The Hearthstone; or, Life at Home. A Household Manual...Together With A Complete Cookery Book
Beloit, Wis. The Inter-State Publishing House, 1884. Leather bound. Deluxe morocco binding, octavo size, 577 pp. Fine. Item #21072601
Laura Carter Holloway (1843 (some sources cite 1848)-1930) was a prolific author; upon publication of her first book in 1870, "The Ladies of the White House", she became independently wealthy. Her interests were varied, and included "theosophy, the Shakers, phrenology, the occult, vegetarianism and social reform." Through the vagaries of life, and after the death of her only son in 1914, she "entered a period of financial difficulties and depression. The last years of her life were marred by poverty and struggles over the manuscript of a book..." (n.b., info and quotes from the web site of the Brooklyn Library).
We find it interesting, from our perspective today, that a woman who was supporting herself as an author and with such interests as she, would write "The Hearthstone", seemingly focused on female domesticity. Upon reading the Preface, one realizes that her aim was to help provide a place of loving shelter for all those in need. Accordingly, she dedicates the book to "thousands of little children....to the lonely orphans....to the over-worked men and women, who are exiles to home blessings through poverty; to the aged ones who have outlived their kindred, and have no abiding place at any hearthstone..." (p. iii).
While this work can be thought of as an "etiquette book" (and certainly contains some of that) it covers many - indeed most - of the areas of life important to the middle-class woman of the Victorian age. Chapters include: "Home-Making and Home Management", "The Baby in the Home", "Up-Stairs, Down-Stairs, In My Lady's Chamber" (including "The servant question"), "Sports and Games for Ladies", "The Library in the Home", "Choice of Occupation", and many more. With eleven black-and-white illustrations (some full-page, others in-text) and six "house designs", as well as a "Cookery" section (comprised of approx. 170 pp.) which includes recipes for wine (Orange, Current, Elderberry, etc.) and an entire chapter on Coffee, it being "the most important thing for a breakfast".
A fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of middle-class, married women now almost 150 years ago. This the deluxe version; we have seen other copies bound in cloth but this, with the ornate gilt designs, is extremely striking. The first printing done in 1883, any copies of this book now scarce in the online marketplace; as of this writing we see only one other copy and a salesman's sample.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in full morocco over boards, the front and back boards both heavily decorated in gilt with various vignettes and designs with debossed "frames", the title in gilt on the front within a circular "frame", spine with gilt lettering and decorations, all edges gilt, coated green endpapers, tissue-guarded steel-engraved frontispiece one of the eleven illustrations, this titled "The Hearth Stone"; octavo size (8 3/4" by 6 7/8"), pagination: [i-ii] iii-xix [1, blank] 25-582 (note: we cannot explain the jump in pagination: we compared this copy to a digital copy of the 1883 printing which exhibits the same jump in pagination).
___CONDITION: Fine overall, the leather boards clean and without noticeable wear, the gilt bright and unrubbed on both boards, gently bumped corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is mostly clean and bright (with a few scattered smudges), and entirely free of prior owner markings; some light wear to the spine, else fine. Please note that we had a professional (name available upon request) strengthen the rear hinge and reinforce the tail cap, the binding now strong and sturdy.
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