POSTAL HISTORY AND LIFE IN DICKENSIAN ENGLAND

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Lot 662*
POSTAL HISTORY AND LIFE IN DICKENSIAN ENGLAND

Sold for £ 7,800 (US$ 10,726) inc. premium
POSTAL HISTORY AND LIFE IN DICKENSIAN ENGLAND
Series of approximately 150 decorative autograph letters signed by George Cowell, an employee of the Albion Brewery, Stoke Newington and Mile End Road, to his brother Josiah, of the Wells & Perry Brewery, Chelmsford, written between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, mostly from London but with a group written while on a jaunt to the Continent, comprising a family chronicle kept in verse and prose, and exuberantly illustrated throughout, approximately 150 pages, 4to, address panels, postmarks, some with Penny Blacks and Penny Reds (a few lacking), disbound (with some lacunae), London and France, 1840 to 1843, a few later

Footnotes

  • A HIGHLY UNUSUAL, DECORATIVE, AND AMUSING CHRONICLE OF EARLY VICTORIAN ENGLAND: although the chief glory of these letters lies in their decorative aspect, the literary content is just as vivid in its evocation of the quotidian life of Dickensian London. The first letter is dated 10 January 1840, which of course is of itself significant as marking the first day of the Penny Post, that invention which made regular letter-writing and epistolary chatter – hitherto a preserve of the rich – feasible for ordinary people. This letter of the first day of the modern postal era begins: “Dear Josiah, Your letter was short & sweet. Think of me on Sunday, -- It brought to my mind my visit to Chelmsford, the pleasant hours we have spent together, the breakfast at the Lion & Lamb, the sparrow shooting, the walk to Baddow, & from Baddow home to Chelmsford, the Sunday morng & night writing our names, in the church, Mr Brays singing the Well’s – the slod – unpleasant Monday morng…”; the second letter opens: “George Cowell, who has just returned to his friends at Albion Road, Stoke Newington, by whom he is now surrounded, (his father is setting opposite jogging, but his jogs come sweet once a week, is writing at the books, his sisters, are at another table, mending stockings, &c usual Saturday night jobs) with pleasure writes to his Brother Jos at Chelmsford…”. The series peters out in late 1843. The reason for this is evident from George’s letter of 29 September 1843: “My very dear Brother, Under existing circumstances, I hope you will not take it unkind my disappointing you by not writing before, as really the little spare time I have is entirely taken up, in going to see, thinking about and writing to, My dear Emma, Youngest, sweetest and pretiest [sic] Daughter of Mr Edward, Wigington Auctioneer, Valuer, & Undertaker, of Old Street, London. I first saw her in a Camberwell omnibus, and first loved her when I first saw her, She is a few Months older than myself being 21¾ -- writes such sweet letters, talks very little, is exceeding bashful & modest, and without the shadow of a doubt, is a most amiable girl…”. See illustration on upper cover and at page 121.

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  • Please note that VAT is payable on the buyer's premium as this is an unbound manuscript
POSTAL HISTORY AND LIFE IN DICKENSIAN ENGLAND
POSTAL HISTORY AND LIFE IN DICKENSIAN ENGLAND
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