DICKENS, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club...Edited by "Boz." London: Chapman & Hall, April 1836-November 1837.
20 parts in 19, 8o (227 x 140mm). 43 engraved plates (including engraved title) by R. Seymour, R.W. Buss, and Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"] (some spotting and discoloration, a few with short marginal tears). (Part 7 misbound with quire Q in duplicate [second lacks final leaf] and lacking quire R, with additional quires Q and R supplied from another copy loosley inserted, some occasional minor marginal spotting or soiling.) Original green pictorial printed wrappers, uncut (several spines slightly defective, some with small repairs, occasional soiling and wear); two red morocco pull-off cases.
Provenance: Contemporary ownership signatures on front wrapper of part 4 ("E. Garrow?"), part 11 ("Thomas Brown"), and part 13 ("J.P. Hellier"). Inside front wrapper to part 3 inscribed "With the Publishers Compliments." Frank T. Sabin, sold to Gabriel Wells, New York bookseller, who sold it to George Barr McCutcheon (his sale, American Art Association, 21 April 1926, lot 14, puchased by James F. Drake who sold it to Owen D. Young [see note below]); Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate, his sale, Sotheby's, 22 November 1971, lot 19 for £1700); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS OF DICKENS'S FIRST NOVEL. THE NEAR-PRIME McCUTCHEON-SUZANNET 'PICKWICK', with most first issue points as noted in Hatton and Cleaver (see below).
What would eventually become immortalized as The Pickwick Papers, began as a commission for Dickens to write a series of comic sketches to accompany monthly sporting plates by the popular illustrator Robert Seymour. Following the suicide of Seymour shortly into the project, Dickens took over and changed the direction of the enterprise giving the narrative much more prominence, transforming the series of journalistic sketches into a novel. He found the replacement for Seymour in the young Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"), who would become his most consistent collaborator, portraying a legion of Dickens's characters over their lengthy association. Pickwick gained a huge readership at all levels of society (particularly after the appearance of Sam Weller in the fourth number), bringing unprecedented success and fame to the young author.
Laid in the first part is THE EXCESSIVELY RARE LEAFLET WHICH COMPRISES THE EARLIEST ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PUBLICATION OF THE FIRST NUMBER OF 'THE PICKWICK PAPERS': "This days is published, To Be continued monthly, Price one Shilling, The First Number of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club..." London: Chapman and Hall . One page, 8o, printed on both sides. According to Miller & Strange this is the earliest known announcement of The Pickwick Papers, and was inserted in The Domestic Magazine (see Miller & Strange, plate opposite [p.67]).
Inserted in last part of this copy, before the printed dedication, is an address panel ADDRESSED IN DICKENS'S HAND to the dedicatee of The Pickwick Papers, his friend Serjeant Talfourd, M.P., with Dickens's franking signature and wax seal (see also lot 80).
THE NEAR-PRIME McCUTCHEON-YOUNG-SUZANNET "PICKWICK". Although not noted in the Suzannet catalogue (perhaps since it does not contain his distinctive bookplate), this set is the celebrated McCutcheon-Young copy listed among the fifteen copies in Eckel's Prime Pickwicks in Parts (1928)--minus the duplicate plates in various states, an autograph letter to Charles Hicks (which became lot 201 in the Suzannet sale), and 3 original Phiz drawings (all removed some time prior to the Suzannet sale). In his extremely thorough and detailed card catalogue, Starling identifies it as the McCutcheon copy, and a comparison of some of the distinguishing characteristics of his copy confirms this: Part 1 includes the extremely rare Pickwick announcement leaflet, the publisher's compliments inscription inside the blank front wrapper of part 3, the misbound part 7 with lacking quire supplied, and the inserted addressed envelope in Dickens hand to Talfourd in the final part. The set is preserved in two full red levant morocco solander cases, with inner cloth wrappers, corresponding to the McCutcheon sale catalogue (the foreword of which states the collector selected the color red morocco for his Dickens and green for his Thackeray books). The extra slip-case holding extra plates no longer accompanies this set.
The McCutcheon sale catalogue of 1926 (prepared prior to the exhaustive bibliographies of Hatton & Cleaver and Miller & Strange) describes the set as follows: "This set of Pickwick may well be regarded as one of the finest in existence. It has all the 'points,' and the parts are in extremely good condition. John F. Dexter and Frank Sabine [sic], both well-known English experts on Dickens, have passed upon this copy and pronounce it to be well-nigh perfect. In several particulars it differs from and improves upon the Lapham, Coggeshall and other well-known copies, and in the matter of plates disagrees in some instances with John C. Eckel, in his bibliography of Dickens."
A summary of the issue points based Hatton & Cleaver and Miller & Strange:
Text: All text is in first state throughout, except in parts 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 (inserted quire points), 8, 9, and 12.
Wrappers: All wrappers are dated 1836. Inner wrappers on parts 1-3 are blank. Front wrappers on parts 1 and 2 read: "With four illustrations by Seymour," and on part 3: "With illustrations by R.W. Buss." Front covers of parts 1-3 do not have brackets after "No." as noted in some copies by Hatton & Cleaver. Parts 16 through 19/20 with "Bradbury and Evans, Printers, Whitefriars" at the bottom of all front wrappers.
Advertisements: All advertisements, Pickwick Advertisers, slips and addresses as noted by Hatton & Cleaver are present, with the exception of the "Phrenology Made Easy" slip in part 7, the very rare "George Mann" leaflet in part 9 and "Pigot's Coloured Views" in part 13.
Addresses: All present with the addresses by the Author in the earliest state in parts 2 and 3; in part 10 there is a dash at the end of the fourth paragraph (measurement nearly correct); in part 15 the Address is second issue according to Miller & Strange. The Addresses by the Publisher in parts 17 and 18 are correct, but the one in part 19/20 is not a first issue according to Miller and Strange.
Plates: All plates are before letters (parts 1-12 have only page numbers; parts 13-19/20 with neither captions nor page numbers), and in the first state except those in parts 1, 2, and 4: the four plates by Seymour in part 1 are in early states (see Miller and Strange, pp. 8-15); "The Dying Clown" plate by Seymour in part 2 in second state, after the signature; the two plates by Buss are present in part 3; the two plates are in second state of part 4; two plates in first state in part 5; the two plates in part 6 are in the FIRST STATE, with page numbers interchanged ("THE RAREST ITEMS IN THE WHOLE REALM OF 'PICKWICK'"--Hatton & Cleaver); plates in first (or only) state in each of parts 7 to the end (19/20).
Eckel, Prime Pickwicks in Parts, p. 13 (this copy with some additional material); Grolier English 78; Hatton & Cleaver, pp. 3-88; Miller & Strange, A Centenary Bibliography of the Pickwick Papers.