of the nineteenth century
Of Dr. J.P. Williams little is known but of Dr. A.W. Chase, i.e. Alvin Wood Chase (1817–1885) more can be said. What connects these two men appears to be this unrecorded 40-page pamphlet of food and household recipes.
It is believed that as early as 1856 Dr. A.W. Chase published the first iteration of A Guide to Wealth!: “Printed on half sheets of French letter paper, it comprised a pamphlet of sixteen pages containing seventeen medical and home recipes. It was sold by mail and the proceeds, presumably, helped support his family while he attended classes in the medical school of the University of Michigan and then enrolled for his M. D. degree in a sixteen-week course in the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati.”¹ This 1856 edition is known apparently, but it is not recorded in OCLC or in any bibliographies.
From this work, Chase would later make his fortune with one of the most famous and ubiquitous American receipt books of the nineteenth century. Titled A Guide to Wealth. Over One Hundred Valuable Recipes, for Saloons, Inn-Keepers, Grocers, Merchants, Druggists, and for Families Generally (1858) or Information for Everybody. An Invaluable Collection of over One Hundred and Fifty Practical Recipes, for Business and Professional Men, Mechanics, Artists, Farmers, and For families Generally (1859) or other similar titles, it continued to be reprinted with ever growing numbers of recipes—600 then 800 etc.—throughout the 19th century and even up to the 1930s. There even appear to be numerous facsimile reprints of various editions done in 1980s! “There were years when Chase’s books sold second only to the Bible.”²
We mention all of this as we have found an unrecorded, possibly unique, 1857 edition of an *almost* identically-titled work. This work claims to be the third edition, BUT it is not authored by Chase, nor is it published in Michigan. Instead, the imprint is for Urbana, Ohio and the author is a Dr. J.P. Williams, like Chase, a self-proclaimed druggist.
Williams’ pamphlet provides useful recipes and is divided into four sections: “Saloon and Inn-Keepers’ Department,” “Grocer’ [sic] and Merchant’s Department,” “Medical or Druggists’ Department,” and “Miscellaneous.”
Chase spent time in Ohio, as a medical student and perhaps peddling his recipes—and likely learning of fellow peddlers, like-minded individuals, etc. We tentatively speculate that Dr. J.P. Williams of Urbana, Ohio somehow got a hold of one of those mysterious pre-1858 Chase editions—that seem to be (at the moment) unrecorded in modern bibliography—“Revised & Enlarged” it (or not) and pirated Chase’s pamphlet and did not give him any credit.
An excellent bibliographical mystery waiting to be solved.
Description: Over One Hundred & Twenty-Five Valuable Recipes, for Saloons, Inn-Keepers, Grocers, Merchants, Druggists, and for Families Generally.
[Urbana, Ohio:] Citizen & Gazette Job Office, 1857. 40pp. Pamphlet. 5½ x 4 inches. Original printed wrappers; stitched. “Third Edition—Revised & Enlarged by Dr. J.P. Williams, Urbana, Ohio.” Wrappers intact and neatly separated; contents with moderate stains and soil; foxed, good.
Not in OCLC. Not in Cagle & Stafford. Not in Atwater Catalogue.
See Atwater 587 - “According to Chase, it was first published in 1856; the earliest copy recorded in NUC Pre-1956 imprints is an 1858 edition of 32 pages. By the end of 1858 a fifth edition was in print, increased in size to 42 pages.”] See Cagle & Stafford 140 - “The earliest edition located is the sixth, Ann Arbor, 1857” but does not list, nor cite location.
Note. 1. A Guide to Wealth! Over One Hundred & Twenty-Five Valuable Recipes… (The Friends of the Ann Arbor Public Library, n.d., c.1980s); [Facsimile reprint of “Fifth Edition, Revised and Enlarged…Published by A.W. Chase, M.D. of Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1858.” 50, pp. See p“51.”]. 2. Ibid., p“51.”