Old Curiosity Shop tp 1872 Old Curiosity Shop tp 1874


Title-page vignettes for the Household Edition volumes of Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop by Harper & Bros., New York (1872) 7.5 x 5.6 cm (vignetted), and Chapman & Hall, London (1874) 7.5 x 5.9 cm.

Both Worth and Green have departed from the caricatural style of the original serial's illustrations by George Cattermole and the other members of the team of illustrators whom Dickens described as "The Clock Works." The effects for which the Household Edition illustrators strive in these half-page and occasional full-page wood-engravings veer sharply away from the antiquarian and caricatural styles of Samuel Williams, Daniel Maclise, Phiz, and Cattermole, and towards the new realism of the 1860s. Moreover, the dark plates of John Franklin in Ainsworth's Old St. Paul's (1841) and Hablot Knight Browne in Mervyn Clitheroe have influenced these later illustrators, especially Green. In his much longer program, Worth focuses as much on Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness as he does on Little Nell and her grandfather; moreover, he minimizes the importance of Kit Nubbles, Mrs. Jarley, and the Brasses, and has only four illustrations set in the curiosity shop itself. His final plate reinforces the novel's Eliza Doolittle-Henry Higgins romance in the marriage of Dick and the Marchioness.

Whereas Green apparently establishes in the importance of the Old Curiosity Shop as the principal setting of the first movement of the novel in the initial illustrations, Worth seems to have decided to present the co-dependent relationship between Nell and her grandfather and Quilp's unnatural desire for the child as the central issues of this novel. Although Worth's sharp wood-engravings lack much of the comedy of the original serial illustrations, the volume (the first in the Harper and Brothers' Household Edition series) effectively served its chief function in 1872: it enabled its New York publishers to establish American copyright since they had employed a well-known American illustrator.

Cattermole's Frontispiece: Grandfer Trent and Little Nell (25 April 1840)

The style of the leading member of the team of illustrators, George Cattermole, was ideally to the subject of the quaint interior of the London antique shop that gives the Dickens's fourth novel its title, The door being opened, the child addressed the old man as her grandfather, and told him the little story of our companionship.

Relevant Illustrations from various editions

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop in Master Humphrey's Clock. Illustrated by Phiz, George Cattermole, Samuel Williams, and Daniel Maclise. 3 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury and Evans, 1849.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. XII.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Thomas Worth. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Bros., 1872. I.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Charles Green. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by William H. C. Groome. The Collins' Clear-Type Edition. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1900.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. V.

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII.

Kitton, Frederic George. "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne), a Memoir, Including a Selection From His Correspondence and Notes on His Principal Works. London, George Redway, 1882.

Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Matz, B. W., and Kate Perugini. Character Sketches from Dickens. Illustrated by Harold Copping. London: Raphael Tuck, 1924.

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

Last modified 29 August 2020