“COMPLETISTS ARE REQUIRED TO GET THE 88 WEEKLY PARTS IN WHITE WRAPPERS”: DICKENS’ MASTER HUMPHREY’S CLOCK
DICKENS, Charles. Master Humphrey's Clock by "Boz." London: Chapman and Hall, 1840-41. Eighty-eight weekly parts. Quarto, original white pictorial wrappers. Housed in custom cloth clamshell box. $4900.
First edition of Master Humphrey’s Clock in the scarce original 88 weekly parts, including The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by George Cattermole and Hablôt Knight Browne ("Phiz"). An exceptional copy.
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 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. The weekly edition is the most scarce and desirable form. Each weekly number was issued on a Saturday as a single folded sheet of 16 pages (including wrappers), uncut and unopened. "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). Eckel, 67-70. Hatton & Cleaver, 163. Gimbel A49.
Text complete, clean and fine. A very few wrappers with minor paper restoration at spine ends; final part expertly respined. An exceptional, bright, near-fine set.