The Scarcest Format in the Original Eighty-Eight Weekly NumbersCharles Dickens. Master Humphrey's Clock. With Illustrations by George Cattermole and Hablot Browne. Vol. I. [II. III.]. London: Chapman and Hall, 1840-1841.
First edition, in the original eighty-eight weekly numbers (April 4, 1840-November 27, 1841). Large octavo (10.4375 x 7 inches; 265 x 178 mm.). , 306; vi, 306; vi, 426 pages. With 198 wood-engraved text illustrations, including (according to Hatton and Cleaver) two frontispieces (Volumes II and III), 130 illustrations, and twenty-five decorative initials by H. K. Browne ("Phiz"); one frontispiece (Volume I) and thirty-eight illustrations by George Cattermole; one illustration by Samuel Williams (Volume I, page 46); and one illustration by Daniel Maclise (Volume II, page 108). The illustrations were engraved on wood by E. Landells, C. Gray, S. Williams, and Vasey.
In the original white printed self-wrappers with a design by Cattermole engraved on wood by E. Landells on the front wrappers, and advertisements on the inside front wrappers and inside and outside back wrappers (with the following exceptions: the back wrapper of No. 26 is the dedication leaf, printed on the inside, blank on the outside; the inside front wrappers of Nos. 80-83 have an address from the author to the readers; the inside front wrapper of No. 87 has the same address, reset in smaller type, and below it, a "Postscript"). Unstitched (some numbers with stab-stitching holes). With the exception of No. 1, the wrappers are generally just slightly browned and worn. The wrappers on most numbers are still conjugate and correct, although some are splitting, and some just barely holding; the wrappers on Nos. 7, 11, 17, and 18 have separated and have been reattached to the first and last pages of text (the front wrapper of No. 18 is also affixed to the first page of text at the top and bottom edges, and the back wrapper is affixed to the last page at the bottom edge); the wrappers on No. 41 are detached. No. 44 is stained in the upper margin, but is largely unopened. The text leaves in Nos. 31 and 42 have been supplied from the monthly parts, with three sewing holes.
There are advertisements (not called for) tipped to the inside front wrapper, or laid in at the front or back of Nos. 47, 48, 51-57, 60-63, 71, 74, and 84. Ink ownership inscription upside down at the foot of page 131 in No. 11. Bookseller's ticket on the front wrapper of No. 79: "Sold at E. Madden's. / Stationary & Fancy Warehouse / 7. Grafton Strt." A very good copy of this fragile set. Housed in a red cloth chemise with ribbon ties and a quarter red morocco over red cloth book-backed pull-off case, the spine ruled in blind and lettered in gilt with five raised bands.
"Issued as a folded sheet of sixteen pages, uncut and unopened: of which twelve were numbered pages of letterpress-the other four pages (two leaves) forming the outer wrapper" (Hatton and Cleaver).
"Master Humphrey's Clock was originally published in 88 weekly numbers, beginning with No. 1 on April 4, 1840, and ending with Nos. 87 and 88 (separately) on November 27, 1841. Every fourth or fifth week the textual portion of the weekly numbers was collected into a single monthly part and distributed in that form. There are 20 monthly parts (April 1840-November 1841), 8 of which consist of 5 weekly numbers each, and 12 of 4 weekly numbers each. After the monthly parts, Master Humphrey's Clock was issued in three volumes with yellow endpapers and with marbled endpapers and marbled edges. The next sequence in the publishing history of Master Humphrey's Clock was the issuance of its two novels, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge, as separate volumes with and without the Master Humphrey data. Chapman and Hall then continued to publish further issues of the two novels from the first edition plates" (Smith, p. 57, note 3).
"Of the four issues the weekly one is difficult to obtain in a clean condition, and is therefore the costliest" (Eckel).
The opening chapter of "The Old Curiosity Shop" begins on page  in No. 4. The opening chapter of "Barnaby Rudge" begins on page  in No. 46. From the Victor Gulotta Collection.
Eckel, pages 67-70. Gimbel A49. See Hatton and Cleaver, pages 161-182, and Smith, Dickens, I, 6.
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