As part of the books section in their Specialist Collectors Sale, a collection of over 20 early or first-edition Charles Dickens novels will go under the hammer. It was put together by a serious collector in the early 20th century, and was inherited by the current owners.
Dickens’ popular novels have never gone out of print, and have been reproduced in numerous editions over the past century. However, first-edition examples of his work are particularly hard to come by, making them especially sought after by collectors.
A journalist and editor before embarking on his career as a novelist, most of Dicken’s works were issued in monthly parts before appearing in book form. His first book was Sketches by Boz; Boz being a pseudonym he used.
An edition of Oliver Twist – or Oliver Twist: the Parish Boy’s Progress to give it the title it was first published under in 1837 – is on offer at Cuttlestones. Rushed into print before all the monthly instalments had been issued in the press, the illustrator Cruikshank finished the plates for the book in a hurry.
Dickens didn’t see them until the last minute and disliked what became known as the ‘fireside plate’ – a picture towards the end of volume 3.
An alternative picture inside a church replaced it, but a few volumes with the ‘fireside plate’ had already been released. Moreover, Dickens decided to drop the name ‘Boz’ and the later editions were then issued under Charles Dickens. One of the very early three-volume sets with the author as ‘Boz’ and the infamous ‘fireside plate’, a set not in its original covers, having been rebound, is estimated at £800-1200.