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Bonhams to Sell One of the World's Finest Collections of First Edition & Serial Victorian Literature
The sale of over 290 lots is expected to fetch more than $1.5 million. Photo: Bonhams.
LONDON.- Bonhams announces the sale of one of the world’s finest collections of Victorian Literature as published in original parts, and serial publications of the 18th and 19th centuries in New York on October 18th at 1pm.

The sale of over 290 lots, expected to fetch more than $1.5 million, includes the first editions of the greatest novelists of the Mid-19th century. There is an almost complete collection of Dickens’s published novels in parts; a very rare complete collection of all Trollope novels published in parts (perhaps one of the only collections in the world); the Surtees ‘Jorrocks‘ series; an extensive collection of books and correspondence relating to Ainsworth’s novel ‘The Tower of London’; 16 novels by the Irish writer Charles Lever, most published in parts in London and Dublin; 12 works by George Elliot, several in parts; 25 works by Thackeray and a plethora of novelists from 1830 to 1880. Together they form the treasure-chest that is the Jackson collection.

The Collection, however, goes wider than the Victorian novelist and includes part-works from other countries and periods, such as the second Boston edition of Shakespeare in 1807; Tusser’s Points of Husbandry, 1710, in parts; many of Ruskin’s works in parts; the Audubon octavo Quadrupeds in parts; Bibles in parts; Mrs Beeton’s Household Management, in parts; the John Martin illustrated Milton Paradise Lost 1825, all in parts; works by Browne; many by Cruikshank, Carey, A’Becket, Marryat and many others…a veritable bookman’s dream.

Although publishing a book in parts over several months began in England around 1700, after the initial burst of enthusiasm the idea went out of fashion. It was not until the 1830s that Dickens popularised this method of publishing again. He planned his novels in 19/20 monthly parts - the last part being a double part. This technique allowed him to write/publish a chapter a month, each chapter containing sufficient action and excitement to keep his adoring public ready for the next instalment. The cost of each part at a shilling was affordable for the working man and gave the author a regular income from his writing.

The educated British public loved the excitement of reading novels in this form and soon the foremost fiction writers and their publishers adopted serial publication as their preferred way of marketing their novels. Of course, at the end of the serials they published the completed work in book form, giving themselves a second commercial return. Although produced in quite large numbers the survival of the books in part form is very low since like newspapers and magazines today, there seemed no sense in preserving the parts sets of the books, particularly when the novel in book form was released by the publishers. This natural attrition, from their disposability and the wear and tear that paper-wrappered copies received when being read, has resulted in relatively few sets of these novels in parts, surviving from the 19th century, and yet fewer still in the condition of the copies in the Jackson Collection.

This Collection was formed in America over the last 35 years, and is one of perhaps 3 or 4 extensive part collections formed in the post war period, the majority in America, most of which have already come to the market or been gifted to an institution in the last few decades. Without doubt the Jackson collection is the finest, not just in the extent and number of books published in parts, but in the rarity of many of the books (many have not been seen in the open market for 30 years). More remarkably the collection is in extremely fine, and often pristine condition, making this group of books particularly special. The Jacksons pursued these books in auctions, from collectors and from book-dealers all over the world, upgrading the quality of copies when appropriate, and rejecting the poorer examples that mainly come to the market.

Tom Lamb of Bonhams Book, Map and Manuscript Department, says: “The Jackson Collection is both a labour of love in its formation, and a love affair with the 19th century novel, a rare case of adoration for the original form and condition of these books….. to feel, smell and see the pristine covers and paper of these novels is a pleasure in itself, much as a car enthusiast would marvel at a Bugatti Royale. Bonhams are delighted to have the opportunity to present this intriguing and exciting collection to a new generation of bibliophiles.

“We are very fortunate that Professor John Sutherland, Emeritus Professor of English at University College London, and an acknowledged specialist on serial publication, will be talking on the subject on Monday June 6th at 6.30pm at Bonhams, 101 New Bond St. His lecture is entitled ‘Make ‘em cry, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em wait. Dickens, Thackeray and Trollope. The Golden Age of Serial Publication.’ ”

SPECIAL VIEWING of highlights in London, New Bond St Saleroom, June 5th - 7th

LECTURE: Monday 6th June by Professor John Sutherland at 6.30pm, Bonhams New Bond St - ‘Make ‘em cry, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em wait. Dickens, Thackeray and Trollope. The Golden Age of Serial Publication.’



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