A Spectacular First Edition, in the Original Parts, with the Scarce and Fragile "Cork Hats" Ad in DuplicateCharles Dickens. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With Twelve Illustrations by S.L. Fildes, and a Portrait. London: Chapman and Hall, 1870.
First edition of Dickens's final work, left unfinished at the time of his death. In the original six monthly parts (April-September 1870), as issued. Octavo (8.875 x 5.6875 inches; 225 x 144 mm.). vii, [1, "Illustrations"], 190, [2, advertisements] pages. Frontispiece portrait of Dickens ("Engraved by J.H. Baker, from a Photograph taken in 1868, by Mason & Co."), wood-engraved vignette title by J. Brown, and twelve wood-engraved plates, two by the firm of Dalziel Brothers, ten by Charles Roberts, all after Samuel Luke Fildes. A few tissue guards present (browned).
This set collates nearly complete, according to Hatton and Cleaver, including the rare and fragile "Cork Hats" ad ("a thin sheet of actual cork split to the substance of ordinary news-paper, on both sides of which is printed the publicity matter") in duplicate at the back of Part II, both copies very well preserved, with duplicate copies of the "To Whom it may Concern!" ad as well. The "Edwin Drood Advertiser" is present and complete in each part.
Part IV does not have the additional "Chapman & Hall's Recent Publications" ad (8 pages) intended for Part III and sometimes found inserted before the "Chapman & Co.'s Patent Prepared Entire Wheat Flour" ad at the back. Part V lacks the "Chapman & Hall's Recent Publications" ad (8 pages) at the back. Part VI has the second "Wilcox & Gibbs" ad (1A) at the back, with "A New World at Home for Busy People" on the first page, and lacks the "Chapman & Co.'s Entire Wheat Flour" slip (2 pages) at back.
In the original green wrappers printed in black, with a design by C. A. Collins on the outside front wrappers, and advertisements on the inside front wrappers and on the inside and outside back wrappers. In this copy, there is no full point after "II" on the front wrapper of Part II; the front wrapper to Part VI is the earliest issue, with a slip "Price Eighteenpence" pasted over the originally printed "One Shilling" rather than being correctly printed. There is some light edgewear to most wrappers, and most spines are chipped or split and repaired. The front wrapper of Parts I, III, and IV have short repaired edge tears.
The text and plates are slightly browned, but generally clean. Parts IV, V, and VI have some light to moderate foxing. A few leaves have been poorly opened. The text in Part II and the preliminary leaves in Part VI are largely unopened, and the "Henry Brett & Co." ad at the back of Part I is unopened at the outer edge. In Part V, there is a tiny piece of tape or tissue affixed to the outer blank margin of page 160, and there are two small holes in the "Land and Water" ad at the back. Bookseller's ticket on the front wrapper of Part II: William Junor, Bookseller, Stationer, and News Agent, 131. North Street, Brighton. Overall, an excellent copy. Housed in a dark green cloth chemise and quarter dark green straight-grain morocco over dark green cloth slipcase, the spine lettered in gilt with five raised bands.
"When Dickens died on June 9, 1870, he had completed only enough of his manuscript to make up six instalments, leaving unfinished a work which had commanded the widest attention for its opening numbers, and which promised to be one of his most effective and popular books. Although only three parts had been issued prior to his death, publication of the work continued, and on completion with Part 6 of all available material, the vast army of readers was left high and dry as to 'The Mystery.' The design for the front cover was by C.A. Collins (brother of Wilkie Collins), and therein are depicted eight incidents of the story, which it is frequently suggested have a bearing on the eventual solution. The Author during the writing of the story never disclosed the ultimate development of his plot" (Hatton and Cleaver, page 373). From the Victor Gulotta Collection.
Eckel, pages 96-98. Gimbel A154. Hatton and Cleaver, pages 371-382. Smith, Dickens, I, 16.
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