DICKENS, CHARLES. 1812-1870.
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman and Hall, April 1836-November 1837.
20 parts in 19. 43 plates by Robert Seymour, R.W. Buss, and H.K. Browne ("Phiz"), plus 25 duplicate plates by Seymour and Browne. 8vo (225 x 141 mm). Original green pictorial wrappers designed by Seymour. Custom chemise and morocco pull off case. Spotting to plates in part 19/20, wrappers rebacked with some minor spotting and finger soiling, a bit of light chipping to extremities, and uneven toning to wrappers of a few parts, faint ring mark and splitting to spine of part 1, front wrapper of parts 2 & 15 starting, faint illegible period ownership inscription to front wrapper of part 10, bottom edge of rear wrapper of part 11 repaired near spine, chipping to spine and to bottom edge of back wrapper of part 15 with loss of text; most gatherings of part 15 unstitched, chip to top edge of front wrapper of part 19/20.
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS, AN EARLY ISSUE WITH 25 DUPLICATE PLATES IN VARIANT STATES, including the exceptionally rare third plates of Nos 40 & 41. Also present are the suppressed plates by R.W. Buss in part 3 and the rare first state plates in part 4. The remainder of the duplicate plates are comprised of the substitute plates etched by "Phiz" to replace the suppressed plates in part 3 of later issues; variant states of the Seymour plates in part 1; variant states of the plates for parts 10, 13-18; plate 24 in part 11; and variants of the frontispiece and engraved title. First issue wrappers and text in parts 4-7 & 9-19/20, first issue wrappers and early issue text of part 1, later issue back wrapper and later issue text in part 2, later issue wrappers and text of part 3, second issue wrappers and mixed issue text in part 8. With the Pickwick Advertiser present in parts 4-19/20, those for parts 4-8 being extremely rare (none issued for parts 1-3), and with 8 pp Advertiser instead of 16 pp in part 10. With the excessively rare 4 pp Chapman & Hall announcements at the front of part 1, without the equally rare inset at front of part 3, and without the almost unknown "Pigot's View" inset at front of part 13. Without advertisements at back of part 3, 5, 7, & 9 (slip), without catalog at back of 12, and with M.A. Thiers ad laid-in at back of part 18. All other advertisements called for by Hatton & Cleaver present plus an 8 pp Allan Bell catalog not called for at the back of part 11. All addresses by author & publisher present, with part 2 being an early facsimile (not uncommon), second issue address in part 10.
The Pickwick Papers had originally been conceived as a showcase for the illustrations of Robert Seymour, with Dickens, then a young and relatively unknown journalist writing under the name of "Boz," engaged by the publishers more or less as an accompanist. Of the modest one thousand copies printed of part 1, only 400 made it into circulation on the day of publication. Sales of the inaugural issue being slow, a mere five hundred copies were printed of the second part. However, when part 2 unexpectedly sold out, as well as the remaining copies of part 1, both were reprinted before the publication of part 3. With the introduction of Sam Weller in part 4, The Pickwick Papers caught firesales skyrocketed, and a literary star was born. Seymour, however, was not to share in its success; shortly after etching the final plate for the second part, he took his own life. Robert William Buss was engaged to illustrate the third part, but a dissatisfied Dickens insisted on a replacement for the following part. Hablot K. Browne was contracted, and thus began one of the most fruitful collaborations in the annals of Victorian literature. "Phiz" ultimately etched new plates to replace those done by Buss, and, in order to meet the high demand, etched duplicate plates for parts 10-19/20. Prime copies of The Pickwick Papers are extremely uncommon, and a copy such as thisfeaturing numerous first issue points, and with 25 additional plates accounting for many of the variant issues of the illustrationsis rarely seen on the market. Eckel pp 23-49; Hatton & Cleaver pp 1-88.