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Charles Dickens first editions

Collecting Charles Dickens'(1812-1870) first editions is done with an intense passion by many collectors who consider him to be the UK's greatest novelist. 

It could be that no other English writer has created a world of characters so distinctively cruel or suffering, comic or repugnant as Dickens has; no other writer has written so convincingly of the wrongs inflicted on children by adults in the 19th century. He used his own first-hand experiences from his childhood to help portray these wrongs.  His father was frequently thrown into a debtors' prison, and Dickens was sent to work in a blacking factory at the age of twelve. Most bitter for him was his parents' failure to educate him. He reacted to this indifference by working hard throughout his entire life explains the prolific amount of books that he wrote.

Collecting Charles Dickens's first editions is not without its challenges! Dickens in the original parts often has all sorts of issue points, as well as preferred collations for the original accompanying advertisements. Charles Dickens's first editions in original cloth see the value wobble remarkably depending on condition, but again issue points, sometimes incredibly pedantic (for example millimetre differences in the upper cover design on Dickens' Christmas Carol), provide a crucial distinction for collectors. Signed Charles Dickens first editions are another league again, with important association copies of key titles worth multiple tens of thousands of pounds.

If you're in possession of a first edition or rare book to sell, contact us for more information.


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  1. 25 volumes, including 'Dickensiana' and plate volume, one of 877 numbered sets, 8vo., with illustrations printed from the original plates, original vari-coloured cloth, morocco labels, top edges gilt on the rough, others uncut, light even and uniform fading to spines as usual, a little spotting to the buckram on one or two volume but a really pleasing set.

  2. 17 vols in 13, 4to (250 x 190 mm); wood-engraved plates and illustrations by Barnard, 'Phiz' and others, historiated capital to the first word of each chapter, occasional foxing but in the main confined to some preliminary and terminal leaves and then mostly to some endpapers, in the main, clean and bright; near-contemporary half calf, gilt panelled spines with red and brown morocco labels, very minor rubbing, otherwise near-fine.

  3. 30 volumes (complete); 8vo; variously illustrated in black & white by George Cruikshank, G. Cattermole, Robert Seymour and 'Phiz' (Hablot Knight Browne) and others, varying degrees of foxing to most of the preliminary and terminal pages, occasional spotting elsewhere but in the main, bright; contemporary half calf over cockerel paper covered boards, matching endpapers and all edges similarly marbled, spines with very fine gilt, rubbed at extremities, minor abrasions to some edges, otherwise a very good, original set.

  4. One volume edition, later issue. Contemporary half green calf, titles and decoration to spine gilt, tan endpapers. Early gift inscription to first blank leaf, with a further neat ownership inscription to the front free endpaper, tips a little rubbed. Very nice.

  5. First edition in book form ('latter' for 'letter', p. 160; 'flys' for 'flies', p. 245; 'visiters' for 'visitors', p. 272); 8vo (234 x 154 mm, 12¾ x 6 in); half-title, engraved portrait of Dickens after Daniel Maclise, 39 engraved plates by H.K. Browne [Phiz], frontispiece and first four illustrations in first state with imprint of Chapman and Hall (cf. Smith I, 5, p. 42), some minor toning and a few spots to plates, portrait of Dickens spotted (as usual) with transfer onto title-page opposite, plate 37 ('The breaking up at Dotheby's Hall') bound out of sequence after p. 620, small closed tears to list of plates professionally repaired at outer margin, very small loss to upper corner of pp. 501-502 (not affecting text); publisher's dark olive green cloth, front and back covers stamped in blind, recased with new yellow endpapers, spine slightly sunned, small closed tear at foot, extremities slightly bumped, othewise very good.

  6. First edition in book form. 8vo. Bound without the half title. With additional engraved title and engraved plates by H.K.Browne [Phiz]. Contemporary half green calf over marbled paper boards, brown endpapers. Foxing to the plates and attendant leaves, edges just a little rubbed. Dickens memorial sticker to front free endpaper. A pleasing copy in contemporary condition.

  7. First edition, bound from the original parts, two volumes bound as one, 8vo., [a]4, b2, B-X8; [vii], viii-xii, 320; engraved title and 20 plates; Vol. II. [A]3, B-U8, X4; [iii-v], vi-viii, 310, [2]; 20 plates; both half-titles present, even age-toning, occasional spotting to some plate margins, otherwise very good indeed; 20th century half navy blue calf over cloth gilt, one set of the original part wrappers bound in, the upper wrapper dated September 1865, top edge gilt, in fine condition.

  8. First edition in book form, first issue (with signature BB2 misprinted as 'B2' at page 371; 'William' instead of 'Frederick' on page 317, line 27; and the name 'Rigaud' appears instead of 'Blandois' on pages 469, 470, 472, and 473; several errors noted in three-line errata on page xiv); 8vo; 40 plates from etchings by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz'), including the 8 'dark plates' and the additional title-page and frontispiece, some mild toning and occasional foxing; modern full blue morocco, lettered and ruled in gilt with corner ornaments, raised bands, marbled endpapers, dentelles, all edges gilt, a little minor rubbing, otherwise a very good copy.

  9. First edition in book form, first issue (with 'visiter' for 'sister' on p. 123 and 'latter' for 'letter', 'flys' for 'flies' on p. 245, and 'visiters' for 'visitors' on p. 272); 8vo; engraved portrait of Dickens after Daniel Maclise and 39 engraved plates by H.K. Browne [Phiz], some minor toning and a few spots to plates, otherwise bright; later full polished tan calf by Morrell, gilt-ruled borders, raised bands, gilt spine compartments, gilt-rolled edges, gilt dentelles, all edges gilt, a few minor marks, otherwise a very handsome copy.

  10. First edition, first issue; 2 volumes, 8vo; 12 illustrations by George Cruikshank, occasional, light foxing, mostly to preliminary and terminal leaves, publisher's floral-patterned, embossed, pink cloth, spines gilt, a little rubbed and dust-soiled, spines faded, otherwise very good; xix, [3], 288; ix, [1], 263 [1], 36 (ads) pp.

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