London: Chapman & Hall, MDCCCXLIII (1843); London: Bradbury & Evans, 1846; London: Bradbury & Evans, MDCCCXLVI (1846); London: Chapman & Hall, MDCCCXLV (1845); London: Bradbury & Evans, 1848. 5 vols., 8vo, see below for the discussion of states and pagination. All volumes in full dark green morocco extra, covers with gilt holly sprigs at corners, backstrips faded to rich brown, lettered and stamped in gilt, gilt edges: each book in very good condition. A Christmas Carol with its original light-brown and vertically ribbed cloth covers and green end-papers bound in at the end. The rest of the Christmas Books are uniformly bound in matching morocco, vertically ribbed red cloth covers bound in at the end, all edges gilt. Each volume has the bookplate of Henry Sloane Coffin, by descent to a private collector in San Francisco. A lovely set perfect for reading or handling without fear of damage. First editions of all five of Dickens’s Christmas books. With engravings by D. Maclise, R. Doyle, C. Stanfield, J. Leech, J. Tenniel, and F. Stone, Thompson, G. Dalziel, E. Dalziel, T. Williams, Swain, and Groves. A Christmas Carol is the high point and the crucial component in any set of Dickens’s Christmas Books. Dickens kept its production on a short leash and anecdotes abound about his pleasure or displeasure with the differently colored endpapers, the color of the cloth for the binding, the typography and so forth. Oddly enough, despite Dickens’ personal attention to this edition, it is not a particularly well-made title. Coupled with the legions of fans who often read their copies “to death,” it comes as no surprise that original and well-preserved copies of this book, in its correct state, seldom appear on the market. The Chimes, written in Genoa, Italy, was commercially more successful than A Christmas Carol and Dickens worked hard to make this second Christmas book a worthy successor. The Cricket... grew from the idea to begin a weekly periodical which would have been called “The Cricket,” though was abandoned quickly for a more important venture and the founding of The Daily News. The Cricket was wildly successful, doubling in circulation of both its predecessors. Dickens wrote The Battle of Life during a period of recuperation needed after illness attributed to overworking; despite being seriously indisposed he managed to complete the work, while working on Dombey and Son, though it was not as successful as his other Christmas books thus far. The Haunted Man... was the last of the Christmas books, and despite requiring a final rally from the author to avoid disappointing the public, the book is considered the least interesting and lowest grossing of the Christmas books; the issue of 20,000 had not completely sold when the author died. All books are in their most desirable states, as follows:
A Christmas Carol...: [i-viii], -166, [2, ads] pp. First edition, first issue. Green endpapers; “Stave I” on pp. 1; uncorrected text throughout; red-and-blue printed title page, with four color etchings and four woodcuts, full-page color etchings.
The Chimes...: [i-viii], -175, [1, imprint; 1, advert.] pp. First edition, first issue. The name of the publishers is a part of the the vignette title page as per the first issue. 11 woodcuts in text and steel engraved frontis and titlepage.
The Cricket on the Hearth...: [i-viii], -174, [lacks 2pp. ads] pp. First edition, first issue. With steel engraved frontis and titlepage, and 12 woodcuts in text.
The Battle of Life...: [i-viii], [1-3], 4-175, [3, imprint and ads]. First edition, second of four states of the engraved title. Terminal ads announce the publication in parts of Dombey and Son, and the bound volume of Oliver Twist. In addition to the engraved frontis and titlepage there are 11 woodcuts in the text.
The Haunted Man and the Ghosts Bargain...: [i-viii], -188 pp., with engraved frontis and title page, and 15 woodcuts in the text.
Smith II 4, 5, 6, 8, 9. Eckel 116-134. Item #109280