For Dombey and Son, Wholesale Retail & for Exportation, his seventh novel, Charles Dickens once again enlisted Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne) as his illustrator. Serialised in twenty parts (nineteen monthly instalments, the last being a "double number") from October 1846 through April 1848, published by Bradbury and Evans, differed from Dickens's previous novels in its careful planning and symmetrical composition of instalments: typically, an instalment contained three uniform chapters, the exceptions being no. 12 (September 1847: ch. 35-38) and no. 19 (really 19-20, a double-number, April 1848: ch. 58-62). Although he does not reproduce the wrapper in Chapter 16 of The Dickens Picture-Book (1910), on p. 294 J. A. Hammerton gives the frontispiece (also provided by Michael Steig in Dickens and Phiz), thirty-seven of the thirty-eight plates issued two each for every monthly part, and five so-called "character plates" from Phiz's correspondence: Little Paul, Florence, Alice, and Edith. Paul Schicke in The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens (1999) notes that Browne also supplied "the wrapper design, frontispiece, and vignette title-page" (85), for a grand total of forty-six illustrations.

Kitton chronicles the fact that all the the plates were etched in duplicate, and the greater number were drawn on quarto plates with two subjects on each. In Dombey Phiz first made use of the oblong form of illustration, all his earlier plates having been designed as uprights, often to the ruin of the subject. [Hammerton, 295]

The source of the following illustrations, a number of them colourised, is the so-called "London Edition" published by the Caxton Publishing Company, 84-86 Chancery Lane, W. C., in 1910, but in scale they are identical to the plates in the original monthly numbers. This volume, however, does not contain all of the original thirty-nine plates, even though it does provide a number of Phiz's originals in colour. The missing illustrations have been supplied from The Dickens Picture-Book (1910).


According to venerable Dickens scholar and enthusiast Walter Dexter, the original of the little mid-shipman, taking a sighting with a naval quadrant, was located outside a marine supply shop at 57 Leadenhall Street, on Dickens's walking route from his home at Doughty Street and Covent Garden past India House. In "The Uncommercial Traveller," Dickens mentions that he was accustomed to patting the figure "on one leg of his knee-shorts for old acquaintance sake" (or possibly for good luck). As of 1929, when Dexter wrote a brief commentary for The Dickensian, vol. 25, the firm had already changed premises, taking the statue to Minories, No. 23, to be "preserved from the weather inside their office" (p. 3) as a symbol of their being in trade since 1670. The figure of the mid-shipman, still brightly painted, has since been acquired by The Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London.

The 40 Plates, plus colourised versions from 1910 and working sketches

Other material, including front matter and sketches


Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). 8 coloured plates. London and Edinburgh: Caxton and Ballantyne, Hanson, 1910.

Hammerton, J. A.. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book Co., [1910].

Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U.P., 1978.

Last modified 7 August 2015