London: John Macrone, 1836, 1837. Three small octavo volumes. viii, 348 pp.; (iv), 342pp.; viii, 377pp., + (19)pp. of advertisements. First edition, first issues in book form of Dickens's first work. Illustrated throughout with engravings by George Cruikshank, volumes I and II each with a frontispiece and seven subsequent illustrations, and the Second Series with frontispiece, engraved title-page, and eight subsequent illustrations. Volume I Preface dated February, 1836, and both volumes with all but one or two internal flaws as called for by Smith. Second Series is one of the few early copies without the list of illustrations, with thirteen rather than seventeen lines on the first page of the Contents; legible commas on the Free and Easy imprint; and with Vol. III unerased from the foot of each plate. According to Sadleir, these points "certainly seem to represent an earlier (and perhaps suppressed) issue of the book . . . the only possible explanation seems to be that [the publisher] and Dickens planned Sketches by Boz as a three-volume work, and that the plates were prepared for the third volume in uniform style with those of Volumes I and II. Possibly Dickens then insisted on adding more material than a normal third volume could accommodate, and a second series in one bulky volume was forced on the publisher." Eckel even more definitively states that the missing list of plates "prove[s] to be a mark of the first issue of the book." Although most of the sketches in this work were originally published as separate entries in various magazines and journals between 1833 and 1836, this edition does represent the first appearance of five of the sketches: "A Visit to Newgate," "The Black Veil," "The Great Winglebury Duel," "Our Next-Door Neighbours," and "The Drunkard's Death." The first two volumes are bound in publisher's olive green cloth, with a gilt cartouche and lettering on the spines. Corners lightly bumped, some minor spotting to cloth, else about fine. Second Series is bound in the rare original rose-colored cloth with blind-stamped wreath on the front cover and spine in four compartments, top compartment lettered in gilt within a decorative gilt frame. The gilding has been applied without black pigment, again indicating one of the early copies, as mentioned by Smith. Some bumping to corners, spine slightly sunned, and a few short closed tears in cloth at foot of spine. Nearly fine. Each volume in a green cloth chemise, the three volumes housed together in a quarter morocco slipcase lettered in gilt on the spine. This set came from the collection of William E. Self, former president of Twentieth Century Fox, and bears his bookplate. Both volumes also with the bookplates of noted collectors Winston Henry Hagen and E. Hubert Litchfield. A very nice set of a seminal work of modern Western literature, with excellent provenance. Item #22180
(Eckel, pp. 11-13; Sadleir I, 700; Smith 1, 2).