The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.
With Forty-Three Illustrations, by R. Seymour and Phiz.
First edition in book form, without the two Buss illustrations but otherwise all plates in early states with page numbers as called for but no titles or imprints, and the vignette title-page with the signboard reading “Veller” (corrected to “Weller” in later issues). Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens’s first novel, transformed the obscure journalist into England’s most famous writer in a matter of months. The first monthly instalment was issued in an edition of 1,000 copies in April 1836. The book became a publishing sensation after the introduction of Sam Weller in chapter 10, the fourth instalment, issued in July 1836, after which the publishers reprinted the earlier instalments so that readers could catch up. For that reason, even in parts, copies are almost impossible to find in uniform first state. By the time the book was issued in November 1837, many textual corrections had been made. Booksellers often list numerous (and confusing) text points that might conceivably apply to a perfect set of Pickwick Papers as originally issued in parts, but all these points could never be found together in the issues in book form. The serial was originally intended to be primarily a vehicle for the cartoons of Robert Seymour, until he committed suicide after the first number was published. Robert William Buss then took over, but he was inexperienced in steel engraving and had to be replaced. The final choice, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), was to be Dickens’s chosen collaborator for the next two decades. For later issues Phiz illustrated parts IV–XX, re-engraved the Seymour plates and entirely replaced the Buss plates.
Octavo (215 130 mm). Contemporary dark red quarter roan in the French style, maroon cloth sides, titles within floriated panel to spine gilt, sawtooth roll to boards in blind, comb-marbled endpapers. Engraved frontispiece, vignette title-page and 41 similar plates by Hablot Knight Browne (signed as both “Phiz” and NEMO) and Robert Seymour. Bequest plate of Charles Potter Kling of Augusta, Maine to Bowdoin College Library to the front pastedown, with shelf-mark label; corresponding institutional blindstamp to the printed title-page and due-slip mounted to rear pastedown; laid-in manuscript note providing bibliographical information, dated 1891. Corners and first joint rubbed, mild cockling to endpapers and rear board, contents toned, surface splitting to inner hinge, a few faint spots to the frontispiece and vignette title-page, light browning and spotting to a few plates with occasional faint offsetting as often, plate facing p. 382 crudely shaved along fore edge to no loss of image. A very good copy.
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