the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. With Illustrations by H.K. Browne. [20 monthly serial parts in 19.] London: Bradbury & Evans, 1849-1850. Original pictorial light blue-green wrappers.
First Edition in the original serial parts, issued monthly beginning in May 1849 and ending (with a double number) in November 1850; the same sheets were then issued in book form, using the preliminaries supplied in the last part, on 14 November 1850. COPPERFIELD was Dickens's most autobiographical novel, written in the first person; along with OLIVER TWIST and A CHRISTMAS CAROL, it remains one of his best-loved today.
This set has all the proper wrappers with the exception that the wrappers of Part II are from another Part I; also, the rear wrapper of Part VIII is actually from another Part XV, but the original Part VIII rear wrapper is loosely included -- torn in half, and then stitched together with thread (as was done 120+ years ago). All 19 parts include the proper "Copperfield Advertiser" preliminary ads, although four parts have one or more "Advertiser" pages missing. Of all the various terminal ads, this set lacks only three: "Lett's Diaries" in VIII (as is often the case), "Eliza Cook" in XVIII, and part of "Cundall & Addey" in XIX/XX. Four of the announcement slips (following the plates) are lacking.
All of the 40 plates by "Phiz" are of course present, though about half have some darkening around the edges. Condition is generally very good, with minor wrapper edge-wear and soil; the wrappers' spines of some parts are restored at the ends with paper of similar color; in the case of the first two parts and the last double-part, the entire spine is so restored. Most of the parts have the same early penciled signature at the top of the front wrapper -- a plus.
COPPERFIELD was issued with fewer copies than most of Dickens's other serials of the period such as BLEAK HOUSE and LITTLE DORRIT; as Eckel wrote of COPPERFIELD almost 90 years ago, "Comparatively the printing was small and the parts were much read and roughly handled, so it is that fine, clean and unrepaired copies are difficult to procure." This is not a fine set, but it is accordingly not priced in five figures. Eckel pp 77-78; Hatton & Cleaver pp 253-272; Podeschi/Gimbel A121; Carr B220. Housed in a cloth clamshell case. Item #14550