The Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; Cricket on the Hearth; The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain.
London: Chapman and Hall, 1843-48.
First editions of all five of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books, chief among them a first issue of A Christmas Carol, the veritable “Bible of Christmas.” Octavo, 5 volumes. Bound in full red polished calf by Zaehnsdorf, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. Housed together in a custom slipcase. Illustrated with sixty-three engravings altogether, four in color, by Leech, Maclise, Stanfield, Doyle and Landseer. Christmas Carol is from the first issue, with uncorrected text (“Stave I” as the first chapter heading), the red-and-blue title page dated 1843, and the half title printed in blue. Four more Christmas books followed its success. In each book, he deftly develops the themes of the first, ideals that have consequently become inseparable from the holiday itself: love and redemption, charity and mercy. First edition of The Chimes, with second state of the engraved title page (publisher’s imprint is below the engraved title vignette); First edition of The Cricket on the Hearth, with second state of advertising leaf at rear (headed “New Edition of Oliver Twist”); First edition of The Battle of Life, with vignette title page in the fourth state (subtitled “A Love Story” on a scroll carried by an angel and without publisher’s imprint); First edition of Haunted Man and Ghost’s Bargain. 110-125. Smith II: 4-6, 8-9. Gimbel (Podeschi). An exceptional set.
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