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DICKENS, Charles.

Christmas Books.

London: Chapman and Hall, 1852 Stock Code: 135836
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First authorized collected edition, presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the inserted blank facing frontispiece, "Agnes Sarah Lawrence, from her affectionate friend Charles Dickens, Twenty Second November 1852". The recipient Agnes Sarah Lawrence (born c.1835, and a young lady at the time of this inscription) was the daughter of John Towers Lawrence of Balsall Heath, near Birmingham. Dickens corresponded with her father in February that year about bringing a group of amateur players to Birmingham. The following Christmas, Dickens returned to Birmingham to give a three-and-a-half-hour reading of A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth at the Birmingham Town Hall - the first of his famous readings.

Copies for presentation were evidently specially prepared with a heavy text leaf replacing the standard tissue guard. The Gimbel Collection, now at Yale, includes three presentation copies of this edition, each similarly inscribed on an inserted front blank and dated November 1852. Dickens's Christmas books were published here together for the first time, with a new preface by Dickens.

This copy was later in the library of the great collector Carrie Estelle Doheny (1875-1958) with her red morocco book label to the front pastedown. Doheny's library in Camarillo, California "represented one of the rarest book libraries in the United States. Within the collection, 4,000 volumes were rare books and first editions. Fifteen hundred of the volumes were comprised of autograph letters and important historical and literary manuscripts. Early vellum manuscripts such as bibles, gospels, commentaries, liturgical works, and ornamented books revealed the prominence of the collection" (Cheung, Encyclopedia of Women in the American West, p. 97).

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Octavo (180 x 118 mm). Contemporary reddish-brown calf, titles in gilt to green calf label to spine, spine elaborately blocked in gilt, frames to covers in gilt and blind, board edges rolled in gilt, book block edges gilt, marbled endpapers, green silk bookmark. Housed in a custom red cloth chemise and red morocco-backed slipcase.


Engraved frontispiece by John Leech, text in double columns.


Spine professionally refurbished, repair to front joint. Auction cataloguing tipped in at front. Crease to gutter of frontispiece. Slight rubbing to extremities, boards a little marked and scuffed; a very good copy, internally bright.


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