London: Chapman and Hall, 1840, 1841. 3 volumes. First edition. With 198 drawings by George Cattermole and Hablot Browne. Royal 8vo, bound in handsome period three-quarter tan calf over marbled boards, the borders ruled in blind, the spines very handsomely decorated with wide raised bands gilt decorated, compartments decorated with gilt panel designs incorporating fine central ornamental pieces, two compartments gilt lettered over maroon morocco labels, all edges marbled. iv,306, vi, 306, vi, 426. A handsome and well preserved set, internally quite clean and fresh with very little aging, the bindings in a fine state of preservation. MASTER HUMPHREY’S CLOCK was initially an experiment on Dickens’ part. He originally intended it to be a miscellany which would contain a continuous narrative linked by reminisces of the narrator, Master Humphrey. He outlined his goals in a preliminary letter to Chapman and Hall: “To introduce a little club or knot of characters and to carry their personal histories and proceedings through the work; to introduce fresh characters constantly; to re-introduce Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller; [xxx] to write amusing essays on the various foibles of the day as they arise; to take advantage of passing events; and to vary the form of the papers by throwing them into sketches, letters from imaginary correspondents, and so forth, so as to diversify the contents as much as possible.” Dickens would use ideas from the outline of this form in several succeeding books. As the originally-conceived miscellany, MASTER HUMPHREY’S CLOCK failed to gain a substantial readership, so the project was quickly abandoned, the story transformed into a serial, and the character of Master Humphrey himself abandoned as a narrator in the midst of THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP. According to Eckel, the work was published in four distinct forms over the course of its creation: in 88 weekly parts, 30 monthly parts, a three-volume edition, and in separately bound volumes of the two stories, "The Old Curiosity Shop" and "Barnaby Rudge." The three volume sets have become scarce indeed, especially so in such a fine state of preservation. According to Eckel, this work was published in four distinct forms: in 88 weekly parts, 30 montly parts, a three-volume edition, and in separately bound volumes of the two stories, "The Old Curiosity Shop" and "Barnably Rudge." "In the latter form," he states, "all the extraneous 'Clock' matter had been expunged, but was retained in the other forms of publication." The three volume sets have become scarce indeed and especially so in such a fine state of preservation.