Monday, May 21, 2012

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens, with fifty-nine illustrations by J. Barnard.  Hardcover book with decorative boards published by Chapman and Hall (no date indicated).

They don’t make books like this anymore… actually they do, but maybe not with this sort of gold embossed lettering on the cover (?).  Let’s face it, you can’t down load something like this… actually, you can, but down loading it voids any chance of sensually caressing the embossed cover and the beautiful (?) smell of old books is replaced by no smell at all. 

Like a lot of books of the 1800s, Martin Chuzzlewit was originally published in serial form beginning in 1843, with the final installment published in 1844.  I guess it was sort of like the Lord of the Rings movies… but with less Hobbits.  The book caused a certain amount of controversy at the time as it was considered anti American… sort of like Osama Bin Laden… actually nothing at all like Osama Bin Laden, but I’m sure you get the idea.  I’ve never read this particular title or indeed any Dickens except for Great Expectations... and the reason I have read Great Expectations is that they forced me to do this at school (yes, “forced”).  Why I haven’t read any of Mr. Dickens’s other books, I am at a loss to explain.  Maybe I was scarred by the experience of the high school dissection, or maybe I just haven’t gotten around to reading any others.  Whatever the reason, I can still appreciate this lovely book.

There’s no date listed, but by the looks of it, I would offer an educated guess of it being from the nineteenth century.  There are illustrations and these are a good indicator as to the date of publication… except of course if the book was a reprint, but by the looks of the cover and the overall condition I’m pretty certain it’s not a reprint.

I think you can see the small splits and wear to the spine hinge (see cover photo).  But this is all part of the allure of the antique book.  In the scan below I think you can see some of the foxing that is mainly around the endpapers and there is also some marks and overall wear to some of the pages.  Keeping in mind that the book is probably 130 to 150 years old, I think it’s in fairly good condition.

Why I’ve written about this book and what makes it of interest, is the reason that I bought it.  This book is not destined for ebay or Books & Collectibles (where I sell books on line), this is a shop book.  In other words, I think the book has a hands on appeal to those that are willing to put their hands on it.  I mentioned above the feel of the cover and the smell of an old book like this one.  I think the beauty lies not only in it’s appearance, feel and smell, but also in it’s history which are best viewed and experienced first hand.  A description or photographs are unable to convey these points of interest and I tend to avoid trying to sell this sort of item on line… that is unless it’s something worth $$$ and then the interwebs seems to be able to accommodate for the lack of tactile, visual and nasal experience as the scarcity/rarity of an item can encourage a sale.  It will be interesting to see how long this book sits on the shelf.

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