1844 American First Edition “A Christmas Carol” Charles Dickens

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We sold this item at auction for $3,400
 in May, 2023.

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Published in Philadelphia by Carey & Hart in 1844, this edition of “A Christmas Carol” marks the first American printing of Dickens’ beloved ghost story.

Charles Dickens penned “A Christmas Carol” during the autumn of 1843 at his residence in Gad’s Hill Place, Kent. Inspired by his own childhood experiences and a desire to address social issues, Dickens crafted the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation with fervor. The cozy atmosphere of Gad’s Hill, coupled with Dickens’ creative genius, gave birth to one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time.

Historical Context

The publication of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843 marked a turning point in Charles Dickens‘ career, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era. This particular edition, printed by Carey & Hart in 1844, reflects the widespread popularity of the novella in America during Dickens’ lifetime.

Unique Features

What sets this edition apart is its rare “gift” binding, a testament to the publisher’s commitment to producing high-quality editions for discerning readers.

The rib-grain blue buff cloth is adorned with gilt decoration on the front cover, featuring a double-rule border and frame made of floral and other tools. The spine is elegantly gilt in close imitation of the Chapman and Hall design, adding to the collectible book’s visual appeal.

Illustrations and Design

Hand-colored illustrations, including Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball and Marley’s Ghost, enhance this copy and bring some of Dicken’s most famous characters to life.

Notably, the edition includes a frontis by P.S. Duvat, depicting Scrooge’s Third Visitor, and The Last of the Spirits, both hand-colored by Carey & Hart. It’s worth noting that pages 88-91/92-93 are bound in backward, adding a unique quirk to this edition.

Copyright Controversy

During Dickens’ American tour in the previous year, he advocated fervently for international copyright protection, but to no avail. Consequently, both this volume and the Harper’s pamphlet of the same year were pirated editions, lifting not only Dickens’ text but also Leech’s illustrations and various design elements.

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