BLEAK HOUSE. Charles Dickens.


[in the primary cloth binding] With Illustrations by H[ablot]. K. Browne. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853. Original blind-stamped olive green cloth, all page edges gilt.

First Edition in book form (following issuance in 20-in-19 monthly parts), of Dickens's famous novel that attacks Chancery, the London legal system. Included are forty plates by "Phiz," of which ten are "dark plates" made possible by a new procedure.

This copy is still in the original cloth binding -- the primary one, with blind-stamping that includes 16 little beads around each cover's outer margin. (An ad in the final serial part urged customers to either (a) buy the book in this binding for one guinea (£1/1s/0d), or (b) take their serial parts to "their Booksellers" to arrange for the parts to be bound up in this binding for 1s/6d. This copy -- bound without the half-title and of course without all the ads -- is from the latter option, as one can see the parts' stab-holes; the owner of these parts paid extra, though, to have gilding added to the page edges.)

Condition is good-to-very good -- actually, near-fine except for the rear joint, where there is wear along the rear joint and a little at the spine ends, though no cloth is missing and nothing new (other than glue) has been added. The pale-yellow endpapers are original, though substantially cracked at the gutter (again, glued in place, so all is tight). Lastly, all forty plates are present, but (as is often the case) they are browned at the outer margin and some have moderate foxing; as always the spine is sunned to a honey brown -- unavoidable with olive green cloth. These hefty octavo Dickens volumes (this one is 624 pages not including the plates) were much too heavy for their delicate cloth and endpapers -- which is why the vast majority of copies have been rebound; in our experience, BLEAK HOUSE is considerably more difficult to find in original cloth than in serial parts. With Inspector Bucket investigating, BLEAK HOUSE is a Haycraft-Queen "Cornerstone" of Detective, Crime & Mystery Fiction; the book first appeared on the screen as a silent film in 1920, and more recently (2005) as a British TV mini-series. Smith I pp 79-84. Item #14551

Price: $1,950.00

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