Most of Dicken's novels were originally published serially in monthly parts bound in illustrated paper wrappers. At the conclusion of the serial publication, the novels were generally offered as a bound volume in publishers cloth, half morocco with marbled edges or full morocco with gilt edges. A purchaser could order his own binding. These copies coud be made of unsold "parts" from the serial publication or a mix of these and new printings. Individuals also could have their own binder bind his serial copies with or without their paper covers. Generally speaking, what is on the market as "First Editions" in book form are those made from "parts" in half leather and marbled paper. Copies in the original cloth are rare because of the weak nature of cloth.
AMERICAN - US editions were usually published simultaneously with the English editions. Moreover, because of the lack of international protection of copyrights, numerous publishers produced copies as they were released, thus making identifying First Editions difficult.
HOUSEHOLD EDITION - the first collection of his work after his death in 1870. Produced by Chapman and Hall over the period 1871-1879 of 22 of his most popular works. It was intended to be affordable "being for the Victorian hearth and home". They were printed in a quarto size (rather than octavo) with double columns and newly commissioned illustrations. Harper and Brothers produced an American edition with 16 volumes between 1872 and 1877 illustrated by American artists, including Thomas Nast.
ILLUSTRATIONS - The illustrations are a major part of the appeal of his work. Most of his major novels contain illustrations by George Cruikshank and H. B. Brown (also known as "Phiz"). "Great Expectations" and "Hard Times" contained none at first publication. Dickens had a hand in their creation offering suggestions for scenes and placement in the volume. The illustrations were printed as engravings on paper different from the text and inserted into the text after sewing of the signatures. This paper was subject to "foxing" and browning, more so than the text paper.