The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844
8vo (212 x 128mm.), FIRST BOOK EDITION, SIGNED BY DICKENS ON FRONT ENDPAPER FOR SPENCER HALL, THE ATHENAEUM LIBRARIAN ("Charles Dickens | Fourth May 1848"), frontispiece, vignette title and 38 other illustrations by H.K. Browne ("Phiz"), vignette title with "£100" on signpost, first figure "1" blurred and six studs in the trunk (Smith's state 2, no priority), 14-line errata on p.xv as usual (Smith's second setting), nineteenth-century half calf, brown cloth boards, marbled endpapers and edges, preserved in quarter brown morocco folding box, rebacked preserving most of spine, hinges strengthened, worn on spine and at edges, covers slightly stained, some plates slightly spotted, occasional foxing
AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE AND QUITE POSSIBLY UNIQUE COPY OF "MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT" SIGNED AND DATED BY DICKENS.
Loosely inserted is a letter by William Hall's widow Lydia (12 Clifton Terrace, Margate, 22nd November 1893), to Mr. Edward Strand, sending this signed copy ("...As my nephew is away just now and I know he is more than busy I send the book not to cause longer delay in fulfilling a promise that you should have it..."). The expert bibliographer Spencer Hall (1805–1875) was younger brother of Dickens' publisher William Hall (of Chapman & Hall) and was librarian of the the Athenaeum Club in from 1833 onwards (shortly after its move to its new house in Pall Mall), reorganising the library and making it one of the best collections of reference books in London. Well-known to Dickens Hall proposed the young novelist for membership in 1838, and Dickens was duly elected on 21 June that year under the Club's rule 1, allowing entry for men of significant literary or scientific attainment. Charles Darwin was elected at the same time. Dickens was writing letters from the Athenaeum on 4th May 1848 (e.g. see The Letters, Pilgrim Edition, vol. 5, p.296, letter to Rev. James White) and it therefore seems likely he signed this copy fo Hall whilst at the club.
After attending William Hall's funeral at Highgate cemetery "to pay that last mark of respect" Dickens wrote to H.K. Browne that Hall "had a good little wife, if ever a man had ... accounts of her tending of him at the last, are deeply affecting" (The Letters, vol.5, p.36). Lydia Hall's nephew was Thomas Andrews, an architect and surveyor in Margate, with whom she shared the house at Clifton Terrace in later years. Thomas would have inherited this signed and dated copy from his uncle, who it seems died childless.
By the time Chuzzlewit was published on 16 July 1844 Dickens had moved his family to Genoa for a year, and the author therefore seems not to have inscribed any copies around the time of publication. The dedicatee Angela Burdett-Coutt's copy, for instance, was bound by Hayday for presentation, but was not inscribed by the author. Celebrated Dickens collectors such as Suzannet, Starling and Self were not able to acquire the novel in any signed or inscribed form. WE ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY OTHER SIGNED OR INSCRIBED PRESENTATION COPY.
Smith I: 7; Eckel, pp. 71-73
Spencer Hall, inscribed for him by Dickens; [inherited by:] the architect Thomas Andrews
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.