London: Chapman & Hall, 1844 [i.e. 1843]. Octavo, original full brown cloth with leaf border stamped in blind to boards and central wreath design with title stamped in gilt on front board, spine stamped in gilt, yellow endpapers, all edges gilt. Half title printed in green, title page printed in red and green, copyright page printed in green. Hand-colored frontispiece, three full-page hand-colored plates, and four black-and-white tailpiece vignettes by John Leech. Two pages of advertisements at rear. Gift inscription, dated Christmas 1843, on verso of front fly leaf. Hand-colored bookplate of Mitchell S. Buck tipped onto front pastedown, bookplate of Bob Stillwell to pastedown of chemise. Expert repair to hinges, hint of wear to spine head. Housed in a custom half red morocco slipcase and chemise.
First edition, in the first impression, first issue binding, of Dickens’s Christmas classic. Written in a mere six weeks at a low point in Dickens's career, and published at his own expense, A Christmas Carol revived Dickens's fortunes, establishing a robust market for Christmas gift books that survives to this day. The characters of Scrooge and Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, are immediately recognizable even to those who've never read a word of Dickens: “‘God bless us every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all. He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.” One of Dickens’ favorite artists, John Leech would produce the illustrations for all his Christmas books. This copy matches Walter E. Smith’s fourth state (formerly called “trial issue”), with red and green title page dated 1844 and yellow endpapers, the rarest of the four variants (Charles Dickens in Cloth, Part Two, 25-6). Smith notes the inaccuracy of the term “trial issue,” as copies with the green and red title page were available on the open market. The binding of this copy matches that of the first impression, first issue binding as described by William B. Todd (“Dickens’s Christmas Carol,” The Book Collector, 1961). This copy appears to be an unrecorded variant: Todd does not note copies of this binding with both the green and red title page and the yellow endpapers but, according to Smith, “the priority of green endpapers with this title page is deduced as a matter of logical sequence rather than from any substantial direct evidence. It is not improbable that at some stage in the binding, the use of yellow and green end[papers] overlapped to some extent.” Following all points of the first edition according to Calhoun and Heaney with the text uncorrected, including “Stave I” on page . Smith II:4. A near-fine, unusually bright copy of the first edition in a rare variant.