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The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.
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DICKENS, Charles.

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.

With Forty-Three Illustrations, by R. Seymour and Phiz.

Published: London: Chapman and Hall, 1837

Stock code: 50118

Price: £850

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First edition, early issue. The plates are in early states, with page locations and without titles or imprints, but the earliest Buss and Seymour plates have been replaced by those of Phiz. The sign on the engraved title states “Weller” rather than “Veller”. 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 (209 132 mm). Contemporary tan calf, spine gilt in compartments, ruling and turn-ins gilt, marbled endpapers and edges. Engraved frontispiece and half-title and 41 plates. Bookplate. Slight spotting and toning to some plates, boards lightly rubbed, spine faded. A very good copy.

Bibliography: Miller & Strange.

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