Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2012 Issue

Charles Dickens from Maggs Bros. Ltd.

Maggs1452

Charles Dickens from Maggs Bros.

There are few, if any, authors more collectible than Charles Dickens. Perhaps Shakespeare, but none of his works were published during his lifetime, and little beyond the three folios within a century thereof. Dickens published many works, and both their popularity and complexity make him an ideal author to collect. He has never gone out of style, nor out of print, and there are few communities around where you won't be able to catch, at a minimum, a performance of his Christmas Carol before the year is out.

Dickens was noted for characters who were larger than life, partly exaggeration of their attributes yet filled with realism as well. His situations could be exciting, or tense, or ones that left you wondering what would come next. He could also add a certain amount of comedy to serious subjects. However, what is most notable about Dickens' writing is his humanity. His stories are filled with moral lessons, primarily the need to improve the conditions of the poor and downtrodden. There were many of those in Dickens' era, 19th century England, and their conditions were deplorable. Dickens experienced poverty for a time during his youth, and he never forgot the horror, or the unfairness of it. Others might be willing to look the other way, but Dickens was determined to make them see the injustice. It is his humanity that permeates his novels, and though set in a very different time, this is what enables them to retain their appeal today. Settings change, but human values do not.

There is a complexity to collecting Dickens that adds to the challenge. For most authors, you just look for the first editions. It is not so easy with Dickens. He published many of his works in serialization before printing the first complete, bound edition. Compiling the parts has never been easy. Fortunately, there were people who bound together his installments back in the 19th century once they were complete, but this would be the exception. Coming by true “firsts” for Dickens is more complicated than for most authors.

Maggs Bros. Recently published their Catalogue 1452, entitled Charles Dickens. It was formed from the collection of the late John Davies of San Diego. It contains 83 items, all but a handful published in Dickens' lifetime. Maggs has done an excellent job of describing the works, and how they fit in to the complex web that is collecting Dickens. There are a certain number of “issue points” with which to deal for any author, but they are particularly pronounced with a serial publisher such as Dickens. Slight variations, or the ever present differences in advertising pages, add to the challenge of collecting the author. This may seem obscure to those on the outside, but the serious Dickens collector will understand the nuances of issue points that accompany the field. The serious Dickens collector will appreciate this catalogue. Here are a few of the classics offered.

Early in his career, while Dickens was serializing his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, he still found time to publish this hard to find pamphlet: Sunday Under Three Heads. As it is; as Sabbath bills would make it; as it might be made. It reflects the views that would dominate his writing the remainder of his life. Dickens looks at how the Sabbath is celebrated as another example of injustice to the poor. The wealthy go to their churches in their carriages for leisurely, late morning services. The poor are harangued in cramped pews, their one day off of work turned into another joyless day. Under the second head, these people now faced laws to further restrict recreational activities on the Sabbath, assuring it be a day of “universal gloom, bigotry, and persecution.” To Dickens, it should instead be made a day of joy and rest. Item 3, published in 1836. Priced at £1,000 (British pounds, or about $1,583 U.S. dollars).

Dickens' feelings about the Sabbath would be reflected a few years later on the subject of Christmas in what became one of Dickens' favorite stories: A Christmas Carol. As with the Sabbath, he thought Christmas should be a happy time, not one of dour piety. He created perhaps his most famous character in Ebenezer Scrooge, whose greed and selfishness are the epitome of how the wealthy mistreat the poor. Of course, this story has a happy ending, as Scrooge learns how to experience joy from the poor. Were it only so easy! One of these next two items is the first American edition of this Christmas classic, but it is not certain which was released slightly before the other. Item 26 is the Harper & Brothers 1844 edition, a simpler, unillustrated edition that probably reached the press first. £2,000 (US $3,166). Item 27 is the more elaborate Carey & Hart edition, also published in 1844. £5,000 (US $7,917).

Item 66 is one of Dickens' later works, and as Maggs explains, “Great Expectations in original cloth is one of the hardest challenges for the Dickens collector.” Maggs notes that most of the first editions were sent to lending libraries where heavy use required they be rebound. £60,000 (US $95,057).

Maggs Bros. Ltd. may be reached at +44 (0)20 7493 7160 or ben@maggs.com. Their website is www.maggs.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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