Boston & New York: Munroe and Francis; Charles S. Francis, 1827. First Edition. Hardcover. Duodecimo (4-3/4" x 7-1/2") bound in contemporary, possibly for the publisher, linen-backed marbled boards with an intact printed paper label spine; 180 pages. A rare example of the FIRST COMMERCIALLY PUBLISHED BOOK WRITTEN BY AN AFRICAN AMERICAN IN THE UNITED STATES and THE FIRST COOKBOOK WRITTEN BY AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN. A guide for house servants to help them to understand the rules of keeping a prominent white household, it includes recipes and advice to black servants on how to properly clean plates, what to wear, what time to arise for work, how to deal with drunk people, how to restore furniture, and how to take care of themselves. More household-management manual than cookbook, Roberts gives suggestions for employers on how to manage domestic help (very unusual for the time), but he was more interested in teaching young black men how to succeed in their work and ensure their advancement. Roberts begins the book: "In order to get through your work in proper time, you should make it your chief study to rise early in the morning; for an hour before the family rises is worth more to you than two after they are up." The author was a butler at the country estate of U.S. senator and governor of Massachusetts, Christopher Gore, a friend of Daniel Webster's. Owner name of Katherine Laurence dated 27 March 1827 on the front endpaper. Two leaves (pages 73-76) neatly detached and laid in; contents complete and very clean with occasional toning. Some fraying along the spine edge. An excellent example of a very scarce and important title. Item #018453
Blockson Collection, 9537 (1969 reprint); Longone Catalogue, page 2: "Although only two other editions of Roberts's book are recorded, some historians think that this work was seminal in producing men of singular ability as caterers, and managers -- rather than servants -- of large households"; Lowenstein, AMERICAN COOKERY BOOKS, 107; Weinstein, AGAINST THE TIDE 57: "Roberts also published the only substantial work by an abolitionist, black or white, to contain neither hint nor trace of race"; not in Work.