Browne, Hablot Knight. Hard Cover. London: Chapman & Hall, 1859. 1st Edition. Very Good.
Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. First edition, first issue, with page 213 incorrectly numbered, signature "b" present on the List of Plates (ix), and all other first issue points called for by Smith. Beautifully bound in 19th century three-quarter dark green morocco and green boards, with five raised bands to the spine, decorated and lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, pale pink marbled endpapers. Very good or better, with light toning to the spine, some rubbing to the extremities, bright gilt, former owner's bookplate to the front pastedown, spine very lightly starting inside the front cover, otherwise sturdy binding, spotting to the endpapers, frontispiece and vignette title page, some light and scattered spotting to the otherwise clean pages, bright plates lacking the usual toning. Overall, a handsome copy. Smith I 13. As Hatton and Cleaver note in their bibliography, A Tale of Two Cities has "practically no 'points' sufficiently outstanding to distinguish the earlier printings." However, both H&C and Smith agree that copies with the misprint on page 213 corrected and lacking the signature "b" on page ix are decidedly second printings. This copy does indeed have these points in the earliest state. A Tale of Two Cities is one of Dickens' most popular novels and begins with the iconic opening line "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It tells the intertwined stories of several families in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution of 1788-1789; in his preface, Dickens explains his choice of the Revolution as a backdrop to his tale: "it has been one of my hopes to add something to the popular and picturesque means of understanding that terrible time." Prior to the publication of this first book edition, A Tale of Two Cities was published in Dickens' weekly journal All the Year Round from April-November 1859 and issued in eight monthly parts from June-December 1859. Notably, A Tale of Two Cities was the final collaboration between Dickens and his popular illustrator H. K. Browne (Phiz), whose collaboration spanned nearly a quarter of a century and produced ten major novels.