First Edition Set of Dickens' Christmas Books, Including a First Issue of A Christmas Carol
The Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; Cricket on the Hearth; The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain.
Item Number: 4330
London: Chapman and Hall, 1843-48.
First editions, first issues of all five of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books. Octavo, original cloth, 5 volumes. A Christmas Carol, in Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas is first state binding (“D” intact, 14mm margin), half-title printed in blue, title-page printed in red and blue, verso printed in blue, hand-colored etched frontispiece and three hand-colored etched plates by John Leech, four wood-engravings in-text by W.J. Linton after Leech, 2pp. publisher’s advertisements at the end. First edition, second impression per Smith, first impression, first issue per Todd YB43c (yellow endpapers, blue and red title-page, 1843 date, Stave One, remainder of text unrevised per Todd, also all per Scott save p.21, ln. 22, see supplement Table I Scott), one of three combinations that per Todd do not recur in the later issue, order 2 per Todd (no priority, outer b1 inner a1), sewers’ mark “12” and line to verso of ad leaf and recto rear endpaper, and with one of five points noted in VanderPoel (space between sentences p.127, ln. 22, is 4mm). Very light wear to the cloth, otherwise fine. The Chimes. A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year yellow endpapers, a.e.g., advertisement, half-title, engraved frontispiece and first state vignette title page. First edition, first issue, with internal flaws per Smith (save “h” p.166, some copies). In near fine condition. The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home yellow endpapers, a.e.g., half-title, frontispiece and vignette title page, first state ad leaf. First edition, first issue, with internal flaws (save p.iv and 79). Front inner hinge cracked; manuscript inscription to title page. The Battle of Life. A Love Story has yellow endpapers, a.e.g., half-title, advertisements, frontispiece and second state vignette title page [Todd C2, Eckel 2]. First edition, with four internal flaws per Smith. In near fine condition. The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain. A Fancy for Christmas-Time. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1848. 12mo, original red cloth, yellow endpapers, a.e.g., advertisements, frontispiece and vignette title page. First edition, with internal flaws noted per Smith (save pp.iv and 122, some copies). In near fine condition. Housed in a custom clamshell box. An exceptional set, uncommon in this condition.
A Christmas Carol "may readily be called the Bible of Christmas It was issued about ten days before Christmas, 1843, and 6000 copies were sold on the first day the number of reprintings have been so many that all attempts at the figures have been futile. Altogether 24 editions were issued in the original format" (Eckel, 110). "It was a work written at the height of Dickens great powers, which would add to his considerable fame, bring a new work to the English language, increase the festivities at Christmastime, and contain his most eloquent protest at the condition of the poor" (John Mortimer). "Suddenly conceived and written within a few weeks, [A Christmas Carol] was the first of Dickens Christmas books (a new literary genre thus created incidentally) it was an extraordinary achievementthe one great Christmas myth of modern literature."