[DICKENS, Charles]. Sketches by Boz. Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-Day People... New edition, Complete. London: Chapman and Hall, [November 1 1837] -1839.
20 monthly parts, 8o (222 x 140 mm). 40 plates by George Cruikshank (loose in numbers 2, 3 and 6, some margins browned as usual). (Lightly browned.) Original pink illustrated wrappers, uncut and LARGELY UNOPENED (a few minimal repairs to some backstrips, light dustsoiling particularly to numbers 1 and 20, some extremities minimally creased and chipped, stitching to numbers 2 and 3 broken); full purple morocco gilt folding box.
Provenance: Henry William Bruton, Cruikshank's executor and pre-eminent collector of his works (autograph note signed, loosely inserted); Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 6 for £920); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, IN PARTS, THE SUPERB BRUTON-SUZANNET SET, of a notoriously fragile work. From the library of Cruikshank's executor H.W. Bruton with the first issue of all the plates (each with Chapman & Hall imprints), p. 515 in part 20 paginated top center, "reeledbefore" on p. 526. Advertisements conform to Hatton & Cleaver, including the "Address" in No.2 and the "Proclamation" in No.5, and with an extra insert for "Cumberland's British and Minor Theatre" at the front of No.3. Numbers 9-11 partially unopened and numbers 12-19 unopened.
Including "The Tuggs's at Ramsgate" not included in the volume issue. "The 'make-up' of Sketches by Boz as a periodical work, bears no relation to that of its immediate predecessor, or indeed to that of any other work which followed. It was a bold experiment, but a badly designed structure. Being a re-issue of a previously published series of articles, it had but little originality of subject matter; the familiar 'green leaves' known even then in almost every household, were discarded, and substituted by an experimental pink cover. The text was very much curtailed... Its reception by advertisers is apparent by the paucity of advertisement material, and the minimum of trade insets which found a place within the covers" (Hatton & Cleaver pp. 91 - 128).
An important group of material relating to the proposed publication by John Macrone of the parts issue:
CRUIKSHANK, George (1792-1878). AN ENGRAVED PROOF PREPARED FOR THE FRONT WRAPPER OF NO.I. OF MACRONE'S PROSPOSED EDITION OF THE PARTS ISSUE OF SKETCHES BY BOZ, after a design by George Cruikshank, engraved and signed by L Schönberg. London: J. Macrone. . Plate size (220 x 148 mm), sheet size (260 x 195 mm). (One small marginal repair, central horizontal crease); loose in a green silk envelope.
In most respects the image is very similar to the one finally used for the front wrappers of the parts issue of Sketches published by Chapman and Hall and includes "No. I." and "Price Is" above the image. Cruikshank has added a faint penciled cloudy outline to the top portion of the image, an alteration which widens the design by a centimeter or so, and which was adopted by Chapman & Hall for the published wrappers (a trial printing of which is also included here).
Dickens's relationship with his first publisher was already an uneasy one when Dickens learnt that Macrone intended to publish the Sketches in monthly parts "got up in green covers exactly imitative of Pickwick. Already irritated at hearing that Macrone was 'making thousands' from the copyright he had hastily sold [to Macrone earlier], he felt that three simultaneous publications 'must prove seriously prejudicial to my reputation,' and might even damage the sale of Pickwick" (Johnson). Dickens's friend, and from this point forward business advisor, John Forster intervened in the dispute and arranged for Chapman and Hall to advance the money to purchase the copyright from Macrone who received £2,250. Despite receiving such a large sum when Macrone died suddenly only a few months later he left his widow and children destitute.
A second proof of Cruikshank's design created for Macrone is located in the British Library: "a proof impression on India paper, of the earliest printed front wrapper to Sketches by Boz. It varies in every detail from the published wrappers issued eventually by Chapman & Hall, and which was engraved by J. Jackson, who also engraved the cover to Pickwick Papers. The woodblock was cut by, and is signed, 'L. Schönberg, Hatton Garden,' and is without any 'Part No.' or 'Price.'" (Hatton & Cleaver pp. 105 - 106).
MACRONE, John (1809-1837). Autograph letter signed ("Macrone"), to GEORGE CRUIKSHANK WHO HAS ADDED A PENCIL SKETCH SELF-PORTRAIT AND A NUMBER OF SMALL CARICATURES, Tuesday [6 June 1837]. One page with integral address panel. (two horizontal creases.) Expressing his concern over the time Cruikshank was obviously taking to produce the proof above: "I am getting Very anxious about the Wrapper block, which ought, ere now, to be in hand. I wish, however, that you have succeeded in your experiment, and that the drawing will not need to go to wood cutters." On the verso a secretary has noted Cruikshank's reply on the 7 June 1937: "Mr. C would attend to the contents on his return to Town which would be in a week." WITH SOME SMALL DRAWINGS BY CRUIKSHANK on the address leaf, including a self-portrait, left-profile (37 x 23 mm), and a group identified in Cruikshank's hand as M. Hampstead, G. Brewster, W. Hedingham, and fellow illustrators J[ohn] Thurston and F[rederick] Branston.
PAILTHORPE, Frederick William (1800-1889). Autograph note signed ("F.W.P"). 1p., mounted. Referring to the engraved proof above: "This cover was evidently done to bring to an end the question of re-purchase by Charles Dickens, of the copy-right of "Sketches by Boz" this clever but hasty design by George Cruikshank, was etched on copper, and a cast taken to save the time and expense of engraving on wood... the subject is not even balanced, and could never have been used for its specified purpose, see G.Ck's faint penciling to rectify the design for Chapman and Hall." Pailthorpe illustrated a number of Dickens's works.