Master Humphrey's Clock
“A CONCORD OF AFFECTION AND BROTHERHOOD”: DICKENS’ MASTER HUMPHREY’S CLOCK, IN 20 MONTHLY PARTS
DICKENS, Charles. Master Humphrey’s Clock by “Boz” London: Chapman and Hall, 1840-41. Twenty monthly parts. Quarto, original pale green pictorial wrappers. Housed in custom three-quarter green pebbled calf pull-off case. $4000.
First edition of Master Humphrey’s Clock in original monthly parts, including The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by George Cattermole and Hablôt Knight Browne (“Phiz”).
When Dickens conceived of this work, he “had already written his preface to [Nickleby], in which for the first time he adopts that fond and agreeable tone towards his audience which he wished to continue” in Master Humphrey’s Clock, “his aim being, he said, that of ‘…one who wished their happiness, and contributed to their amusement.’ Here is Dickens as the man of feeling, uniting all his readership in a concord of affection and brotherhood” (Ackroyd, 291). “Dickens feared that his readers had become weary of stories in monthly issues on account of the lapse of time between the numbers. At the request of Chapman & Hall he outlined his plans partially in a letter… The new [weekly] venture began… with a circulation of 70,000, but this fell so quickly that the original project was abandoned and a [monthly] serial was begun in the fourth number under the well-known title of ‘The Old Curiosity Shop” (Eckel). This is the first edition in monthly parts, the second of four original forms of publication of Master Humphrey's Clock: (1) 88 weekly parts, (2) 20 monthly parts, (3) a three-volume edition (“triple-decker”), and (4) separately bound volumes of The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. “Every fourth or fifth week, the text portion of the weekly numbers was collected, and made up into a single part, each being bound in green wrappers, and these constituted the monthly parts” (Hatton & Cleaver). Master Humphrey's Clock is the first time wood-engravings were used as a medium in place of etchings on steel. The cover illustrations were engraved by Landells from designs by George Cattermole. Hablôt K. Browne (“Phiz”) provided 154 of the 198 in-text illustrations. Browne illustrated this work as it was being written— not having the advantage of reading and analyzing the book before making his preliminary drawings (Hodnett, 110). All but three advertisements are present (without the Cumberland advertisement in part 11 and the two called for in part 14). Part 11 contains instead, duplicate advertisements from part 1, with the Rippon dated March 1st, 1840, some resetting in the Beart’s advertisement, different wood-engravings in the Tyas, and an additional, unrecorded publisher’s advertisement for Picturesque Sketches in Scotland. Wrappers on parts 11 and 15 are supplied from parts 3, 13 and 16 of another set. Hatton & Cleaver, 163-182. Eckel, 67-70. Gimbel A50.
Wrappers remarkably clean with only light soiling, expert restoration to some spines. An excellent copy of this rare first edition in original monthly parts.