DICKENS (CHARLES) The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, FIRST EDITION, IN THE 20 ORIGINAL PARTS IN 19, Chapman & Hall, April 1836-November 1837

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Lot 74
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, FIRST EDITION, IN THE 20 ORIGINAL PARTS IN 19, Chapman & Hall, April 1836-November 1837

Sold for £ 50,250 (US$ 62,421) inc. premium
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, FIRST EDITION, IN THE 20 ORIGINAL PARTS IN 19, half-title, additional etched title and 42 plates by R. Seymour, R.W. Buss and Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"), a few plates with a little light foxing, publisher's pictorial blue wrappers, one or two parts soiled, many spines expertly restored (along with some covers, predominantly of the earlier parts, mostly at edges), each part preserved in Collis's annotated paper wrapper, preserved in maroon cloth solander box with gilt lettered spine, worn at joints [Eckel, Prime Pickwicks in Parts; Hatton & Cleaver pp.3-88; Miller & Strange, A Centenary Bibliography of the Pickwick Papers], 8vo, Chapman & Hall, April 1836-November 1837


  • A NEAR-PRIME SET OF 'PICKWICK' IN ORIGINAL PARTS, CAREFULLY ASSEMBLED IN THE 1930S BY THE LIVERPOOL COLLECTOR W.H. COLLIS. The set is probably as complete as any that has appeared at auction, and surpassed only by the likes of the Dexter copy in the British Library, with nearly all text and plates in first issue or state, all but one of the advertisements called for by Hatton & Cleaver, and with one rare variant advertisement not recorded elsewhere.

    The letterpress is virtually perfect with all points listed in Hatton & Cleaver except part 8, p.233, line 8, where there are no quad marks in "I ever". The addresses are as called for in parts 2, 3, 10, 15, 17, 18, 19/20.

    The plates are all without captions (parts 1-11 have only page numbers), and all in the first state recorded by Hatton & Cleaver. The two plates by Buss are present in part 3; and 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).

    All the advertisements, 'Pickwick Advertisers', slips and addresses listed by Hatton & Cleaver are present, with the exception of the 'Phrenology Made Easy' slip in part 7, and the very rare 'George Mann' leaflet which Hatton & Cleaver say "cannot be accepted as a definite unit in the construction of Part 9", having been found pasted into the Dexter copy.

    The wrappers are all dated 1836 and first issues except for part 2 (see below). The inner wrappers on parts 1 and 3 are blank, and the front wrappers of parts 1-3 have a bracket following the part number, reading respectively: 'With four illustrations/ by Seymour', 'With illustrations/ by Seymour' and 'With illustrations by R.W. Buss'. Parts 16 to 19/20 have the imprint of 'Bradbury and Evans, Printers, Whitefriars' added at foot.

    In terms of completeness, issue and rarity, W.H. Collis's "best set" would certainly have found a place in Eckel's 1936 Prime Pickwick in Parts, surpassing for example the McCutcheon-Suzannet copy in all those aspects, and meeting and in one case exceeding all the following criteria demanded by his contemporary bibliographers and collectors:

    (i) For Eckel it was essential that "the three insets essential to the perfect "Pickwick" were present, namely the Chapman and Hall catalogues in parts 1 and 3 and especially the four-page 'Pigot's Views in the Isle of Wight' in part 13 ("almost an unknown quantity"). Hatton & Cleaver list the five copies known at the time, of which "the fifth [our copy] is owned by a Liverpool collector".

    (ii) Dexter viewed the two mis-paginated plates in part 6 as "the greatest rarity known to me", a sentiment echoed by Hatton & Cleaver who called them "the rarest items in the whole realm of 'Pickwick'".

    (iii) Hatton & Cleaver refer to a very rare textual issue point in part 9, where p.261 is signed N2 instead of X2: "This 'point' is an extremely rare one and has not been previously recorded. Only twice has it come under writer's [sic] notice".

    (iv) Amongst the advertisements of Collis's set appears something of perhaps even greater rarity, deemed by him to be "the only known copy". Titled 'Adventures of an Oil Bottle', it appears in part 6, being one of four variants listed by Hatton & Cleaver. Narrative adverts on four pages for either Rowland's 'Kalydor' or 'Genuine Macassar Oil', they represent the first paid advertisements to appear in Pickwick. Hatton & Cleaver state that they are indicative of the earliest issue of Pickwick, ours being listed as 'No. 1c', an entry presumably based on Collis's set. Collis's copy of a note from Thomas Hatton written in June 1933 is included: "I quite agree that 'Adventures of an Oil Bottle' is earlier than 'Autobiography' [the version found in Dexter's and other copies]... it was the earliest printed and soon superseded by 'Autobiography', with slight textual differences". For good measure a copy of one of the other variants ('The Toilet', H & C's no. 1) is supplied loose along with a spare of the rear wrapper.

    Notes on individual parts:

    Part 1: the 4 plates all H & C's "first state of first Seymour plate"; with 8pp. Chapman & Hall catalogue.
    Part 2: 'The Dying Clown' in Miller & Strange's second state, after the signature, 'Mr Pickwick in Chase of His Hat' in [?]second state, 'The Refractory Steed' in first state; early issue wrappers, front wrapper reading 'With Illustrations/ By Seymour' (according to Collis "even more elusive" than the variant with the word 'Four', a loose copy of which is also supplied), inner and both rear wrappers as H & C's part 4 wrappers.
    Part 3: with the 2 Buss plates in Miller & Strange's first state; Chapman and Hall 4pp. slip at front, and rare variant 4pp. 'Adventures of an Oil Bottle' at rear ('The Toilet' variant supplied loose).
    Part 4: both plates H & C's "first state of original plate" (Collis states "hitherto unrecorded").
    Part 5: plates in Miller & Strange's first state.
    Part 6: plates in the rare mis-paginated state.
    Part 7: plates in first state.
    Part 8: p.233, line 8 without quad marks after "I"; wrappers with original setting as per H & C, "cleaned by Morrell April 1933. Wrapper IV altered to VIII March 1937... by Morrell".
    Part 9: p.261 mis-signed N2 instead of X2.
    Part 10: H & C's "first plate"; Advertiser with second state of p.10 (with 'The Poetic Wreath'); Address in second setting (with dash).
    Part 11: H & C's "first plate".
    Part 12: H & C's "first plate, first state"; "as received by WHC was untouched. Cleaned etc all through by Morell Aug 1935.. but nothing added or exchanged... Ex Hatton".
    Part 13: H & C's "first plate"; with the rare Pigot advertisement at front.
    Part 14: H & C's "first plate".
    Part 15: H & C's "first plate"; Address bound before plates and with variant headed "186 Stran D,June 30, 1837" supplied loose; the Royal Beulah Spa advert on green paper; "Remade up Nov:1932 by Riviere".
    Part 16: H & C's "first plate".
    Part 17: H & C's "first plate"; last leaf of Walter Scott advert slightly cut down.
    Part 18: H & C's "first plate"; Tea advert the issue with prices in small type (last line shaved, a copy of the other issue supplied loose); wrappers dated 1837.
    Part 19/20: H & C's "first plate"; earlier printing of Advertiser with "1388" for "1838" on p.7.

    Provenance: Part 1, "FSR Villiers 1836" and part 5, "With the publisher's compts", inscriptions on front wrappers; part 12, Thomas Hatton; remainder mostly noted by Collis as being from "lot 84" or "Coumin".

Saleroom notices

  • Please note: 1. The front wrapper of part 18 is dated 1836, not 1837. All wrappers are dated 1836. 2. The wrappers on part 8 conform to H&C's first issue, but appear to have had the part number amended as stated by Collis. 3. The Mechi's Catalogue in part 12 is lacking pp. 17-18.
DICKENS (CHARLES) The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, FIRST EDITION, IN THE 20 ORIGINAL PARTS IN 19, Chapman & Hall, April 1836-November 1837
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