(ST18705) THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN. CHARLES DICKENS.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.

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Estelle Doheny's Copy of Dickens' Christmas Books in Cloth: In Unsurpassable Condition, and Very Possibly the Finest Set in the World

THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE CHIMES; THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH; THE BATTLE OF LIFE; [and] THE HAUNTED MAN.

(London: Chapman and Hall (first three); Bradbury & Evans (last two), 1843; 1845 [but 1844]; 1846 [but 1845]; 1846; 1848). 170 x 107 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 1/4"). Five separately published works in five volumes. FIRST EDITIONS, "Carol" in FIRST STATE (closest interval between blind-stamped left border and left extremity of gilt wreath being 15 mm., "D" in Dickens on front cover in perfect condition); "Chimes" with First State of the vignette title page; "Cricket," and "Battle" in Second State ("Haunted" with no issue points).

Publisher's cloth ("Carol" in light reddish brown, the others in scarlet), decorated in gilt and blind, smooth spines with gilt lettering, "Carol" with green endpapers, the rest with yellow glazed endpapers. Housed together in a red cloth chemise inside a fine early 20th century crimson crushed morocco pull-off case by Zaehnsdorf (signed on inside top of box) designed to look like five volumes with raised bands and gilt titling. An aggregate total of 53 woodcut illustrations in the texts, four engraved vignette title pages (the one in "Haunted" tinted), and eight engraved plates (the four in "Carol" nicely hand-colored), the illustrations by John Tenniel, John Leech, D. Maclise, and others. Front pastedowns with morocco bookplate of Estelle Doheny; front free endpaper of "Carol" and "Cricket" with ink owner inscription of C. Wethered, the first dated 13 January 1844; front free endpaper of "Chimes" inscribed "Margaret Beasley / with her Nephew's love / 1845." Eckel 110-25; Smith II, 4-6, 8-9; Todd, "The Book Collector" (1961), pp. 449-54 (for "Carol"). ◆Backstrip of "Carol" with a breath of sunning, "Cricket" and "Haunted" just very slightly cocked, faint offsetting to title page of "Haunted Man," but these imperfections merely trifling. AN UNSURPASSABLY FINE SET, everything smooth, sharp, and shining, with virtually no perceptible wear, and THE CONTENTS IMMACULATE.

From the splendid library of Estelle Doheny, these volumes comprise what could easily be the finest set in the world of the first editions of Dickens' beloved Christmas novels, beginning with the immortal "A Christmas Carol," the story of the redemption of the cold-hearted miser Ebenezer Scrooge. Proclaimed by Eckels "the greatest Christmas book from the pen of any man," it was a critical and commercial success of the highest order; the work is not only finely written, but its sentiments had great appeal for Victorian taste. Our copy has all of the text first issue points listed in Smith and Eckel, but those bibliographers disagree as to whether yellow (Smith) or green (Eckel) endpapers have priority. William Todd distrusted all internal issue points beyond uncorrected text, including color of the endpapers. He believed the most reliable way to determine priority of issue was by studying the location of the gilt wreath on the cover, which was stamped by a single machine. He says, "This desideratum is a single point, one encompassing all the others, and, if it is to be a sign of issue, the one last appearing in the course of manufacture." The brass stamp with the cover design shifted to the left and developed imperfections as time went on, so Todd assigned priority to volumes with the most distance (14-15 mm.) between the right edge of the blind-stamped border next to the front joint, and the left-most extremity of the gilt wreath and with a perfect "D" in the author's name within that wreath. By these criteria, our copy is a first issue. As a result of the warm reception of "A Christmas Carol," Dickens launched a series of four further Christmas books. "The Chimes" was described by Dickens to his friend (and biographer) John Foster as striking "a blow for the poor," while "The Cricket on the Hearth" presented domestic life in the ideal Victorian home. "The Battle of Life" is a love story with a happy ending (a Victorian rom-com for the holidays), and "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain" finds another Scrooge-like figure learning about the spirit of Christmas from a ghost. Dickens' audience—and later collectors—never lost their appetite for the beloved yuletide tales, in which good triumphs over evil in the spirit of the season. Estelle Doheny (1875-1958) was one of the most distinguished women book collectors of the 20th century. The wife of oil tycoon Edward Doheny, she began collecting books in the 1920s, eventually amassing a library of approximately 7,000 books and 1,300 manuscripts. Her interests included illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, and Western Americana in addition to fine and historic bindings, and her collection of fore-edge paintings was the most extensive ever assembled. In the summer of 1931, at the height of the Depression, she spent an average of $1,000 per day on books--something that would have shocked both the miser Scrooge and his crusading creator. Like virtually all sets of the Christmas books, this one was assembled over the years, but, remarkably, "Christmas Carol" and "Cricket on the Hearth" have been together since C. Wethered acquired the second title in 1845--nearly 180 years ago. And our "Chimes" was originally, as intended, presented as a Christmas gift. The handsome case by Zaehnsdorf, likely commissioned for Mrs. Doheny, has kept these copies in almost unbelievably fine condition.
(ST18705)

Price: $75,000.00

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