With Illustrations by George Cattermole and Hablot Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1840-41. 20 monthly serial parts, in original pictorial light blue-green wrappers.
First Edition of THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and of BARNABY RUDGE. After the publication of NICHOLAS NICKLEBY in monthly parts in 1839, Dickens decided to create a weekly serial named MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK, within which he would issue his future novels. The first issue, beginning THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, was issued on April 4, 1840. When that novel was completed 44 issues later, Dickens started right in with BARNABY RUDGE (the 45th part is a transition part). When that novel was completed in the 88th (November 27, 1841) issue, Dickens terminated the MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK publication and, beginning with MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, reverted to his standard monthly serialization. These weekly parts are quite different from Dickens's monthly ones: each weekly part consisted of one large sheet folded to create sixteen pages (twelve of text, plus a front and rear "wrapper"), without any of the myriad inserted advertisements common to the monthly parts. In addition, the illustrations are woodcuts within the text, rather than separate steel-engraved plates. ~After every fourth or fifth weekly part, they were also available bound together in twenty monthly parts (as here), trimmed down a bit and with added advertisements and colored wrappers -- making them similar to Dickens's other novels. Also, MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK was available in (three) clothbound volumes, each published at intervals of about seven months -- for which the preminary leaves are provided in monthly parts VI, XII & XX. Finally, simultaneous with the publication of Vol III, MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK was divided and issued as two separate one-volume novels titled THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and BARNABY RUDGE.~This set is in remarkably near-fine condition. A few parts (such as the first and last) have minor cover soil or edge-wear, but most are in close-to-fine condition. The upper margin of some front wrappers bears the signature of initial subscribers. The inserted ads are all present with the exception of the Rippon & Burton and Tyas ads for Part 1 (almost always lacking), plus some ads in Parts 7, 10 and 13; the final part does contain the Virtue ads, often lacking. In our experience these monthly parts are scarcer than either the weekly parts or the three-volume edition. Gimbel A49; Hatton & Cleaver pp 161-182 (monthly parts); Smith I pp 44-57 and Wolff 1804 (three volumes). Housed in a morocco-backed pull-off case (showing wear) with inner cloth chemise. Item #12322