[a handsome copy] With Illustrations by George Cattermole and Hablot Browne. [In Three Volumes.] London: Chapman and Hall, 1840/-41/-41. Original blind-stamped purple-brown cloth with gilt-decorated spines and front covers.
First Edition in book form of THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP and of BARNABY RUDGE. After NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, Dickens decided that all his future novels would be issued as loosely-connected tales presented by one Master Humphrey; furthermore, serialization would be weekly, and with illustrations printed within the text rather than on separate plates. MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK was initially issued in 88 weekly (and also grouped as 20 monthly) parts; the three volumes in cloth were accordingly published separately, at intervals of about seven months. Simultaneous with the publication of Vol III, MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK was divided and issued as two separate one-volume novels -- at which time Dickens gave up on the experiment, and reverted to the old formula (monthly serial parts, with separate plates) for MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT and subsequent novels.
This set is in the primary (and usual) binding, with the gilt front cover clock whose hands point to the appropriate volume number. Subscribers to serial parts could have them bound into this "original publisher's cloth" at a multitude of places, so variations of endpapers and edges are many. We have seen copies of MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK with several variations of endpapers: marbled, light coffee-brown, plain white, and (as here) pale yellow. The page edges are plain (some copies with marbled endpapers also have marbled edges).
The condition of the volumes is very good-plus: there is very slight wear at a few extremities (bottom edges) and some of the endpapers have minor cracking, but there is less than the usual fading of the spines, the cover gilt remains nice and bright, and there is scarcely any foxing within. Smith I pp 44-57. Item #13760