London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. Item #04558
A Superb First Edition Set of The Charles Dickens Christmas Books
Beautifully Bound by Root & Son ca. 1920
DICKENS, Charles. ROOT & SON, Binders. The Christmas Books. London: [Various], 1843-1848.
A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being A Ghost Story of Christmas… With illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843.
First edition, first issue, with "Stave I" reading. Sixteenmo (6 3/8 x 4 inches; 160 x 100 mm). , 166, [2, ads] pp. Complete with half-title and ads. Half-title printed in blue, title-page printed in red and blue, four hand-colored plates, and intertextual illustrations. Original endpapers bound in.
The Chimes: A Goblin Story or some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and A New Year In. London: Chapman and Hall, 1845.
First edition, second state of the engraved title. Sixteenmo (6 3/8 x 4 inches; 160 x 100 mm). , 175, [1, colophon] pp. Complete with ad for A Christmas Carol on verso of the first leaf. Engraved frontispiece, engraved title, and intertextual illustrations.
The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home. London: Printed and Published for the Author, by Bradbury and Evans, 1846.
First edition. Sixteenmo (6 3/8 x 4 inches; 160 x 100 mm). , 174, [2, ads] pp. Complete with half-title and the Oliver Twist advertisement at end. Engraved frontispiece, engraved title, and intertextual illustrations.
The Battle of Life. A Love Story. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1846.
First edition, fourth issue, with Cupid added to the scroll but without publisher's imprint on engraved title. Sixteenmo (6 3/8 x 4 inches; 160 x 100 mm). , [1-2, sectional title], 3-175, [1, colophon], [2, ads] pp. Complete with half-title and ads. Engraved frontispiece, engraved title, and intertextual illustrations.
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. A Fancy for Christmas-Time. London: Bradbury &
First edition. Sixteenmo (6 3/8 x 4 inches; 160 x 100 mm). , 188 pp. Complete with ads and half-title. Engraved frontispiece, engraved title, and intertextual illustrations.
Uniformly bound by Root & Son ca. 1920 (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-ins). Full blue crushed levant morocco, covers with three-line gilt border surrounding a large holly leaf inlaid in green morocco and detailed in gilt with six inlaid red morocco berries on stem. Four similar but smaller corner-pieces also inlaid in green and red morocco. Spines with five raised bands, similarly decorated with inlaid green and red morocco holly leaves and lettered in gilt in compartments. Decorative gilt board edges and turn-ins, pale blue liners and endleaves. all edges gilt. Each volume with the original tan and brick red cloth covers and spines bound in at end. Spines very slightly and uniformly darkened. Some scattered light foxing otherwise a very fine set of arguably the most influential and important nineteenth century tales of the Christmas season. Housed in a felt-lined, quarter black morocco clamshell case, smooth curved spine lettered in gilt.
Following the overwhelming success of A Christmas Carol in 1843, Dickens embarked upon the Christmas Books project, seeking to marshal "the Carol philosophy ... [in order to] strike a sledgehammer blow" for England's lower classes. He continued publishing the Christmas Books throughout the 40s, and the stories became mainstays of Dickens's public reading tours of the 1850s and 1860s.
A Christmas Carol was an instant success, reportedly selling all 6,000 copies of the first edition on the first day of publication, and Dickens went on to write four more small festive books for each successive Christmas.
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz. There is a record in the June 10 1905 issue of The Academy "Esteemed Editions of various Authors, some scarce, all in new extra leather bindings… W. Root & Son, 29-30 Eagle Street, Red Lion Street, Holborn, W.C." Root & Son are also recorded at the same address in The Literary Year-Book, 1909 (thirteenth annual volume). The British Library have five examples of bindings by Root & Son.