[20-in-19 serial parts] With Illustrations by H.K. Browne. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1852-1853. Original light blue-green pictorial wrappers.
First Edition, in the original 20-in-19 monthly serial parts that were issued from March 1852 through September 1853 (at the end of which time the novel was published in book form). Written just after DAVID COPPERFIELD and just before HARD TIMES, this is Dickens's famous attack on Chancery, the London legal system -- featuring such characters as the lawyer Tulkinghorn, the claimants Lord and Lady Dedlock, and of course the law firm of Jarndyce & Jarndyce. Though lives come to an end all around it, the case goes on and on, finally concluding when (surprise!) all of the fortune has been devoured by legal fees. Included are forty plates by "Phiz," of which ten are "dark plates" made possible by a new procedure.
As for completeness of this set, all of the correct wrappers are in place (no substitutions!), all of the plates are of course present (with only one in Part IX followed by three in Part X, as is proper), all of the preliminary "Bleak House Advertiser" leaves are present, all but four of the 82 terminal ads are present, and all but one of the 25-or-so preliminary slips are present. (It is worth mentioning that Part XV does include the 8-page "Village Pastor" booklet -- "a rather scarce item (often wanting)" according to H&C.) And as for condition, first and foremost there is NO "improvement" of these parts -- no later spines, no repairs. Parts II through XVIII are near-fine to fine; as is often the case, the first and last parts show the most wear, mainly Part I's front wrapper (with an edge-chip) and Part XIX/XX's rear wrapper, as well as both parts' spines.
In all, quite a collectible set of BLEAK HOUSE, housed in a(n edge-worn) full-calf pull-off case with red leather label. Hatton & Cleaver pp 273-304; Smith I pp 79-84. From the renowned Jeremy & Penny Martin Collection of literature, with their bookplate on the interior paper chemise. Item #15017