[the very scarce first issue] [London: St. Luke's Hospital, 1860.] Original pale mauve wrappers.
First Edition, first issue -- with the final paragraph in the same type as the rest of the text (and not in bold type), with the wrapper mauve (and not pink -- though all are today faded), with the front cover title followed by a period (not by a comma), and with the front cover border decorative on all sides (not just at the corners). Dickens describes the wretched conditions inside St. Luke's Hospital ("established in 1751, for the treatment and care of lunatics"), and in particular the "very sad and touching spectacle" of the annual Christmas Ball there (dancing around the Christmas tree).
He actually wrote the original piece in 1852, at which time it appeared in his Household Words (Dickens's authorship was questioned until 1913, when the original manuscript -- in his hand -- turned up). It is here published in book form for the first time, eight years later, when Dickens gave permission for the hospital to use it as a fundraising appeal. The hospital added two items to update the piece: an article about the 1860 Ball from the "Times," plus a brief article "Contrast between 1852 and 1860," in which the hospital asserts that many of the deficiencies cited by Dickens have since been addressed. (The results of this initial mailing were not good -- which is why for the second issue, the final paragraph, the actual appeal, was highlighted in bold.)
This is a near-fine copy of this very fragile item, with scarcely any wear but with a little faint soil and foxing; as usual, the mauve wrappers have faded. As with almost all copies, there is a vertical crease: the booklet was folded vertically when the fundraising appeal was mailed out in narrow envelopes. Quite an uncommon Dickens first edition -- much scarcer than the second issue. Podeschi (Yale) B216 (first copy); Carr (U of Texas) B465; Eckel pp 188-191 ("the [second] issue in pink [wrappers] is much more common than the [first] one in purple"). Housed in a morocco-backed clamshell case. Item #14420