Nicolas Appert (1750-1841) was a French chef, distiller, and “the Father of Canning.” As the story goes, in 1795, the French military offered a 12,000 francs cash prize to whoever could invent the best way to conserve and transport food. For 14 years, Appert experimented with various methods before successfully sealing glass jars with cork, wax, and wire, by submerging them in boiling water. Appert won the 12,000 francs in 1810. He used the money to open the House of Appert, a commercial cannery at Massy that operated from 1812 to 1933. As the prizewinner, Appert was required to publish his preserving methods. L’Art de conserver, pendant plusieurs années, toutes les substances animales et végétales (The Art of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances for Several Years) was first printed in 1810 and thereafter was quickly translated into several languages.
Chef Louis Szathmary collected several copies of Appert’s Art of Preserving. Our French copy is a second edition printed in 1813, the English version from 1812, and the German from 1811. I arranged the photos in groups of three with the French at the top, English bottom left, and German bottom right. All three books are wonderful examples of national printing and binding styles. A close look at the recipe for preserving “pêches“ or “peaches” or “Pfirsiche“ shows us that Appert’s French descriptors for peach varieties are maintained across translations. The final image is Appert’s signature at the end of his note to the reader in the second edition.