The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman and Hall, April 1836 - November 1837
8vo (224 x 140mm.), FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL 19/20 PARTS, EARLY ISSUES, half-title, engraved and printed titles, 2pp. dedication, 4pp. preface, errata leaf, 4pp. contents, 42 engraved plates including frontispiece, by R. Seymour, R.W. Buss and Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"], original green printed wrappers, collector's green cloth folding case, spine lettered in gilt, a few plates with slight offsetting, a few corners of text pages lightly creased, a few wrappers with some slight browning or ink marks, 3 parts with neat repairs to edges of wrappers, most with backstrips neatly restored, remainder slightly chipped
FIRST EDITION IN PARTS OF THE AUTHOR'S FIRST NOVEL. "The appearance of a fresh number of Pickwick soon became news, an event, something much more than literature. 'Boz has got the town by the ear', a critic said, and he spoke the truth. Each number sold for a shilling and they were passed from hand to hand, and butchers' boys were seen reading them in the streets. Judges and politicians, the middle classes and the rich, bought them, read them and applauded; and the ordinary people saw that he was on their side, and they loved him for it..." (Tomalin, pp.67-68)
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was initially conceived of as a series of comic sketches written to accompany monthly sporting plates by Robert Seymour. Dickens had had the idea of a comic character, Mr Pickwick, a rich retired businessman with a taste for good food and drink, an innocent and playful character, well described later by W.H. Auden as "a pagan god wandering through the world imperviously". For the first month the work met with little success, but then, following the suicide of the illustrator Seymour, Dickens took over the project, altered the concept and introduced the character of Sam Weller, Pickwick's cockney servant, in Part 4 - to immediate public approval. Searching for a replacement illustrator, Dickens commissioned the young "Phiz" who worked on the remainder of the work and became his most sympathetic and consistent of illustrators. From this moment on sales of the monthly numbers rose steadily and then spectacularly, the names and characters in Dickens' novel becoming common currency, and the enormous public success of the novel accompanied by great critical acclaim.
Only about 400 sets of Part 1 were issued on the day of publication from a print-run of 1000, with subsequently only 500 sets of part 2 being printed. Both eventually sold out, necessitating reprints of both parts before publication of Part 3. Hence a perfect Part 2 becomes the keystone. The text to Parts 1 - 8 was reprinted many times at very early dates leading to textual variations; with reprinting, older plates had to be re-etched; with the incease in popularity advertisements changed, were cancelled and added - all leading to a complex series of issue points for text, plates and advertisements.
The points in this copy are as listed below:
Parts 1 and 2 later issues; Part 3 early issue, p.53; Part 4 first issue, pp.91, 93, 96, 103, 112; Part 5 first issue, pp. 121, 133; Part 6 early issue, pp. 148, 154, 157, later p. 161; Part 7 first issue, pp. 194, 202; Part 8 first issue, pp. 225, 233; Part 9 first issue, pp. 260, 261, 267; Part 10 first issue, pp. 296, 301; Part 12 first issue, pp.341, 342; Part 13, first issue, pp. 389, 397, 400; Part 14 first issue, p. 432
Part 1, all 4 first state second plate; Part 2, first state plates; Part 3, 2 early state 'suppressed' plates by Buss signed and paginated; Part 4, second state of the original plates; Part 5, first state; Part 6, later issues, plate 14 with the birdcage but corrrectly paginated, plate 15 with the bell on door but correctly paginated; Part 7, first state; Part 8, first state; Part 9, first state, with tissue guards; Part 10, first state; Part 11, first state, with tissue guards; Part 12, first plates, first states; Part 13, first state; Part 14, first state. with tissue guards; Part 15 first state; Part 16, first state, with tissue guards; Part 17, plate  first state, with tissue guard, plate  mixed state, bundle is corded but signature in small letters; Part 18, first state, with tissue guards; Part 19/20, first states, tissue guards
Parts 1, 3, 4 without advertisements; Part 5, 4pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, without back advertisements; Part 6, 8pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, unopened; Part 7, 8pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, without leaf at back; Part 8, without advertisements; Part 9, 10 (of 12)pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, at back 12 (of16)pp. advertisements, without 4pp. Effingham Wilson; Part 10, 16pp. The Pickwick Advertiser but with variant p.10, 4pp. advertisments at back; Part 11, 8pp. The Pickwick Advertiser; Part 12. 8pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, at back 22pp. Mechi catalogue; Part 13, 16pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, uncut, unopened, without 4pp. Pigot; at back 6pp. advertisements; Part 14, 24pp. The Pickwick Advertiser; at back 8pp. advertisements; Part 15, 16pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, at back 24pp. advertisements; Part 16, 12pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, duplicate p. , with additional leaf Saunders' Portraits June 7; Part 17, 8pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, at back 22pp. advertisements; Part 18, 16pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, at back 14pp. advertisements; Part 19/20, 24pp. The Pickwick Advertiser, early issue with with date 1838 on p. 7, at back 24pp. advertisements, 3rd state, 'The New Tea Warehouse'
without Author's address, Parts 2 and 3; with Author's Address, Parts 10 and 15; with Publisher's Address Parts 17, 18, 19/20
Wrappers dated 1836; wrappers for Parts 1 - 3 later issues, without name of illustrator on upper cover, with later advertisements; first issue wrappers Parts 4 - 7, 9 - 19/20; second issue wrappers Part 8 with later advertisements
Eckel pp. 17-578; Hatton and Cleaver pp. 3-88;
James F. Drake, bookseller's slip
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
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