DICKENS, Charles.

Great Expectations.

London: Chapman and Hall, 1861 Stock Code: 142552

True first impression, with all the numerous points

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First edition, first impression, published on 6 July 1861, one of 1,000 copies thus. The first impression of Great Expectations is a famously rare book. Robert L. Patten, Charles Dickens and His Publishers (Clarendon 1978) states that 1,000 copies of the first impression and 750 of the second were printed and that probably most of the first and more than half of the second (1,400 copies in all) were purchased by Mudie's Select Library where, as circulating library copies, they inevitably suffered a high rate of attrition.

The first edition was divided into five impressions, with distinct title pages labelling them as five editions. The modern bibliographical authority is generally agreed to be the table given in Appendix D to the Clarendon edition, 1993, in which Margaret Cardwell agrees with the traditional conclusion that the same setting of type was used for all five impressions: "there is no warrant for treating the five impressions as distinct editions" (p. 491). However, she deduces that the impressions were sequential and that minor corrections and gradual deterioration of type can be shown across the five impressions. This copy has Cardwell's points for the first impression throughout.

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3 volumes, octavo (189 x 115 mm). Contemporary half calf, marbled paper sides, titles and floral decorations to spine compartments in gilt, chainlinks blindstamped to covers, orange endpapers, edges speckled red.


Extremities a trifle rubbed, boards slightly scuffed, occasional spot of foxing, mainly to first and final leaves, else clean and without ownership marks. A lovely set in an attractive contemporary binding.


Smith I.14.


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