A Remarkable First Edition, First Impression, of Great Expectations in the Original ClothCharles Dickens. Great Expectations. In Three Volumes. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
First edition, first impression of each volume. Three octavo volumes (7.8125 x 4.9375 inches; 198 x 125 mm.). , 344; , 351, [1, printer's imprint]; , 344 pages plus 32-page publisher's catalog, dated May, 1861.
This copy has all of the internal flaws for the first issue called for by Smith, including 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), and with the first issue title pages.
In addition, almost all of the 126 points outlined in the detailed analysis found in the 1993 Clarendon edition of Great Expectations (Appendix D, Lists C and D, pp. 493-499) are in the earliest state, with the following six exceptions in Volume III: on p. 192, lines 11-12, with "himself very/carefully"; on p. 39, line 5, there is no ink between "you" and "feel"; on p. 193, foot, the middle "I" in "III" is not faint; on p. 195, line 2, the first inverted comma is not very faint; on p. 217, line 3, the dot of the semi-colon is missing after "night"; and on p. 220, line 16, the end-of-line hyphen is not faint.
Publisher's original moderate violet wavy-grain cloth with covers decoratively panelled in blind and spines ruled in blind and decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. Original pale yellow coated endpapers. Embossed stamp on the front free endpaper of Volume I: W. H. Smith & Son, 186, Strand, London.
Each volume is just slightly skewed, with the corners rubbed, the spines slightly darkened, and the gilt on the spines dulled. Volume I with the cloth chipped away at the head of the spine, with short splits at joints; the cloth chipped at the foot of the spine, with a tiny chip to the front joint; the front hinge just starting, and the rear hinge cracked, but sound. Volume II with the cloth chipped away at the head of the spine (cloth lining still intact); a few tiny chips and a short split to the cloth at the foot of the spine at the rear joint; a short split to the cloth on the rear joint; the front hinge starting, and the rear hinge cracked, but sound. Volume III with approximately one-quarter inch of the cloth chipped away across the head of the spine, with a tiny split at the rear joint and a short split in the middle; a couple of tiny splits to the cloth at the foot of the spine, and a tiny piece of cloth chipped away; very slight blistering to the cloth on the spine at the rear joint; the front hinge cracked, but sound, and the rear hinge starting.
Each volume is generally clean and fresh internally. Volume I with a few fox marks to the front free endpaper and the title page; leaves O5 and O6 (pp. 201/202 and 203/204) poorly opened, with a small piece torn from the upper blank corner of O5; S2 and S3 (pp. 259/260 and 261/262) poorly opened in the upper gutter; a tiny tear and crease to the lower edge of X2 (pp. 307/308); Z1 and Z2 (pp. 337/338 and 339/340) poorly opened, with a small piece missing in the upper gutter. Volume II with light foxing, primarily to the edges; a few faint pencil marks on pp. 74 and 75; over-opened at gathering H (between pp. 96 and 97); a few stains on H7 (pp. 109/110); L6 (pp. 155/156) poorly cut at lower edge; P7 and P8 (pp. 221/222 and 223/224) poorly opened, with a small piece torn from the lower blank corner of P7; a tiny rust spot in the inner margin of pp. 245, 246, and 247; U4 (pp. 296/297) poorly cut at the lower edge; an ink smudge on p. 332. Volume III with a small stain in the inner margin of leaves G6-H2 (pp. 91-100); G1 and G2 (pp. 81/82 and 83/84) poorly opened, with a tiny piece torn from G1; a few rust spots on pp. 226 and 227; a paper flaw to Z3 (pp. 341/342), with a tiny extension folded over onto p. 342; just slightly over-opened between p. 344 and the publisher's catalogue and between pp. 30 and 31 of the catalog.
Despite the above mentioned flaws, this is a remarkable copy, totally untouched and unsophisticated. There is what appears to be a tiny erasure in the lower blank margin of the title page of each volume, but no evidence of later issue edition statements having been removed from the title pages and no evidence of lending library labels having been removed from the front covers.
"Great Expectations originally appeared in thirty-six weekly numbers of All the Year Round from 1 December 1860 through 3 August 1861. It appeared in the three-volume book form on July 6, 1861...This first edition was followed by four other so-called editions (actually issues) on August 5, August 17, September 21, and October 30. These first five were probably printed at a single impression and published with altered title pages to imply and encourage a rapid sale. (The words announcing the 'edition' are printed between the volume number and the imprint.) In all five issues, the same misprints persist. The genuine second edition was the one-volume 'Library Edition' with Chapman and Hall published in 1862" (Smith, pp. 103-104, note 3).
"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 (1,400) copies in all) were purchased by Mudie's Select Library" (Smith I, p. 104, note 5).
Eckel, pp. 91-93. Gimbel A146. Sadleir 688. Smith I, 14.
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