The Rare First Issue of "Great Expectations"

Great Expectations. In Three Volumes.

London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.

First edition in book form, first issue. Three octavo volumes (7 x 4 1/2 inches; 180 x 115 mm). [2], 344; [2], 351, [1, printer’s imprint]; [2], 344 pp. With all first issue title-pages and all the internal flaws for the first issue called for by Smith, except for the two points in Volume III that Smith notes only appeared in Sadleir's copy ("3" missing in page number on p. 103, and first "i" missing in "inflexible" on p. 193, four lines up). More impressively, besides these two previous mentioned points, this set has all first issue points called for by Clarendon except volume III, page 220, line 16, the end of line hyphen is not faint. So 116 of 119 of Clarendon 's points, of which two are only in some copies. Bound without half-titles or advertisements. Three volumes uniformly bound by Bayntun in full red morocco. Boards ruled in gilt. Board edges tooled in gilt. Gilt dentelles. Spines stamped and lettered in gilt. All edges gilt. Marbled endpapers. Some light toning to a few pages. A few instances of light "dog-ear" creasing to upper corners. Overall a near fine set. Housed in a red cloth slipcase. One of only two Dickens novels never issued in monthly parts—the typical method since Pickwick—Great Expectations is also one of only two of his novels whose first editions weren’t illustrated (in both cases, Hard Times is the other). Great Expectations first appeared in England in the pages of Dickens’s popular magazine, All the Year Round, beginning on December 1, 1860 (though two American magazines, Harper’s Weekly and the American All the Year Round began serializing it slightly earlier, technically jeopardizing Dickens’s British copyright). “The rarity of the first issue of Great Expectations has been attributed to the probable small binding-up of copies with the first title-page, coupled with the fact (according to C.P. Johnson, Hints to Collectors, p. 33, and others later) that ‘the first edition was almost entirely taken up by the libraries.’ Patten, pp. 290-92, states that 1,000 copies of the first issue and 750 of the second were printed and that probably most of the first and more than half of the second (1400) copies in all) were purchased by Mudie’s Select Library” (Smith I, p. 104, note 5). Gimbel A146. Smith, Dickens, I, 14. Eckel, pp. 91-93. Clarendon, Cardwell. HBS 68805. $27,500.

Price: $27,500.00

Item #68805