Charles Dickens at 200

Letts, Son & Sterr advertisement

extras from David Copperfield

The advertisements in the serial installments of Victorian novels tell us so much about the society into which they were received. The original Part VIII of David Copperfield includes a particularly complex advertisement, for "Letts's Diaries for 1850," which includes specimen pages and a pull-out explanation of the various diaries used as engagement calendars and for record keeping by businesses and households, for commercial and personal use. This advertisement also includes recommendations for which of Letts, Son, & Steer's diaries would be most suitable for: clergymen, physicians, solicitors and the legal profession, tourists, merchants and bankers, the army and the navy, sporting men (the betting diary), tradesmen, and mechanics. These diaries included dated pages and other printed headings with blank spaces for entry of data or observations, but they also included a wide and varied assortment of information, as listed in this advertisement, including:

An almanac with tides for the year
Bank holidays
A Jewish calendar with fasts and festivals
Weather table
British and foreign weights and measures
Interest tables
Post Office regulations
Directions for making a will
Railway fares and schedules
Birth Days of the Royal Family
House of Commons representatives

This advertisement and many like it, for other printed materials, services, and products, are now scarce, for they generally were discarded when the original serial parts were bound into one volume. When one can examine the original parts, with their advertisements and other inserts intact, the study and appreciation of these works and the times in which they appeared is greatly enriched.

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