Collecting Mark Twain: A History and Three New Paths
By Kevin MacDonnell (Mac Donnell Rare Books)
Copyright © 1998 Firsts Magazine, Inc.
Used with permission
I. A History of Twain-Collecting
II. The Leap to Fame
III. The Primary First Editions of Mark Twain
IV. Huck Finn Among the Issue-Mongers
V. Some New Paths in Twain-Collecting
VI. A Mark Twain Reference Shelf
Mark Twain's world-wide appeal endures because his writings appeal to very different people in very different ways. Many of his contemporary readers saw him as a sort of genial corn-pone clown, a grandfatherly figure with a benign wit, and for better or worse, this is the image that persists in the popular mind today. Literary critics are drawn to Twain because his works herald the beginning of modern American literature. Scholars of American culture admire him as an incisive social critic. Biographers view him with fascination as one of the first American celebrities, forced to balance the dualities of a private life that was at sharp variance from his public persona. That public persona persists for many who have never read HUCK FINN. They know Twain only through his oft-quoted --and often misattributed-- aphorisms. If they do know anything of HUCK FINN, they accept the movie versions of his masterpiece --a sentimental paean to a lost idyllic collective American childhood. And yet, despite the distortion inherent in his public image, he remains a larger than life figure in the pantheon of American literary giants because he is widely embraced as a quintessential American icon, a symbol that embodies all the positive cultural attributes that Americans project on themselves. Readers are quick to empathize with the ironic stance in his writings, which usually involves someone like ourselves (or so we like to think) struggling to resolve the basic conflicts that we all face in ways that are uniquely American: cynicism tempered with humor, self-doubt balanced by Calvinistic pride, and a genuine compassion for people that does not preclude contempt for the outrageous foibles of society. Twain knew the human heart, and human hearts respond.
Readers of his works collect Mark Twain for the same reasons they collect any author --they enjoy owning first or significant editions of writings that connect with their own lives. That enjoyment is enhanced by knowing the story behind the publication of a book: how the author came to write that particular book, the creative process and evolution of the text, how it found its way into print, what was involved in the physical production of the volume itself, what the cultural context of the text was to its time and place, and what kind of contemporary reception it received. Books record the pulse of human existence. Their texts reflect the collective inner lives of those who preceded us, and they exist at several levels --as physical objects, as texts, as concrete icons, as abstract symbols-- and the more levels at which a book is experienced (or a rock, for that matter) the more that book-collecting is integrated with the collector's inner life.
For collectors of Mark Twain first editions the thrill of the hunt is magnified by the fact that his first editions, with a few notable exceptions, were produced in relatively large numbers, making him one of the easier nineteenth authors to collect with a reasonable expectation of completing a collection. While some of his first editions can cost thousands of dollars, most cost hundreds, and even those that cost thousands in fine condition in the first states, can be found for hundreds when in later states and in less than perfect condition. Collectors are usually astonished that they can buy most of Twain's first editions for the same prices they'd expect to pay for widely collected contemporary authors (some of whom could still end up footnotes in the literary histories of the next century). Building a comprehensive collection of first editions is virtually impossible today for collectors of Whitman, Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne, some of whose works are extremely rare and expensive, while some others don't appear for sale at any price. Even for more affordable nineteenth century authors whose works are out of fashion --like Longfellow, Holmes, Howells, or Whittier-- there are some books that simply never appear in the market. Unlike most other major nineteenth century literary authors, Twain's works were generally issued in colorful pictorial bindings, or with lavish illustrations that were sometimes closely supervised by Twain himself. And Twain wrote in a wide variety of forms: novels, stories, plays, sketches, political diatribes, after-dinner speeches, travel narratives, juveniles, essays, book reviews, biography, autobiography, and letters. The availability, beauty, and variety of his first editions makes collecting Twain a rewarding pursuit.
That pursuit had already begun as early as 1885 when a rare book dealer in New York, Leon & Brothers, issued the first rare book catalogue ever devoted exclusively to American authors. It included a listing of thirteen of Twain's first editions for sale. THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG was offered at $1.25 --at a time when new books sold for $1 or $2. Today, that book would be offered for least $12,500, while new books average $15 to $30. The most expensive book in 1885, THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, was $3.00, and HUCK FINN, just published, was priced at $2.75. Clearly, Twain collecting was in its infancy, with prices reflecting the publication prices of each title rather than the relative rarity of each first edition. And books were not the only thing being collected.
As early as 1884, Twain was complaining of requests for his autograph, prompting George W. Cable, a friend and fellow author, to secretly send out one hundred and fifty letters to their mutual friends, asking that each one write Twain a letter requesting his autograph, timing them to arrive on April Fool's Day. By 1893, Twain was well aware of the collectors' market for his works, and proposed to his English publisher, Chatto & Windus, that they print a limited edition of one of his poems and offer it to collectors. Relatively few people, then or now, were aware that Twain wrote poetry, and the publisher wisely declined. About ten years later Twain saw his autograph being offered in a catalogue that arrived in the mail, and was furious (and perhaps secretly flattered) that somebody would sell his clipped signature for the princely sum of $5. It is said he thereafter would only sign books on the inside front cover to prevent people from cutting out his signature and selling it. Most of the books Twain inscribed during the last ten years of his life were indeed inscribed on the inside front cover, while most of the books he inscribed earlier were inscribed on end papers, flyleaves, or half-titles. Despite his misgivings, Twain was generous to people requesting his autograph in books or on menus, and he once allowed a collector (one Reverend Powers) to send him his entire collection, a few books at a time, each with a question on the end paper where Twain was expected to write his answer beneath. Twain dutifully complied, but some questions were insipid and others were unintentionally insulting, with the result that as the good Reverend sent each batch, Twain's answers got shorter and shorter. The Reverend Powers' collection was sold at auction in 1911, and they still surface in the market from time to time.
Autograph collecting is beyond the scope of this article, but a note of warning is in order. Unlike many modern celebrities, Twain generously complied with most autograph requests, and he produced a mass of correspondence, legal documents, and manuscripts. Machlis' UNION LIST records roughly ten thousand surviving letters written by Twain. That figure does not include his manuscripts, most of which survive, or autograph cards that he signed on request. Consider that Twain is estimated to have written at least five times this many letters during more than fifty years of active letter-writing, and that very few people who got letters from Twain threw them away. Consider also that Twain has attracted more than his share of forgers, beginning in the 1920s and continuing to the present day. Putting aside the issue of forgeries, and allowing for letters that have been in the market more than once during the last twenty years, more than five hundred genuine autograph letters and documents have appeared at auction alone in the last twenty years, and at least half as many more have been sold by dealers. Autograph collectors should know that his autograph material, while in great demand, is not in short supply. Unlike his books, prices for his autographs have been volatile, bouncing up and down in recent years. The most significant runs of his letters, as well as several major autograph collections, have appeared at Christie's and Sotheby's, and autograph collectors would be wise to study closely the annual auction indexes, and subscribe to the catalogues of those two auction firms (and others).
While Twain's autographs are attractive and plentiful in the market, the vast majority of Twain collecting has been focused on his first editions. During the last months of Twain's life, a rare book dealer, Merle Johnson, began his bibliography of Twain's works and sent the manuscript to Harper Brothers for approval. He concluded his contract negotiations in May, 1910, just one month after Twain's death, and his bibliography appeared that November in an edition of 500 copies, pointing the direction for Twain collectors for the next quarter century, until Johnson revised his bibliography just before his death in 1935. Johnson's assistant, Jake Blanck, saw the revised edition through the press, and in 1957, as editor of THE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE (BAL), he published what is now the standard bibliography of Twain's works as part of the second volume of that nine-volume monumental guide to American literature of the nineteenth century. Johnson had included Twain's magazine appearances in his bibliography, but only a few advanced collectors strayed from collecting first editions. Some have collected Twain's first magazine appearances, especially coveting the May 1, 1852 issue of 'The Carpet-Bag' containing his first published story, or the November, 1866 issue of 'Harper's New Monthly Magazine' containing his first writing to appear in a nationally circulated journal, or the 1884/5 issues of 'The Century Magazine' containing several chapters of HUCK FINN, which appeared prior to the book. BAL gave hints of some new directions in Twain collecting, by listing English and Canadian editions overlooked by Johnson, but most collectors, then and now, have "followed the flag," conforming to the tradition of collecting the first American editions of American authors. Some have collected the English or Canadian editions when they could be proved to be the true first edition, or in cases where they contained first printings of some stories, but the American first editions are the quarry that remain firmly in the crosshairs of Twain collectors. Next month, we will suggest some new paths for those who seek the thrill of the hunt.
In the morning hours of January 9, 1851, a small fire started in a grocery store in a sleepy little town perched on the banks of the Mississippi River. The flames were quickly extinguished, but not before scaring the wits out of an office boy in the newspaper office next door --he grabbed a broom, a mallet, a wash-pan and a dirty rag and scurried out the door, lugging his precious cargo to safety -- about a half mile away by his witless reckoning.
Unfortunately for that hapless young man, his sixteen-year-old office mate stayed behind and wrote up a brief but brutally funny account of the episode that appeared a week later in the newspaper. At the end of the one-paragraph squib that ran under the headline 'A Gallant Fireman,' the discombobulated printer's devil returns breathless after the excitement is over, and imagining himself a hero, exclaims to all who might listen, "If that thar fire hadn't bin put out, thar'd a' bin the greatest confirmation of the age!" Readers of that Hannibal, Missouri newspaper no doubt relished the blunt humor of a local news report righting on a good-natured coward mistaking himself for a hero, and they would have been disappointed if the piece had not been delivered with a punch-line, in this case a malapropism that was a staple of frontier humor.
More than fifty years later, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the boy who stayed behind, still recalled details of the dust-up that provided him with the raw materials for his first published writing, even though the experience had not kindled his desire to become an author. More than a year passed before he would appear in print again, and this time it was a longer piece, his first published story-- 'The Dandy Frightening the Squatter.' Signing the piece with his initials, "S. L. C." he sent it to a Boston comic newspaper, 'The Carpet-Bag,' edited by the humorist Benjamin P. Shillaber who was already well-known for his comic creation, "Mrs. Ruth Partington." Years later, the illustration of Aunt Polly in the first edition of THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER was copied directly from a portrait of the popular Mrs. Partington that had adorned one of Shillaber's books. Perhaps the mature Twain was acknowledging his roots; at any rate contemporary readers would have instantly recognized Partington's familiar visage and made the connection.
The May 1, 1852 issue of Shillaber's paper carried Clemens' story, and it was obvious this teenager had talent. The story relates how a dandy, fresh off a steamboat, tries to impress some young ladies by pulling a practical joke on a squatter he finds loafing near the steamboat landing. Brandishing an enormous Bowie knife and two pistols, the dandy confronts the loafer, pretending that he has mistaken him for some long-sought enemy who will now be justly punished for some past misdeed. The dandy threatens the squatter, expecting the backwoodsman to beg for mercy, but the gag backfires. Without a word, the squatter sends the city-slicker backwards into the River with one well-placed jab between the eyes. The local bumpkin then displays a keen frontier wit with a remark he makes to the dripping dandy who retreats in humiliation. The ladies, duly impressed, render an impromptu verdict, and award the knife and pistols to the squatter. The theme of the river, the contrasting characters of the "civilized" dandy and the "backwoods" squatter, the reversal of a practical joke, the vivid narrative language, the authentic dialogue, and the prompt administration of frontier justice were all elements that would reappear in Clemens' works during his entire career.
Clemens continued writing comic pieces for newspapers for the next thirteen years, polishing his style while leading a peripatetic existence. After a brief stint as a typesetter for his brother Orion's newspaper, he visited the great cities of the eastern United States (1853-4), returned to the Midwest to do more newspaper work (1854-6), became a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River (1857-61), had an extraordinarily brief career as a Confederate "irregular" (1861), and joined his brother in Nevada (1861-4), finally settling in San Francisco in 1864. During these early years he witnessed an astonishing variety of American cultures that would later provide him with the authentic contexts for his greatest works. Many critics credit Clemens' childhood as the primary inspiration of his work, and while it was certainly a major source that provided the settings for much of his best work, his characters, themes, and literary style did not evolve until the 1850s and 1860s out of his exposure to a broad spectrum of American life that was far more diverse than what most contemporary Americans witnessed in their entire lives.
At least once during his western travels, Clemens met Charles Farrar Browne, who had labored as a typesetter at 'The Carpet-Bag' when Clemens' first story appeared in its pages. Browne, under the pen-name Artemus Ward, had gone on to become a successful comedian, lecturer, and author, one of several popular comics soon to become known as the Phunny Phellows. The Phunny Phellows fed their Victorian audiences a bland diet of simple gags, sprinkled liberally with malapropisms, terrible puns, comic misspellings, blatant racism, stock characters, and shop-worn topical jokes. Toward the end of 1865 Ward invited Clemens, who by that time had been writing under the name Mark Twain for nearly two years, to contribute a story to Ward's forthcoming collection of western travel sketches, ARTEMUS WARD, HIS TRAVELS. Twain decided to submit his own version of a decidedly unphunny --but very funny-- western story he had heard in the mining camps. It arrived in New York City too late for inclusion in Ward's book, and was forwarded to a local newspaper. Although Twain was bitter at the time, this seeming misfortune proved to be his big break.
Newspaper readers who opened their 'New York Saturday Press' on November 18, 1865 (the final issue of that ill-fated paper!) were startled by a story that leapt off the page at them like no tall- tale before it. No Phunny Phellow would or could have served up a story this way. The tale itself was one that had been told many times before around campfires, a typical southwestern yarn righting around a practical joke involving a remarkable frog named Dan'l Webster. Dan'l's proud owner, a compulsive gambler by the name of Jim Smiley, cajoles a simple-looking fellow into betting against his wonderful frog in a jumping contest, but the stranger doesn't happen to have a frog on him. Smiley, smelling a sucker and sure of success, hurries off to catch a frog for the innocent stranger, unaware that in his absence the stranger fills Dan'l Webster with lead buckshot, turning the tables on the clever gambler in a way that faintly echoed the somewhat less sophisticated method employed by the squatter in dealing with the dandy. By the way, this caper probably could not be pulled off today. We understand that Smiley's descendants, by consistently marrying up, have gradually gotten smarter with each generation!
[Author's note: This article originally appeared in 'Firsts Magazine' which is published by Robin H. Smiley, and edited by his wife Kathryn. This last sentence was included in the original manuscript of this article as a joke on Robin, and as a sort of test to see how closely he was reading this piece; Kathryn exercised her editorial authority to retain it in the published version, and so it is retained here.]
In Twain's telling of the jumping frog story, few of the traditional humorous elements are present, and the plot is advanced in a deceptively complex literary manner using the framing device of a naive narrator who is himself tricked into being buttonholed by a deadpan western character, Simon Wheeler, who in turn actually tells the tale, seemingly oblivious to its humor. Wheeler's meandering style is full of apparent irrelevancies, but along the way the characters are nicely developed and assume almost three- dimensional form. The meandering is not pointless. Woven into the plot are an intelligent dog named Andrew Jackson, a horse, a Parson, and at the last moment Wheeler embarks on the story of a one-eyed cow with no tail, but the narrator, at wit's end, excuses himself and escapes, bringing the entire story to an abrupt close.
The contrast between the educated narrator and the local frontiersman who bends his ear is reinforced by the opposing characters of the supposedly cagey Jim Smiley and the supposedly innocent stranger. Even the names of the frog and the dog draw attention to the contrast between Eastern civilization and the Western frontier. The story itself didn't matter; the humor and literary art flowed naturally from the ironic framing device and the carefully preserved deadpan delivery, both indicative of the genius for structure and language that would mark Twain's oral and written styles his entire career.
Immediately, newspapers across the country began reprinting 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' and with every reprinting Twain's fame spread further and the demand for more stories increased. A year later, in December, 1866, Twain boarded a steamer in San Francisco, crossed the Isthmus of Nicaragua, arrived in New York in January, and spent the next several months giving lectures and searching for a publisher for a collection of his short stories that would capitalize on his new-found celebrity.
THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY, AND OTHER SKETCHES was being advertised for sale by April 25, 1867, and within five days the entire first printing of 1,000 copies had been bound. Twain sent a copy in blue cloth to his mother on May 1. Twenty days later a second printing of 552 copies were bound up for sale, and the book was reprinted in 1868, 1869, and 1870. During that time Twain and the publisher got into a dispute over their respective ownership of the printed copies, the printing plates, and the copyright. Finally, in December of 1870, after threatening a lawsuit, Twain reached a settlement in which he paid the publisher $600 (which he claimed was the amount actually owed to him by the publisher), and an additional $800. In return he became owner of the copyright, the printing plates, some unused paper, and all unsold copies. By that time 4,076 copies had been printed and bound, and 250 unbound copies remained, as well as 50 bound copies. Twain, already the victim of a Canadian pirate who had published a cheap edition, melted down the plates and immediately proposed a revised edition in wrappers to another publisher, who declined.
In those days, the sale of 4,000 copies in less than four years was a respectable number, but not a wild success, and this can be attributed in part to the format of the book. Unlike most collections of comic sketches published in the 1860s, Twain's first book was small in size and completely unillustrated. Other humor volumes of the day were either cloth-bound books generously illustrated with comic drawings, or extremely cheap paperbacks -- Twain's book was neither. But this unassuming volume (and its English yellow-back piracy) had brought Twain's writings to the attention of a larger and more easterly situated reading public than those already familiar with his widely scattered newspaper sketches. It had served its purpose, for by the time Twain was getting ready to melt down those hard-won plates, he had already seen his second book through the press, and watched it become a best seller.
Unlike Dan'l Webster, Twain had no buckshot holding him down. If his first book had been a leap toward fame, his second book would send him full steam before a world-wide audience. Barely a month after THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG appeared, he climbed aboard the ocean steamer 'Quaker City' along with a large group of wealthy American tourists on a pilgrimage to visit Europe and the Holy Land. During the five month voyage Twain wrote burlesque accounts of his travels for several newspapers, and upon his return was offered a contract for a book by a subscription book publisher in Hartford. Twain had admired the gaudy appearance and aggressive marketing of subscription books, and was well-aware of the potential profits that could be made publishing in that format. His second book bore no resemblance to his first.
When THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, OR THE NEW PILGRIMS' PROGRESS appeared in July, 1869, it was an imposing tome the size of a desk dictionary, heavily illustrated, with wide margins, set in large widely-spaced type, available in a variety of attractive but cheaply manufactured bindings, and priced at thrice the price of the average new book. The heft of the book, as with all subscription books, gave the buyer a sense of getting more for his money. It was not available in bookstores, and was only sold door to door by subscription agents who were supplied by the publisher with a prospectus that displayed samples of the bindings, the text, and the illustrations. The subscription formula was a successful one, and in the next six months 39,000 copies of this book were sold for $3.50 to $5.00 each. And unlike books sold only in bookstores, whose sale figures faded quickly, subscription books sometimes sold steadily for years after their initial publication because of continual promotion. Ten years after THE INNOCENTS ABROAD was first published, sales totaled 125,479 copies. In sobering contrast, THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG sold for $1, with sales going flat within four years, ending in a financial dispute in which Twain may have lost money. With this second book, a Canadian edition soon followed, as well as English editions and a European edition, and while Twain gained a huge readership from those other editions, he was paid no royalties from their sale, a situation that would vex him for many years. But he made a fortune from his royalties on the American subscription edition, and it is no wonder that nearly every one of Twain's books for the next thirty years was published and sold in this fashion. That was a wise financial decision by Twain, who would later make some terrible business investments that would eventually force him into bankruptcy, but it has proved to be a boon for collectors. A shelf of Twain first editions is far more diverse and attractive than a shelf of the works of nearly any other nineteenth century author.
The following list of Twain's primary first editions is selective. Only major works are included; the list could have been four times as long and only half as interesting. Publishers' imprints have been standardized and abbreviated; several of Twain's subscription books were issued with multiple imprints listing agents in different cities, while others are known with variant imprints; these are discussed in detail under each title. A special effort has been made to provide valid bibliographical information not included in Johnson or BAL; for routine collations and fuller physical descriptions of the books, readers should refer to those two reference works.
Where reliable documented sources exist (publisher's records, correspondence, and the books themselves) significant information, not otherwise widely known, has been provided: edition sizes, previously unrecorded binding variants, and bibliographical characteristics of previously unidentified printings, states, and issues. My conclusions about matters of bibliographical description are based on the principles expounded by Fredson Bowers and Philip Gaskell. My examples of binding and textual variants are based on copies in my own collection as well as personal examination of copies I have handled over the years as a bookseller. In a few cases where I have not personally examined a copy, I have made that clear. Years of experience have taught me that bibliographical hearsay rarely passes muster.
When examining the bibliographical evidence and publishing histories of Twain's books, it should be remembered at all times that these books were products that were mass-produced for profit. The publishers' decisions about paper, typesetting, printing, repairs, binding, and marketing of these books were driven by economic necessities. The materials used were not intended to last forever, and the processes involved in their production were not intended to preserve any sort of bibliographical record for the benefit of future students of Twain's works. It is folly to apply a rigid scientific method to things made by human beings whose behavior is not always logical, consistent, or predictable.
My use of the words "fine" and "very good" to describe condition when reporting the market values of these books also requires some explanation. Modern first edition collectors and dealers in works by contemporary authors often use these terms as absolutes. In contrast, anyone familiar with incunables would not place such a book next to a Stephen King novel and describe either one as "fine" without some discrimination. An incunable with a few marginal worm holes, some normal aging to the pigskin, some light dust on the spine, a missing end paper, some subtle warping of the spruce boards, a couple of ownership inscriptions, and some paper flaws from the manufacturing process, might be considered a fine and wonderful copy by the most fastidious connoisseur. Equivalent defects in a Stephen King first edition would be fatal. For nineteenth century books, "fine" is a shorthand term that does not equate with perfect. A book with no obvious wear, bright gilt, and a clean tight text is usually considered fine even if it does have an ownership inscription, a suggestion of rubbing at the corners, and some normal mild toning of the paper. When "very good" is applied in shorthand fashion to a nineteenth century book, it still describes an attractive copy with no defects or damage, but the book might show some signs of use, or some dust, or some fading, or some foxing in the text. Unlike some century old collectibles like stamps or coins that sometimes escape use altogether and survive in pristine condition, books by popular authors are seldom so lucky. The collector of modern first editions who is used to the challenge of seeking the best-priced fine copy of a particular book that he can find, may have to adjust his thinking when he steps back more than one hundred years in time. For Twain collectors, especially when looking for the early subscription volumes, the question is more often a decision to buy the best copy one can afford, or simply finding an acceptable copy, regardless of price.
Two special notes are appropriate, one about subscription book bindings, and the other about dust jackets. The subscription books were issued in various styles of cloth and leather bindings. Collectors should be aware that the early black cloth bindings, unlike the bindings on Twain's later books, are very hard to find in truly fine condition. Even the best copies seen nearly always show some small signs of rubbing, or tiny cracks or breaks in the cloth of the spine tips. The cloth and papers used were relatively cheap quality and become brittle with age. The leather bindings were also not always the best quality, and copies in the full sheep bindings, though produced in good numbers for some titles, rarely survive in numbers proportional to the number that were originally bound. Cracked hinges, chipping, and dry leather are the norm. The morocco bindings are only slightly more sturdy than the sheep bindings, and seal russia is rarely seen at all.
Most, if not all, of Twain's Harper's books were probably issued in dust jackets, but early collectors did not value them, and they were not often preserved, unless by accident. Johnson did not think them important enough to warrant mention, and BAL ignores them as well for different reasons: dust jackets provide dicey bibliographical evidence given that they are easily exchanged between copies. Later edition jackets are frequently married to first edition books. Fortunately, with Twain's Harper books, the earliest states of the dust jackets generally carried a box advertisement on the rear panel advertising his other books. When those ads mention books published after the date of publication of the book in hand, you can be sure you have a later state jacket, possibly the result of a marriage not made in heaven. I have noted four states of the jacket for ADAM'S DIARY, three for CAPTAIN STORMFIELD, and two each for A DOUBLE BARRELLED DETECTIVE STORY, A DOG'S TALE, EDITORIAL WILD OATS, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE, and A HORSE'S TALE, and there are no doubt others. That said, most of states I've noted are fairly early ones, and minute study of their wear, offsetting, and age spots would indicate that all of them are original with the books they are on. Clearly Harper took no pains to print the same number of jackets as books. They sometimes used left-over early jackets on later copies, and sometimes had to print new jackets for old stock as it was sold. While copies of Twain's books bring four to eight times as much when found in dust jackets, they have still been grossly undervalued far out of proportion to their relative rarity. Even so, at this late date, trying to build a complete collection of the known jackets would be an unrealistic goal. So the collector must be secure in the knowledge that a shelf of Twain first editions is a handsome shelf of books that tempts the reader, with or without dust jackets.
A final note is in order regarding some of the bibliographical notes on Twain's first editions. Broken type and textual corrections have long been accepted as evidence of priority between finished copies of Twain's books. These conclusions are reasonable in those cases where it is known that a book was produced from a single setting of standing type, but that was rarely the case with Twain's books. Instead, most of Twain's books were printed from plates produced from master molds taken from standing type, and such plates were routinely duplicated and modified in ways that render it impossible to draw sound conclusions of priority about the books they were used to produce. To further complicate matters, some of Twain's books were printed simultaneously from multiple plates by more than one printer. In next month's issue, we will focus on HUCK FINN for a detailed, and at times, mind-numbing, discussion of the vagaries of nineteenth century printing and binding methods. For many readers, some of the bibliographical notes on these individual books may result in mild abdominal distress that can only be relieved by the soothing coating action of next month's article.
THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY AND OTHER SKETCHES. New York: C. H. Webb, 1867. BAL 3310.
The author's first book consisted of twenty-seven short sketches, running the gamut from carefully crafted fiction to carelessly written newspaper skits, all riding on the coattails of the title story. The first printing of 1,000 copies was bound and ready for sale May 1, 1867. A second printing of 552 copies was bound up twenty days later.
The first printing contained an inserted ad leaf just before the title-page. It was printed separately from the sheets of the book on buff paper (sometimes called yellow), and was inserted in all copies of the first printing, but was not inserted in the second printing sheets. The sheets of the first printing had undamaged type in folio 21 and in the last lines of text on pages 66 and 198. The pages of the first printing seem slightly stiffer than the second printing, a feature that may have resulted from the pressman printing the text with the grain of the paper instead of across the grain; because the paper stock is wove rather than laid, there are no chain-lines to provide a clue. At least two copies are known with page 198 wholly unprinted, but that is more likely the result of the accidental use of waste-sheets than an issue point; such sheets may have resulted if the type for that final page of text was removed from the forme for plating or correction before the last few sheets had been printed.
The fact that Twain gave a blue copy to his mother led to the erroneous conclusion years ago that blue copies were the earliest issued. When Twain was asked years later about the book, he recalled that is was bound in blue cloth, which only reenforced that misconception. In fact, Twain gave away copies in other colors of cloth at the time of publication, and copies were bound simultaneously in green, terra cotta, dark brown, lavender, blue, deep purple, maroon, and red cloth (in roughly ascending order of rarity). It was common practice for publishers of the day to issue a book in several colors of cloth for two reasons. First, it made it easy for booksellers to arrange colorful window displays; these were the days before color posters and dust jackets were in common use. Although dust jackets were used on American books as early as 1848 (RIP VAN WINKLE, illustrated by Darley, only one copy known), none of Twain's books were issued in jackets until the 1890s. Second, it allowed buyers to choose a color that would blend best with their own Victorian decor; green, red, and terra cotta were among the most popular Victorian decorating colors. All of these colors may have made the gilt-stamped frog on the front cover restless. On most copies he sits in the lower left corner of the cover, poised as if he might leap across to the other side. But in some copies he's frozen in mid leap at the right of the cover. By applying simple logic, this of course, should be the later state -- frogs don't jump backwards, after all. In reality, there is no priority between such copies. The binder who stamped his copies incorrectly can be excused for thinking the design belonged at the right since most pictorial gilt designs in those days were stamped at the right of the covers. If collectors of today pause to reflect that bindings at that time were the product of hand-work using simple stamping machines and a minimal division of labor, such anomalies become far less significant than if they were found on the mass-produced books of the twentieth century.
The first issue is usually found worn, and unless it's a green, brown or terra cotta copy, it's usually faded, too. The hinges are prone to cracking and splitting, and rebacked or recased copies are often seen. Repaired copies fetch $2,000 to $4,000; copies with some wear or fading, but no repairs (or need for repair) bring $4,000 to $8,000. Truly fine copies are rare, and sell for $12,000 to $18,000. Second issue copies bring far less, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on their condition. Because the first edition is expensive and hard to find in collectible condition, even the 1868-1870 reprints fetch a few hundred dollars.
THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, OR THE NEW PILGRIMS' PROGRESS. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1869. BAL 3316.
Twain's first great success, this was more an anti-travel book than a travel book, as it is often described. Twain, by turns both savage and gentle, deflates the pretense of the Old World shrines as well as the Americans who worship at them. The first printing was 11,638 copies; just over 31,500 were bound during the first six months of sales, and 69,156 copies were sold during the first year of sales.
The three states of the first edition are described accurately by BAL, who notes that copies are found with mixed sheets. The changes that distinguish the three states (probably printings) of the first edition were due to corrections to the text, and in one case involved reimposition of the plates in the forme for the final gathering. As with HUCK FINN and all mass-produced books printed from electrotyped plates, changes in the text due to type wear and repair must be treated cautiously. BAL notes that some copies are found with a special dual San Francisco & Hartford imprint. These should not be confused with regular copies, all of which included San Francisco at the end of the list of cities and agents. Like many books sold in California during that period, the terminal ad leaves were usually excised from those copies since they listed prices for other books that did not include the extra cost for shipment to California that booksellers had to include in their retail mark-up. Some of those copies also had the added label of Bancroft, the publisher and bookseller whose name appeared in the imprint. Copies with the special San Francisco imprint can be properly described as a separate issue, but all three states (printings) are found with the San Francisco imprint.
The binding, like most of the subscription books that followed, was available in five standard styles: black cloth, plain edges; black cloth, gilt edges; three-quarter morocco; "library" style or "turkey morocco" which was actually a full sheep binding, and full morocco. The full morocco bindings were sometimes mentioned in the prospectuses, but the publisher's records indicate that very few were produced. In the case of this book, copies were also advertised in three-quarter calf. And, unlike most of the later subscription books, there are several binding styles that exist that were not advertised. The three-quarter morocco binding came in two distinct styles; the full morocco copies came with two different designs stamped at the right of the covers, and some copies were issued in fully gilt cloth (only two copies are recorded, one blue and one purple). A single copy survives in regular cloth, maroon in color, unbeveled boards, with the gilt designs stamped from brasses that differ from all other recorded copies; this copy may have been a trial binding, but the fact that it is on a set of third state sheets may provide a clue that the three states were bound up simultaneously. As to the relative rarity of the various bindings, survival rates are more meaningful than production numbers, which is a truism often forgotten by both dealers and collectors, and in this case the only solid numbers we have are sales figures for the first ten years. Cloth copies account for 88,124 of the 125,479 copies sold by 1879.
This book, like most of Twain's subscription books, is quite common in shabby condition in later states, and extremely difficult to find in fine condition in the first state. Fine copies of the first state in black cloth, plain edges, sell for $2,000 or more. Poor copies bring only a few hundred dollars, but most acceptable copies, if attractive and free of repairs, bring $800 to $1,500. Copies of any state in one of the normal leather bindings in very good condition bring a premium, and any copies in one of the unrecorded bindings, whether cloth or leather, would bring much more, regardless of the state of the sheets. Copies with the San Francisco imprint are rare and bring a premium.
MARK TWAIN'S (BURLESQUE) AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FIRST ROMANCE. New York: Sheldon & Co.  BAL 3326.
This short piece should not be confused with Twain's later AUTOBIOGRAPHY published in magazine form in 1906, and in book form in 1924. It is a fictional history of Twain's ancestry, told in a bragging fashion, but revealing most of them to have been criminals or ne'er-do-wells. Little is known of its publication history, the size of the edition, or why Twain's text was paired with cartoons lampooning Jay Gould's Erie Railroad scandal, which had nothing to do with the text.
This thin little booklet was issued in four colors of cloth: green, terra cotta, maroon, and lavender. Copies were also issued in wrappers. BAL describes the two states, and assigns priority between them, but overlooks the significance of an unusual feature of this book. The cloth-bound copies were made up of four six-leaf gatherings, while the wrappered copies were bound from a single twenty-four-leaf gathering. Clearly, the plates were reimposed between the printing of the cloth copy gatherings and the single gathering used for the wrappered copies. And yet, both states are found in cloth as well as wrappers. This means that if a single set of plates were used, that they were first imposed to produce sets of sheets for cloth copies, then reimposed to produce the single gathering for wrappered copies, then altered by the addition of the ad on the verso of the title-page, and then reimposed once again for each of the two bindings. Reimposing twice just to save a minuscule expense on sewing and collating on such a short text made no sense. Sewing and collating was done mostly by women whose wages were much lower than for men (so what's new?), who generally made plates and operated the presses. It seems more likely that two sets of plates were used, one for sets of gatherings for cloth copies and another for the gathering used in wrappered copies. The question is whether both sets of plates were altered by the addition of the ad after a first printing, or whether both sets of plates were used simultaneously, one with the ad and the other without. Since the ad is for a company having nothing to do with the publisher, it seems likely that they were produced at the same time, the copies without the ad being sold by the publisher, and the copies with the ad being distributed as a promotional piece by Ball, Black & Company, a New York jeweler, whose ad appears in those copies. It was not uncommon for publishers to run off separate issues of pamphlets with special imprints or features for a company or bookseller who contracted to buy a large quantity. Those arrangements were usually made in advance, since many publishers, especially smaller ones like Sheldon, would have been reluctant to produce an edition without some advance sales.
Cloth copies, unless maroon or lavender --which tend to fade-- are not hard to find in acceptable condition. Copies with the ad are more common than those without. In wrappers, first state copies are scarce, but second state copies are easier to find, primarily because an unsold stock of such copies (some with mild damp-stains) surfaced many years ago and were sold into the rare book market, where they were more carefully treated than those that had already been in circulation for decades. Fine copies in cloth bring $200 for the first issue, and half that for the second issue. The price spread between wrappered copies is greater. Second issue copies still bring only about $100, but first state copies in wrappers in really nice shape bring $300.
ROUGHING IT. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1872. BAL 3337.
When Twain's brother Orion was appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory, Twain tagged along to see the west. This rollicking account of their steamboat and stagecoach journey west (the first fourth of the book), together with the mixture of tall tales and autobiographical sketches that comprise the bulk of the text made this a natural pick for the Zamorano Club's 'The Zamorano 80: a Selection of Distinguished California Books...' as was THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG. The print run for the first edition is uncertain but the book was published in February, 1872 and by month's end 10,855 copies had been bound. By May 1, according to a royalty statement, 37,701 copies had been sold, of which 22,543 were in cloth, 13,952 in sheep and in cloth with gilt edges, 1,176 in three-quarter morocco, and 30 in "special" bindings which included full morocco. By 1879, the proportions were as follows: 96,083 copies sold, with 68,436 in cloth, 2,066 in cloth with gilt edges, 23,831 in sheep, 1,710 in three-quarter morocco, and 40 in special bindings. Two surviving copies are recorded in the full morocco binding, one of which Twain presented to his wife which had her name stamped in gilt on the front cover. The other full morocco copy was identically stamped, but with no name on the cover.
BAL distinguishes between the first and second states by the presence of two words on page 242 (first state) or their absence (second state). But it isn't that simple. Copies are found with just one word present (or one word absent if you're a pessimist). And similar damage to the plates has been noted on the following pages: xi.1 (M in My is perfect); 19.1 (y is perfect); and 123.6up (death!). All of these texts are damaged at some point during the printing(s), and all, including the one on page 242, are found in endless random combinations. At some point, two words were altered: at page 156.2up "thirteenth" was corrected to "sixteenth" and page 330.16up "Eastern" was corrected to "eastern." These changes could distinguish between two printings, but may only distinguish between two later printings. The states of the plates can be guessed at, but if multiple plates were used or mixing of sheets took place (as is clear from surviving copies) they should be viewed with caution. As often with subscription books, the agents for the larger regions were included in the imprint. The imprint for this book is seven lines long, starting in Hartford and ending with San Francisco, with stops along the way in Chicago, Toledo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Boston. All copies are alike except for the fifth line of the imprint which varies. Many copies, instead of a Boston agent, list a New Orleans agent, and other variants probably exist. Why the American Publishing Company chose to list their agents in this fashion is something of a mystery, but the best guess is that those agents ordering smaller numbers of copies were not allowed the prestige of having their name in all copies. With THE INNOCENTS ABROAD the imprint listed all of the agents, or it listed Bancroft of San Francisco by himself. Later, with THE GILDED AGE, the American Publishing Company changed their method and every book had either a Hartford imprint alone, or the Hartford imprint and the name of just one agent. After that, they did not list agents at all, but instead devised various code systems to identify their agents (see A TRAMP ABROAD and A CONNECTICUT YANKEE for a description of the two methods they used later).
As one of the early subscription books, fine copies are difficult to find. A copy with mostly first states in fine shape can fetch $1,250 or more. The sheep and three-quarter morocco bindings bring about the same. Copies in mostly later states in fine condition bring $400. Most often, copies have some edge wear, hinge problems, or crumbling of the cloth which becomes brittle with age. Very good copies with mostly first states, with no repairs or serious flaws, bring $600 to $1,000, and copies in later states in very good condition, bring $150 to $300. As always, the sheep binding is the hardest to find in collectible condition. The full morocco bindings are so rare that any value suggested would be speculation.
THE GILDED AGE, A TALE OF TO-DAY. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1873 [and 1874] BAL 3357.
Twain's first novel was THE GILDED AGE, co-authored by his neighbor and fellow author, Charles Dudley Warner. It tells the epic story of Colonel Sellers and the Hawkins family in their relentless and convoluted pursuit of wealth, and their very American concept of wealth as a worthy end in itself. Wealth eludes them, often with tragic results, and the title of the novel became the name of the era it describes. The story follows a twisted path and is the least structured of Twain's fictional works. Appearing at the end of 1873, some copies carry an 1873 date, but most are dated 1874, including most of the 60 advance review copies sent out in wrappers and the copy that Warner presented his mother on the day of publication. Copies with the earliest states of the text are found with both 1873 and 1874 title-pages. No figures seem to exist for the print run of the first edition, but between December 11, 1873 and the end of the year 12,466 copies had been bound, and copies were put on sale by Christmas. Six years after publication, 56,484 copies had been sold: 41,233 were in cloth; 14,005 in sheep; 683 in three-quarter morocco; 505 in cloth, gilt edges; and 58 in full morocco.
Like the other subscription books, it was offered in the usual bindings, ranging from regular black cloth, to deluxe leather bindings. I have never seen a copy in the publisher's full morocco, and only two review copies have appeared in the market in the last twenty-five years. The various printing states of this novel result both from damaged type that was repaired during the course of printing, and changes of text that may have occurred between printings. The obscure name Twain chose for his fictional Colonel Eschol Sellers turned out to be the real name of some poor drudge who came out of the woodwork and threatened a lawsuit. The name was quickly changed to Beriah in the next printing (was it the second printing?). Luckily, there were apparently no Beriahs among the reading public, or at least none who cared to announce themselves. BAL outlines other changes in the text. A page reference was corrected in the list of illustrations from 211 to 212, an illustration was added to page 403, and a misprint in the terminal ads was corrected from "truex inde" to "true index." The change that is most often discussed, because it is the least often seen, involves repeated lines: the last line on page 351 is repeated at the top of page 352, and the last line of page 352 is repeated as the first line on page 353. In the corrected plate, the repeated lines are removed from the bottom of page 351 and the top of 353. Although copies with both the 1873 and 1874 title-pages have been found with the repeated lines present, the fact that this error is always found in conjunction with all of the other earliest states and that it is very seldom found at all, would indicate it was corrected very early in the printing process. Without publisher's records, it is difficult to say whether these repeated lines might distinguish the first printing; they certainly represent the earliest state of the gathering in which they occur. The other changes noted by BAL (at pages 246.5up and 280.18) are the result of broken type and could have occurred during the course of a single printing, and because they occur in copies of the book in random combinations, it is clear that multiple plates or mixed sheets (or both) are involved. There are also significant changes, all the result of damaged type, at pages 302 (type breakage in the running head), 320 (type breakage in the chapter heading), 409.14 (the "W" drops out of "Washington"), and 473 (type breakage in "C" in the chapter heading, and type breakage at 473.3). As with the type damage noted by BAL, all of these could have occurred during the course of any printing. A curious feature of this book is the rarely seen "forged title-page" which was not a forged title-page at all, but a cancelled title-page set from new type, and inserted in some copies for unknown reasons by the publisher, who emphatically denied it when questioned, arousing suspicions that it was done to allow the sale of books "sub rosa" to booksellers rather than subscription agents. Twain suspected the American Publishing Company of doing this, but could never prove it. Agents sometimes sold books to booksellers for sale in bookstores in violation of their contract with the publisher, and publisher sometimes undercut their agents by selling directly to booksellers as well. The title-page was proved to have been inserted by the publisher when it was noticed that the tiny red sprinkling of the sheet edges (a common feature of the subscription books) aligned with the edges of the inserted title-page, indicating that it had been inserted before the book was bound. Yet another unusual feature of this book are the numerous dual imprints found on the title-pages. Unlike the subscription books before it, the title-page of THE GILDED AGE contained either the sole imprint of "Hartford: American Publishing Company" or Hartford along with one other city and agent. The other cities thus far noted include Chicago, New York, Syracuse, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Toledo, San Francisco, and Boston. There are probably others. And in this connection, an unusual variant exists. The copies with the San Francisco imprint have been noted with both an integral title-page and a cancelled title-page. The copy with the cancelled title-page was bound in sheep, and the cancel was inserted by the publisher before binding, as evidenced by the red sprinkling, and was presumably done to fill an order from the San Francisco agent at a point when there were not enough sewn copies on hand with the correct imprint. The San Francisco copies of THE GILDED AGE, like THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, usually have the terminal ad leaves excised. These copies with dual imprints can be seen as separate issues, but it must be remembered that the publisher had only to print up the first gathering as needed to fill orders from the various regional agents as they came in, and not all copies with a particular imprint were issued at one time or as a single unit, even though the publisher did view them as separately published units. Yet another variant title-page has recently come to light for this book. It carries a single Hartford imprint and is dated 1874, a commonly seen imprint. But just above the imprint, well-righted, appears a six-pointed asterisk-like ornament, about one-eighth inch in diameter. What this might signify is a mystery, and the status of this copy is uncertain. This copy contains later states of the text, so this change took place well after the earliest copies had been issued. Of several hundred copies examined over the years, this is the first copy so noted, but others have probably escaped notice.
Copies of this book with the repeated lines are rare, especially in fine condition in any binding, and bring $2,000 and more. Other copies with mostly early states, in cloth, plain edges, bring $500 to $1,500, and a little more in the other bindings. Copies in the later states can be found easily for less than $300. In less than fine condition, these prices can begin a rapid slide to as little as one-third of these figures.
MARK TWAIN'S SKETCHES. NUMBER ONE. New York: American News Co.  BAL 3360.
This slender pamphlet was Twain's second collection of short fiction and was sold at news-stands. Almost nothing is known of its publication history, but the fact that it was numbered as if intended to be the first in a series gives rise to speculation that Twain or his publisher projected a series of his short works. This may have been in response to the Canadian piracies, some of which had appeared in similar format. Twain had already signed a contract with The American Publishing Company for SKETCHES, NEW AND OLD (1875), so it is unclear whether he or the publishing company was connected with this booklet. In a letter Twain makes a reference to a cheap edition, possibly this printing, and at least two copies autographed by Twain exist, so it is clear he saw copies at some point. But it remains a mystery, and it is not a common title. The front wrapper is a favorite with Twain collectors because it depicts a green frog sitting under a toadstool reading a Mark Twain book.
The wrappers of this title occur in two basic states. In the earliest state the rear wrapper is blank; in the later states it is imprinted with ads for Aetna Life Insurance dated January 1, 1877. BAL notes only one state with the life insurance ads, but two exist: one with a New York agent's imprint, and the other with a Boston agent's imprint, and others may exist as well. Another feature of this second state that BAL overlooks is the fact that the rear wrapper, at least on some copies, was printed after the wrapper had been applied to the sheets. This is detected by turning the last leaf of text in angled light to reveal the "bite" of the type through the rear wrapper, showing a ghost image of the printed wrapper on that final leaf of text. This feature is not found in connection with the front wrapper on any copies of either state, which leads to the logical conclusion that unsold copies of the pamphlet (in wrapper state 1) may have been sold wholesale to the Aetna Life Insurance Company for their promotional use, resulting in wrapper state 2. It is likely that during the time that Aetna Life Insurance was distributing their copies, the American New Company conitnued to sell copies of the first state; the notion that the publisher might have gone out of business or sold off their stock is wrong; the American News Company was still a thriving business in the 1940s.
In the first state, a fine copy will fetch over $1,000, and second state copies follow close behind. With minor edge chips, prices fall off very little, and even in average condition, copies of the first state still bring more than $500, with second state copies trailing close behind.
MARK TWAIN'S SKETCHES, NEW AND OLD. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1875. BAL 3364.
This collection of sixty-three sketches --and they are nearly all short sketches-- contains some of the material that had appeared in his first two collections of short pieces, along with some western writings, and several stories that he had used, and continued to use, in his lectures and public readings. Unlike his previous subscription books, this was no hefty black tome; it was published instead in a squarish binding of bright blue decorated cloth. The binding gave the title as SKETCHES, OLD AND NEW, but the title-page begged to differ. The size of the first printing is unknown, but the book was published in September, 1875 and by the end of November 12,985 copies had been bound. By the end of the year 22,871 copies were bound. Four years after publication 23,556 cloth copies had been sold, along with 1,889 in cloth with gilt edges, 5,145 in sheep, a mere 298 in three-quarter morocco, and just six in full morocco.
The bindings offered for this book were the usual offered for the subscription books. The imprint on every copy is for Hartford and Chicago, and none carry the imprint of any agent. If the publisher had a way of tracing copies of this book back to his regional agents, it has not been discovered. Two states exist and BAL describes them. The first contains a very short story at page 299 that was later removed because it was not by Twain. Johnson points out that the manuscript for that story exists in Twain's handwriting with the name of the supposed author (Jane Stuart Woolsey) crossed out. True enough, but Johnson was unaware that Woolsey was indeed a real woman and had published her story in her very real book published in 1868. Twain may have copied it down for a story idea and included it by mistake with the other sketches. Some copies of the first state have a slip inserted at page 299 explaining that the story was not by Twain; others do not. The other feature of the first state is that a footnote at page 119 is repeated at page 120; in the later states the footnote is removed from page 120. This is all well and good, but a copy exists in mixed state: it has the first state of page 120 and the second state of page 299. Whether this indicates a mixing of sheets between two printings, or a third printing between the two is uncertain, but such copies are so rarely seen that it seems more likely that just a few sets of sheets were mixed. One interesting binding variant exists which uses the blank leaves as paste-downs instead of true end papers, and that copy (second states) also happens to have been given as a gift by Twain in 1877. Twain's own copy, marked for his lecture readings (also with second states), has correct end papers.
Copies with first states of the sheets bring $500 or more in fine condition, and leather copies fetch still more. For fine copies with the second states, cut those figures by half. Very good copies bring roughly half what fine copies bring and are not hard to find, since this book held up a little better than those before it.
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1876. BAL 3369.
It surprises many people to learn that this was Twain's first novel written entirely by himself. It is also his best-selling book, but it wasn't a best seller from the beginning, as often claimed. The first and second printings were only 5,000 copies each, and one month after publication only 9,378 copies had been bound. Two weeks later, on January 8, 1877, only 9,879 copies had been bound: 7,431 in cloth, 748 in cloth with gilt edges, 1,500 in sheep, 200 in three-quarter morocco, and by the end of the first year only 23,638 copies had been sold. By the end of 1879 the number copies sold was just 28,959: 24,241 in cloth, 798 in cloth with gilt edges, 3,620 in sheep, 300 in three-quarter morocco, and 3 in sheets. By 1885 when the sequel (HUCK FINN) was published, sales had increased only by another 6,000 copies.
Like SKETCHES, NEW AND OLD, this book appeared in a squarish binding of bright blue decorated cloth, as well as the usual leather bindings. No full morocco copies were recorded by the publisher and none have surfaced. Both the first and second printings were available on publication day and are found with December inscriptions. BAL describes the first three printings quite nicely, and describes three "issues" --really states-- of the second printing. BAL's "issue A" and "issue B" could represent separate printings, and "issue C" likely represents mixed sheets of A and B, but could in fact represent a separate printing itself. Changes of paper stock, reimposition of plates within the forme, and changes in pagination are the evidence BAL presents for distinguishing the three printings and their variants, but the first printing is of prime interest to the collector. It can be quickly distinguished by the fact that the half-title and frontispiece are printed on separate leaves --they are printed on the same leaf in the later printings --and the entire text is printed on wove paper. One of the "issues" of the second printing is also printed entirely on wove paper, but both the preliminary pagination and the fact that the half-title is printed on the same leaf as the frontispiece make it easy to distinguish from the first printing.
There is a huge variance in the prices between the first and later printings of the first edition. This was a true boy's book, and surviving copies are proof of how rough on books little boys can be. Fine copies are rare. Chipped spines, split joints, and cracked hinges are the norm. A fine copy of the first printing will fetch $10,000 to $15,000 in cloth, and more in the leather bindings. Fine copies of the later printings will fetch $2,000 or more in any binding. Worn copies of the first printing still bring thousands, and worn copies of the later printings trade in the high hundreds.
A TRUE STORY, AND THE RECENT CARNIVAL OF CRIME. Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1877. BAL 3373.
This tiny pocket book was issued in Osgood's popular Vest-Pocket Series, which included short works by Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, Tennyson, Carlyle, Milton, Pope, and others. It is a very odd pairing of two stories which are related only by the fact that both had appeared originally in 'The Atlantic Monthly.' In fact, 'A True Story' was Twain's first story to appear in that dignified literary journal that epitomized the eastern literary establishment. It is a moving tale told to Twain (who insisted it was indeed a true story) by an ex-slave who tells how her husband and children were sold at auction and how, by chance, her long-lost son eventually finds her. It is told using a framing structure that allows the ex-slave to speak for herself, literally rising to her full stature and dignity, whose authentic black dialect gives the story a quiet power no white narration could have imparted. The structure echoes his early works and the emotional honesty of the narration foreshadows some of Jim's dialogues in HUCK FINN. The other story is a strange fantasy-burlesque in which Twain tells of confronting his conscience one evening in his library, in the form of a shriveled moldy troll. He describes how he was finally able to destroy his conscience and is now blissfully happy without one, although he has since murdered people, burned down a house, and become a swindler of orphans and widows. It's an interesting psychological study, where Twain's sense of the absurd runs at full tilt, and his satirical skills are fully displayed, but the tone and theme share nothing with 'A True Story.'
Nothing is known of the printing history of this little booklet, but the series was well-known, if not successful. It is quite rare and there was probably but one printing, although copies are found in two states of binding. The first has Osgood's "JRO" monogram on the front cover; the second has the Houghton, Osgood "HO" monogram in its place. Both bindings are found in green and terra cotta cloth, with no priority between the two colors.
Fine copies fetch $2,000; very good copies perhaps half as much.
PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH! AND OTHER SKETCHES. New York: Slote, Woodman & Co.  BAL 3378.
In 1875 a nonsensical jingle by Noah Brooks and Isaac Bromley was published in the 'New York Tribune' parodying the instructions to street-car conductors on how to punch their passengers' tickets. Twain wrote a short sketch based on the premise that the jingle is so catchy that he can not get it out of his head, and is driven to distraction before he is finally able to be rid of it by passing it along to somebody else. This collection of nine short pieces was published to take advantage of the popularity of the title story. Nothing is known about the size of the edition.
Barely larger than a pocket-book, this book was issued in two distinct forms, and each form was issued in bright orange printed wrappers and pictorial cloth. BAL notes only blue and green copies, but terra cotta and deep emerald green copies also exist. The first form, which BAL describes as an edition, has Twain's name in a Roman type-face on the title-page. The second "edition" has Twain's name in facsimile autograph and two changes in the text. The signature collations are identical. There are also differences between the wrapper and cloth bindings of both "editions" and BAL describes them in good detail. These "editions" certainly represent two separate printings, but BAL's distinction is curious. The book was deposited for copyright on March 14, and copies were advertised as "ready today" on March 30. A copy was inscribed by the publisher on April 13, and it's worth noting that this copy was a second "edition."
Copies of either printing are scarce in wrappers, and fine copies are rare. The first printing in wrappers fetches $600 or more, and $300 in cloth. The second printing brings $300 in wrappers and $150 in cloth. Very good copies bring two-thirds as much.
A TRAMP ABROAD. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1880. BAL 3386.
This travel book was an account of Twain's sixteen month tour of Europe in 1878-79, and was the last of his subscription books published in the familiar bulky black cloth. Besides his accounts of Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy, Twain includes local folklore (some of which he made up) and slips in several sketches that have little or nothing to do with Europe, including one of his most famous comic tales, 'Jim Baker's Bluejay Yarn.' The book appeared the first week of March, and by July 1, it had sold 47,563 copies. At the end of one year, 62,000 copies had been sold. An interesting feature of this book was the publisher's attempt to mark copies with a code identifying the subscription agent who sold the book, in order to discourage sales to bookstores. The back covers usually carry a number stamped near the right; these numbers identified each agent; they have nothing to do with the priority of any given copy. This remained a popular title for many years in America and England, and when the English edition of FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR appeared, it was titled MORE TRAMPS ABROAD to take advantage of this book's popularity.
As usual, customers could order the book with gilt edges, in full sheep, in three-quarter leather, or in full morocco. As with the previous subscription books, the cloth copies hold up better over time than the leather copies which were not made of the best leathers. BAL notes two copies bound in "midnight blue" cloth and speculates that they were experimental bindings. We have handled two such copies and both were stamped the same as regular copies, but the cloth was a very dark blue, that in some light looks very close to the normal black cloth. It should also be mentioned that the black dye in this cloth seems more subject to fading than previous black cloths used by this publisher, and copies sometimes appear dark brown. BAL notes two states of the inserted portrait frontispiece, but as an insert it has no relation to the sheets of the book, and it is found randomly in both early and late sheets. The earliest copies printed were on thicker paper and BAL describes copies that bulk 1 5/8 inches. Later copies bulk 1 3/8 inches, and we have also noted copies that bulked 1 1/2 inches (mixed sheets or a separate printing?). There are numerous typos in the text but since none were corrected during the printings of the first edition, they are not of any use in determining the states of the sheets. Copies are found with the regular frontispiece captioned 'MOSES' which was later changed to 'TITIAN'S MOSES' but before collectors get too excited over this "point" it should be pointed out that Twain mentioned in one of his letters that this book was produced in three different pressrooms. The use of multiple plates reduces the usefulness of the states noted above in determining possible printings. BAL also notes two forms of the cloth binding, with no known priority, based on the blindstamped borders on the covers. I have noted two additional forms of the cloth binding, probably later states, based upon differences in the spine stamping, the most noticeable difference being the change from a filigree decorated gilt rule at the top and bottom, to a saw-tooth decorated gilt rule in its place. One of these copies is in unfaded brown cloth.
This book is fairly common, but fine copies with a preponderance of early states present are tough to find and fetch $500 and up. Later states in nice shape bring $150 to $300, and very good copies bring two-third as much as fine copies. The sheep and three-quarter morocco bindings bring one and half times as much as cloth copies, and full morocco copies are extremely rare.
CONVERSATION, AS IT WAS IT WAS BY THE SOCIAL FIRESIDE IN THE TIME OF THE TUDORS. [Cleveland: Alexander Gunn, 1880] BAL 3388 and 3407.
The story behind this off-color sketch has been told many times, and it has been reprinted many times, completely out of proportion to its relative importance in the Twain canon. It was a parody of Elizabethan speech and manners in which members of Queen Elizabeth's court discuss, in delicate but graphic language, the topics of flatulence, masturbation, and sexual intercourse. He wrote it in 1876 and gave to Reverend Joseph Twichell, his close friend, who circulated the manuscript for a few years. Word spread, and demand grew, until one recipient, John Hay, had four copies printed in unbound proof form by Alexander Gunn in 1880. Two were sent to Twain, and Hay and Gunn each kept one. The demand continued, and Twain allowed fifty copies to be printed by Charles Erskine Scott Wood at West Point in 1882. The booklet was reprinted in various forms in 1894 (45 copies), 1901 (the first published edition, 120 copies), 1903 (75 copies), 1904 (55 copies), 1911 (150 copies), 1913 (75 copies), 1916 (facsimile of the 1901 edition, 125 copies), and 1919 (unknown number of copies). Since 1920 it has been reprinted continuously. During his lifetime, Twain never attached his name to it or include it in his published works, but did acknowledge his authorship privately in a letter that was quickly published in a magazine.
Collectors should not count on getting one of the 1880 proof copies. One copy is in an institution, and one exists only as a tiny fragment, with Twain's note written on the back, sending it to Erskine Scott Wood to use as the copy-text for the 1882 West Point edition. The existence of this inscribed fragment proves, by the way, that the 1882 edition was printed from the 1880 proof text and not from the original manuscript, as many scholars have assumed. The West Point edition of 1882 was the first authorized edition and Twain gave away only half the edition. Of the fifty copies printed, it is said that twenty were on wove paper and the rest on laid paper. Two copies have appeared in the last twenty-five years, selling for $10,000 to $15,000 each. The 1894 edition is not much easier to find. One copy surfaced in 1972 and was resold in 1992. Two other copies surfaced twenty years ago; one went to Yale University, and the other into a private collection. Three copies of the 1901 edition have appeared during the same time, and all are in a private collection. All of this is to say that if a collector can lay hands on a copy published during Twain's lifetime and the price seems reasonable (whatever that means) then buy it, and continue to hope.
An alternative plan would be to consult the checklists published by Irving Haas (Chicago: Black Cat Press, 1936) or Franklin J. Meine (Chicago: Privately Printed, 1939) and find one of the affordable and interesting editions published after 1920. The Haas and Meine checklists were each appended to attractively printed editions of the text itself. The Grabhorn Press produced an attractive little edition in 1925 with an informative preface by Erskine Scott Wood, the text of John Hay's letter to Gunn, and Twain's 1906 letter acknowledging authorship. Merle Johnson produced an edition in 1920 which was the first to include facsimiles of the 1880 and 1882 editions.
THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, A TALE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1882. BAL 3402.
This boy's book is a perennial favorite with young readers of Twain's works. Young Tom Canty, a sixteenth century English commoner, is befriended by young Prince Edward VI, and while they are horsing around trying on each others clothes, Edward is mistaken for the commoner and tossed out on the street to fend for himself. As a result he sees first-hand the life of the commoners and when he finally regains his throne, he becomes a compassionate ruler. It is an appealing story at many levels. The first printing of 10,030 copies, as well as the second printing of 5,050 copies were both ready by publication day in December, 1881. Osgood happily reported that he had bound half of the first edition in the leather bindings, and Twain had fits, knowing that the sale for the expensive leather bindings could never be that large. Happily for Osgood, they apparently did sell, as some copies of the later printings are sometimes found in leather. Five days after publication, a third printing of 5,064 copies was completed, and two more printings of 5,000 copies each soon followed.
This was a subscription book, and like those published by the American Publishing Company, it was available in several bindings. The regular binding was green pictorial cloth, which could also be ordered with gilt edges, as well as bindings of full sheep, three- quarter morocco, and three-quarter calf. Twain had a small number printed on China paper and bound in white cloth. Twain thought six or eight copies were done this way; one of the publishing partners said fourteen copies were prepared. A single copy is known in mustard yellow cloth, stamped normally, with gilt edges, and blue- green coated end papers. Another lone copy exists in a distinctive olive green cloth, stamped normally, with plain edges. The status of these last two bindings is unknown. BAL describes two printings of the book, apparently unaware of the publisher's records. The first printing, says BAL, has the Franklin Press printer's slug on the copyright page; the second has the slug of John Wilson. The book was printed simultaneously by both pressrooms, and the publisher's records reveal an interesting pattern: the first printing was ready by November 15, 1881, with twenty of the gatherings printed by Franklin and six by Wilson; the second printing was ready by November 30, with all twenty-six gatherings printed by Franklin; the book was published on December 12, 1881; the third printing was ready by December 17, with all twenty-six gatherings printed by Franklin; the fourth printing was ready by December 24, with twelve gatherings supplied by Franklin and fourteen by Wilson; the fifth printing was ready by March 14, 1882, with all twenty-six gatherings printed by Wilson. Franklin clearly printed most, but not all, of the gatherings first printed (but which gatherings?). The problem is further complicated by the fact that three textual changes were made at the same time between two of those first five printings (but between which two?). The changes were: page 124.1 ("estate" to "state"); page 263.9up ("do not" to "do"); page 362.3up ("reigned" to "reined"). Copies with the Franklin Press imprint are found with both states of the text; and all copies of the John Wilson imprint that have been seen have the corrected state of the text. The sequence seems clear enough, and the evidence points to three printings. The problem is that there are five printings to be accounted for, and not enough evidence to go around. In 1884, Charles L. Webster took over Osgood's stock of Twain's publications, which included 4,550 unfolded sets of sheets for this book, 50 folded sets of sheets, 266 bound copies, 13 boxes of electros, and 2 sets of brasses for the cover stamping (sure enough, BAL notes two states of the cover-stamping, with no priority established).
Collectors will want to look for copies with the Franklin Press imprint and the uncorrected states of the text. Fine copies in cloth fetch $500 or more, and leather copies have sold for much higher prices based on the assumption that they are as rare as leather bindings for Twain's other subscription books, when in fact they are not. The sheep and three-quarter calf bindings are indeed scarce, but the three-quarter morocco binding is nearly as common as cloth. Later states in fine condition still fetch $300, and very good copies are easier to find for $150 to $400, depending on the state of the text and binding style.
THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT ETC. Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1882. BAL 3404.
The title-story of this collection of eighteen stories (including all of those previously printed in PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH!) is a wonderful burlesque about a sacred white elephant that is stolen while being transported from Siam, via New Jersey, to Queen Victoria, as a diplomatic gesture of goodwill after the settlement of a dispute. It is an early detective story itself, although the dozens of detectives involved in the search are hopelessly inept. The size of the edition is unknown.
The book is recorded in only one binding, and there was but one printing. BAL describes the cloth as "tan," but it is really a cream pictorial cloth stamped in brown and gilt. Most copies today are indeed tan, having aged with time. When Osgood's business failed a few years after publication his stock was taken over by Charles L. Webster who issued copies of the original sheets with his own cancel title-page. This is not recorded by Johnson or BAL, but the only copy I have seen of this issue is in green cloth with Webster's imprint at foot, and otherwise stamped from the original brasses used on the first edition binding.
The book is common, and fine copies fetch $300. Fine, when applied to nineteenth century books, must take into account conditions that are endemic to the materials used in producing the book. The glue used in applying the cloth to the covers of this book apparently contains iron residue that was not bleached out during manufacture of the glue, resulting in "foxing" of the cloth covers. Even the nicest copies seem to have some hint of this condition, which is more commonly seen in papers produced using cast iron machinery that leached soluble iron into the paper pulp. Copies that don't have the condition yet will have it eventually. Very good copies can be found for $200.
LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1883. BAL 3411.
Twain once remarked that he considered this book his masterpiece, the book that would outlive his other works and endure as a classic. Of course, Twain once defined a classic as a book everybody talks about but nobody ever reads, and by that standard, this volume is in no danger of going the way of PARADISE LOST, WAR AND PEACE, or REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST. At first glance it seems to be a travel book, but it is really a highly readable discursive autobiographical account of Twain's boyhood, his region, and of a culture that had radically changed since he left home thirty years earlier. It makes good reading as background for HUCK FINN, and it is such a vivid evocation of the period and people it describes, it may yet endure as a classic. The only thing we know of the printing history is what Twain wrote in 1891: that 50,000 copies were printed and bound, but only 32,000 sold. A contemporary ad also claimed 50,000 had been printed, and promised that 40,000 would be bound by publication day. Either way, the implication is that the unsold copies were re-issued by Charles L. Webster between 1884 and 1891 when he took over Osgood's stock. Copies are found with Osgood's sheets and a Webster cancel title-page, in Webster bindings, dated 1888 and 1891, and copies with Osgood's 1883 title- page intact have been seen in Webster bindings.
As a subscription book, this book was similar in size to the hefty tomes of the American Publishing Company, but the handsome pictorial brown cloth binding ranks with the binding of HUCK FINN as one of the best on a Twain first edition. It could be ordered with gilt edges, in full sheep, three-quarter morocco, and three- quarter calf. I have located only two copies in the publisher's full morocco, each with different blindstamping. BAL nicely describes the first of two states of the sheets: page 441 (illustration of Twain's head in flames, later removed because it disturbed his wife), and page 443 (the caption "The St. Louis Hotel" later corrected to "The St. Charles Hotel"). In BAL's second state, both pages are corrected. But BAL also describes two "intermediate states" in which the two textual changes occur in both possible combinations. The net result is that the two pages occur in all four possible combinations, and the unanswered question is whether this is the result of mixed sheets, multiple plates, or four separate printings.
Collectors try to find copies with both pages in their first states in fine condition. In cloth, such copies can run $600 and up. Leather copies in the first states fetch more than $1,000. Copies in the second states fetch two-thirds of those figures, and copies in "mixed" states fall in between. The book is usually found in very good condition, and worn copies in the second states can be found for $200 or less.
ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. New York: Charles L. Webster and Co., 1885. BAL 3415.
The publication history and significance of the various textual states found in Twain's masterpiece will be discussed at tedious length in next month's issue, so the bindings will be the focus of attention here. As with his previous subscription books, the regular binding was cloth, in this case a handsome dark green pictorial binding whose illustration of Huck on the front cover has become the model for all subsequent depictions in book illustrations and movies. This book was marketed as the sequel to TOM SAWYER and the prospectus warned customers that those who wanted a blue cloth copy had to specify it or else a green copy would be sent. The book was also offered in cloth with gilt edges, full sheep, and in three-quarter morocco. Sheep copies are the rarest binding, with three-quarter morocco a close second. Blue cloth copies are at least twenty times as rare as green cloth copies, and while the book is not particularly scarce, fine bright copies have become uncommon over the years.
Fine copies of the first printing in either of the leather bindings have increased in price enormously in the past decade, fetching $5,000 and more. Fine copies in blue cloth run close behind, and fine copies in green cloth fetch $3,000. In the second printing, those prices fall by half. In very good condition, prices run about two-thirds of those for fine copies. Shabby copies of this book can easily be found, and sell for a few hundred dollars. What makes the hunt for a collectible copy of this book interesting is the differences of opinion about the market value of the various states of the sheets and frontispiece. Generally, the earlier states fetch slightly higher prices, but most prudent collectors have studied BAL and are not swayed by issue-mongers with a book to sell.
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1889. BAL 3429.
This is one of Twain's most disturbing works, an early science fiction novel in which the hero, Hank Morgan, travels back in time to sixth-century England. The premise allows Twain to poke fun at both sixth-century England and modern America. All political, economic, religious, and social institutions are targets of bitter attacks. The mood is choppy, shifting from light burlesque to despairing diatribes, and back again. Yet Morgan himself is one of the most interesting and conflicted characters to spring from Twain's imagination. The size of the first edition is not known. An interesting feature of this book was the use of adhesive stamps on the rear end paper to identify subscription agents who sold a particular copy, and thereby discourage sale to bookstores. Perforated like postage stamps they were lettered A, B, or C, and numbered. They could easily be removed, and of course, they have nothing to do with the priority of a given copy. Oddly, Webster made no effort to code copies of LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI or HUCK FINN, and the method used on this title was not nearly as effective as the simpler and cheaper method used on A TRAMP ABROAD.
The bindings offered on this book varied a little from previous subscription books. The cloth binding was a pale green pictorial binding, but was not available with gilt edges. It was also offered in sheep and three-quarter morocco. And it was offered in full "seal russia." Seal russia is a calf skin treated to look like morocco; the chemical and heat treatment leaves the leather brittle and chemically unstable and surviving copies in this kind of leather are quite rare and usually found in terrible condition. The cloth binding is found with two styles of end papers of unknown priority: geometric and floral. The sheets display several states that have been accepted as indications of priority. At page 59 the caption for the illustration as an extraneous S-like figure that appears between the words "The King" which was later routed out. The last two lines of page 72 occurs with both perfect and broken type. Finally, a very few copies are recorded with a half-title printed on the recto of the frontispiece; known reprints do not have this feature. The problem with all three of these states is that they occur in random combinations, and copies of the book that Twain presented to friends at the time of publication (Christmas, 1889) are found in both early and late states. Most collectors are content with a copy with early states of pages 59 and 72, and any copy with the extremely rare half-title is coveted regardless of the other states.
Cloth copies in fine condition with early states bring $500 or more, and a copy with a half-title might bring double that. Fine cloth copies in the later states bring two-thirds as much. And copies in leather bindings bring a bit more, all other things being equal. Seal russia is too rare to risk speculation.
THE AMERICAN CLAIMANT. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1892. BAL 3434.
This is generally regarded as Twain's least successful novel, in which he tried to recreate the character of Colonel Sellers from THE GILDED AGE. The theme of the claimant --sometimes genuine, sometimes imaginary, and always frustrated --appeared in some form or another in many of Twain's works, including THE GILDED AGE, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, and HUCK FINN. It was hastily written after Twain had spent twenty years investing as much as $3,000 per month in an unsuccessful typesetting machine invented by James W. Paige. Much of the novel concerns the unsuccessful inventions of the ever- hopeful Colonel Sellers, no doubt inspired in part by Paige, who also was a possible model for Hank Morgan of A CONNECTICUT YANKEE.
If there was more than one printing, no significant differences have been found between copies, and nothing has been published about the size of the edition. Issued in the same grey-green pictorial cloth as MERRY TALES, this book was also available in a pale olive green cloth, with no known priority.
The book is common, and fine copies should cost no more than $200; very good copies bring at least $100.
MERRY TALES. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1892. BAL 3435.
This collection of short pieces included 'The Private History of a Campaign That Failed,' an account of Twain's brief and tragic career as a Confederate "soldier." It was published as part of Webster's successful 'Fiction, Fact, and Fancy Series,' whose other titles included a collection of poems by Walt Whitman. The size of the first edition is not known, but surviving copies would suggest there was but one printing of the sheets.
The book was bound in single shade of grey-green decorated cloth, uniform with the others in the series. BAL describes the three binding variants, and suggests a possible order of priority. The first state of the binding has end papers printed in one of two patterns: one with tiny berries and thorns; the other with tiny parsley-like leaves. Copies in this binding that are found without a frontispiece portrait of Twain are thought to be the earlier form. Copies with the frontispiece are thought to be the second form, and copies with the frontispiece, but with plain white end papers, are thought to be the third form. From our own observation of copies with early ownership inscription, it would seem that the frontispiece was not ready for insertion by publication day, and that BAL's suggested order is correct.
Copies of this book are easy to come by, and are usually in very good condition. Fine copies should be obtainable for no more than $200, and very good ones run $100 or a little more.
THE £1,000,000 BANK-NOTE AND OTHER NEW STORIES. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1893. BAL 3436.
This collection of mostly unexceptional sketches and short stories contains 'A Cure for the Blues' an interesting satirical analysis of a badly written novel, whose unintentional flaws provided Twain with much amusement. The title story is a plotty novella about a England, before being given an unspendable banknote by two wealthy eccentrics who have a secretly made a bet over what effect this will have on him. There was but one printing, and nothing is published about the size of the first edition.
The volume was bound in pale tan decorated cloth, and BAL notes a copy at Harvard bound in skiver, but provides no details about that binding. A copy sold at auction in 1956 was described as being in "original brown leather." BAL describes copies bound with plain white end papers, and every cloth copy seen is so bound, but one. That copy has end papers imprinted with tiny berries and thorns identical to the pattern noted in some copies of MERRY TALES (1892). The binding and text are otherwise the same as other copies, and the status of this copy is unknown. More than twenty- five years ago a bookseller, the late Roger Butterfield, catalogued a copy described as being in the "original plain dust jacket." That copy has not been located or examined for confirmation.
The book usually survives in decent shape, though it is common to find copies with darkening to the spine cloth. Fine copies fetch $200 and very good ones more than $100.
TOM SAWYER ABROAD. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1894. BAL 3440.
This book was intended as a sequel to HUCK FINN, but because it makes no effort to carry forward the themes of Twain's masterpiece, it disappoints. It features Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Jim in an episodic series of adventures in Africa, and ends suddenly with no resolution of any of the plot elements. The American edition was printed from the text that had appeared in magazine form, heavily edited by Mary Mapes Dodge, who not only edited out much of Twain's text, but inserted much of her own without his authority. The English edition was set from a copy of the original typescript, and is closer to Twain's intentions. The size of the first edition is unknown.
BAL describes the binding as tan decorated cloth, and Johnson calls it "brownish-grey twilled cloth." The cloth, in the best-preserved copies, is actually a cream (not quite white) cloth with a tiny pale grey-green twill woven in the fiber that gives the covers a grayish cast. Truly fresh copies are uncommon, and many copies show signs of cocking in the spine cloth, apparently caused by the glue or backstrip material used during manufacture. BAL notes two minor states of the gilt imprint at the foot of the spine, with no known priority.
The book is not a common title, and fine copies are scarce, fetching $500 and up. Very good copies follow close behind, and even ho-hum copies usually cost $150.
THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD'NHEAD WILSON AND THE COMEDY THOSE EXTRAORDINARY TWINS. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1894. BAL 3442.
This complex novel (and the companion "comedy" that Twain extracted from the manuscript when he realized his story was evolving into a tragedy) has become accepted in recent years as one of his major statements, and is thematically linked to HUCK FINN. The story begins when a slave woman switches her baby son with the baby infant of her master, and ends when her son murders his uncle and is put on trial where his true identify is revealed. Along the way, Twain explores the philosophy of determinism, and examines the culture of his Mississippi youth: small-town provincialism, miscegenation, the degenerative impact of slavery on master and slave, and parents who fail their children. The size of the first edition is unknown.
When this book appeared, Twain's own publishing house, Webster & Co., had failed, and he was in the process of negotiating contracts with Harper Brothers for those books whose copyrights were not controlled by his old subscription firm, the American Publishing Co. This book appeared under their imprint and came in the bindings usually available for subscription books: rust brown decorated cloth, full sheep, and three-quarter morocco. In the first printing the first eight gatherings are not uniformly signed, the title-page is conjugate with the following leaf, and the sheets bulk 1 1/8 inches; in the second printing the gatherings are uniformly signed, the title-page is a singleton printed on slightly different paper than the paper used in the text, and the sheets bulk 1 1/4 inches. There are two states of the inserted frontispiece, of unknown priority, and they are inserts anyway with no relation to the printings of the text. The book proved popular and there were several reprints.
Cloth copies of this book usually survive in nice shape; the binding was durable, and these copies fetch $300 and up. Very good copies are not to hard to come by and bring $200 and up. Copies of the second printing bring a little less. Copies in the leather bindings in acceptable condition are scarce, and bring two or three times these prices.
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896. BAL 3446.
This work, commonly described as a biography, is a fictionalized account of the martyr's life, and is in fact, Twain's last completed novel to be published in his lifetime. He presented it as a modern translation of a contemporary French journal, and intrudes on his own framing device as a modern narrator from time to time. The theme is Joan's saintly nobility in the face of unrelenting evil, and to the end of his life it was Twain's favorite among his own books; he constantly promoted it, mentioned it in conversation and interviews, and gave away more reprints of this book to young women than any other. In the last years of his life the sale of this title steadily increased until more copies were in print than all but four of his other works: HUCK FINN, TOM SAWYER, ROUGHING IT, and INNOCENTS ABROAD (and those titles all had a ten to twenty year head-start). The first edition was 5,000 copies.
It is often claimed that Twain published this work anonymously, but readers of Harper's Magazine, where the text first appeared, guessed the authorship immediately, and the book has Twain's name on the spine. The binding was bright red cloth, decorated in silver and gilt. There are two states of the first edition. The two different states are determined by the terminal ads which were printed integral with the last gathering. The first state has the 'The Abbey Shakespeare' advertised at the head of page  and at page  the first two volumes of 'The Memoirs of Barras' are offered for $3.75, and the last two volumes are described as "just ready." In the second state (printing?) the heading has been changed to 'George Washington' and 'The Memoirs of Barras' are offered as a four-volume set at $15. Copies of this book without any date on the title-page are reprints, as is the case with all of Twain's later Harper books.
Aside from some spine fading and effacing of the silver from the sword on the spine, copies in fine condition bring $300 for the first state. The second state brings about half that, and very good copies can be found for about two-thirds as much.
TOM SAWYER ABROAD, TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE, AND OTHER STORIES. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896. BAL 3447.
Only the title story in this volume had not been printed before. TOM SAWYER ABROAD had appeared in 1894, and most of the stories were reprinted from THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT. The reason for this was that Twain had signed a contract with Harper to reprint all of his works not already copyrighted by the American Publishing Company, and Harper issued a collected edition in 1896/7 (called the Uniform Edition) beginning with six volumes: HUCK FINN, LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, THE AMERICAN CLAIMANT AND OTHER STORIES AND SKETCHES (combining the novel with the contents of MERRY TALES), A CONNECTICUT YANKEE, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, and TOM SAWYER ABROAD, TOM SAWYER DETECTIVE. This Harper edition stalled at six volumes until 1903 when Twain was able to obtain the rest of his copyrights and sign contracts with Harper to print all of his books. The Uniform Edition, whose stray volumes seem to be everywhere, actually began that year. 'Tom Sawyer Detective' is a sequel to HUCK FINN that begins where HUCK FINN ends, and continues the action along the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, it ignores the themes of the earlier work, and in this detective novella, inspired by the popularity of the recently published Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom and Huck solve a murder mystery. The first printing was just 1,000 copies, the smallest known first edition for a trade edition of one of Twain's works, although A TRUE STORY may have been as small.
The binding used was red cloth, gilt with a corn-husk design on the cover; this was the standard binding of the Uniform Edition and was used by Harper again when they brought out the rest of his works. There was but one printing; it has the date on the title-page and no boxed ads on the copyright page. Later printings are undated (or dated 1898 or later) and have boxed ads for Twain's later works on the copyright page. Copies of this book, like others in this familiar binding, are usually found with faded spines.
Any copy of this book is rare, and fine copies are quite rare, fetching $2,500 and more. Very good copies fetch $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the degree of spine fading, and whether the frontispiece is loosening (it was not properly inserted in most copies). Ho-hum copies show up for less than $1,000 occasionally. The book may have been issued in a dust jacket, but no example is recorded.
HOW TO TELL A STORY AND OTHER ESSAYS. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897. BAL 3449.
Twain's best collection of essays, beginning with the title essay, which reveals a great deal about Twain's approach to the art of story-telling and his distinction between comedy and humor. The essays include his famous attack on James Fenimore Cooper's novels, his defense of Harriet Shelley, and his "private history" of the jumping frog story, among others. The edition was 2,000 copies.
The binding was bright red cloth, attractively decorated in gilt, with the top edge gilt. The first printing contains the date on the title-page, which was removed on the reprints. This is the earliest of Twain's books for which a dust jacket survives; it is poorly printed on cream paper, and printed only on the spine; only two examples of the dust jacket are known to survive: one is complete; the other is about 80% complete, in fragments. A number of books to which Twain contributed were published before this date in dust jackets, THE NIAGRA BOOK being the best-known example. THE £1,000,000 BANK NOTE was probably issued in a dust jacket, but the only copy so-described is now unlocated.
Fine copies of this book have become hard to find, and bring over $300. Very good copies trail closely behind. There being but one copy in a complete dust jacket and that copy not being for sale, we'll leave the value to the reader's imagination.
FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, A JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1897. BAL 3451.
This heavy tome was the result of Twain famous lecture tour around the world in order to earn enough money to pay off the debts of his bankruptcy. His last travel book, it is also his most serious, and he relates the narrative as himself, with few of the stories, comic sketches, and discursive passages that peppered his four earlier travel books. The serious tone in some ways makes this his best travel narrative. The English edition was published under the title MORE TRAMPS ABROAD and contains thousands of word not included in this American text, as well as other differences in construction. The size of the edition is unknown, but it was large.
But for a collected edition begun in 1899, this was the last subscription book he published, and his last book to be published by the American Publishing Company. In America, subscription books were no longer as successful a marketing device as they had been during the four previous decades. The regular edition was bound in blue cloth with a colorful inset on the front cover featuring an elephant. The book came with two states of the title-page; one with a Hartford imprint; the other with a dual imprint of Hartford and New York (for distribution by Doubleday). Since the title-page was an insert, it has no bearing on the state of the text. Like the other subscription books, it was offered in the cloth binding, and two leather bindings were available: one was three-quarter red- brown morocco with raised bands; the other was light tan three- quarter morocco with a smooth spine and the title stamped within a gilt box on the spine. One copy is known bound in two cloth volumes, but since known review copies were in the regular cloth bindings, this set may be a publisher's file copy or a trial binding that was rejected (unwisely). A single copy is known with the original folding box intact. There was also a "limited signed edition" of 250 numbered and signed copies, bound in green cloth with a paper label. It was issued with several variant title-pages and several kinds of preliminaries, and it is probable that not all 250 copies were actually assembled. Johnson reports that the publisher informed him that just sixty copies were ever issued.
One of Twain's most common books, fine cloth copies have become harder to find in recent years and fetch $300. Leather copies bring a little more. The heavy paper and the bulk of the text make this book prone to hinge problems, and very good copies fetch $200, while copies with cracked hinges are found for $100, sometimes even less. I have seen five or six copies of the signed edition in the last twenty-five years, and a very good copy would fetch $4,500 or more. Like the dust-jacketed HOW TO TELL A STORY, the copy in the unique original publisher's box is not for sale, so collectors will have to dream.
THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG AND OTHER STORIES AND ESSAYS. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1900. BAL 3459.
The famous title story is a novella widely viewed as marking a turning point in Twain's fiction, as if he suddenly became pessimistic and attracted to dark themes, but it contains no themes darker than those that made appearances in HUCK FINN or A CONNECTICUT YANKEE. This is a parable about a smug all-American town whose citizens, never having been tempted, take pride in their honesty. A stranger sets in motion a test of their honor, and they fail. Most of the stories that accompany this tale had been printed previously in book form. The size of the first edition is unknown.
Bound in Harper's familiar "corn-husk" red cloth binding of the Uniform Edition, this book is found in three states, possibly printings, of the text. The earliest bulks 1 1/16 inches; the second bulks 1 3/16 inches; the third bulks 1 1/4 inches. The first inserted plate (at page 2) also comes in two states: the earliest state is printed with the page number "[page 2" and the corrected state deletes the page reference. As an insert it is not related to the sheets of the book. BAL does not make this clear, and was unaware that the book is found in mixed states. Certainly copies of the first state of the sheets that also contain the first state of the plate are most desirable, but were probably not bound or issued earlier than other copies of the first state of the sheets. Copies are known in the Tabard Inn bindings (a popular lending library with numerous branches, mostly in New England, that bought large quantities of popular books from publishers, who often supplied them with a special binding). The example seen is in the usual Tabard Inn style in sage green cloth, but they also bound their books in red and blue, and such copies may exist. One copy in the regular Harper binding is known in the original dust jacket.
A fine copy in the first states, with unfaded spine, will fetch $300 and are uncommon. Later states bring $150 and up. Copies with spine fading bring less in proportion to the degree of fading and general appearance.
A DOUBLE BARRELLED DETECTIVE STORY. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1902. BAL 3471.
This is a far-fetched parody of Sherlock Holmes' popular detective stories, in which a young man leaves home in search of his father who had abused his mother and abandoned the family. He torments an innocent man he mistakes for his father. The size of the edition is unknown.
The book is found bound in maroon or red cloth with the title stamped intaglio on a gilt background on the front cover. There were at least two printings, one on wove paper and one on laid paper, and BAL was unable to determine priority between them, suggesting that they may have been printed simultaneously. A copy inscribed by Twain on the day of publication was on laid paper, but that does not prove that wove copies were also not available at that time, or which copies might have been printed first. The end papers come in two states, and come in all four possible combinations (front and back) but there is no priority between them. The volume is also found in blue and maroon Tabard Inn bindings. Four copies are known in the original dust jacket, but at least two of those copies are in the later state jacket with advertisements on the rear panel for books by Twain published after 1902.
This book is not particularly hard to find, and brings $200 in nice shape, a little less for very good copies. The last copy offered for sale in a dust jacket (state unknown) was priced $15,000.
MY DEBUT AS A LITERARY PERSON. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1903. BAL 3476.
This was volume 23 in the various collected editions of Twain's works being published by the American Publishing Co. It prints four essays in book form in America for the first time, and is collected for that reason.
There are several problems with collecting this volume. First, it was just one volume from a larger set, and stray volumes are hard to come by, and many collectors shun the entire sets because they consist mostly of reprint material and are bulky. The second problem is that the American Publishing Company printed the sheets of this volume on various papers and issued them with each of the editions they had begun selling in 1899 and 1901: the Autograph Edition, the Author's Edition, the De Luxe Edition, the Hillcrest Edition (the copyright deposit copy was from this printing), the Royal Edition, the Riverdale Edition, and the Underwood Edition (which was a separate issue of the Riverdale Edition sold by Newbegin department stores).
Once you decide which edition you want, and have found a copy, expect to pay $150 to $250. It is more likely that after years of searching you will find a copy from one of the editions, and decide then and there that this is indeed the one you want.
A DOG'S TALE. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1904. BAL 3483.
Twain was a rabid admirer of Robert Browning's poetry, and even started a Browning reading circle in his Hartford home. This maudlin story may have been inspired by Browning's poem 'Tray,' about a person who wants to study the brain of a dog that saved a child from drowning. In Twain's story, the dog, who is also the narrator, saves her master's child from a fire, but sees her own pup become a victim of vivisection, a practice Twain opposed. The device of telling the story from the dog's point of view echoes Jack London's THE CALL OF THE WILD, which had become a runaway best seller the year before. The size of the first edition is unknown.
This short story was published by itself in a slender volume of bright red pictorial cloth. The first printing has the date on the title-page. I have noted two states of the dust jacket, and seen perhaps a dozen examples in a jacket.
The book is common enough, and fine copies fetch over $100. Very good copies, usually with a little flaking of the delicate white lettering, bring a little less. A fine copy in a very good jacket will bring $600 or more, but they are hard to find.
EXTRACTS FROM ADAM'S DIARY. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1904. BAL 3480.
Twain wrote a series of manuscripts, most not published during his lifetime, on the theme of Adam and Eve. Twain discarded the view that Adam and Eve should have been held accountable for sin, since they had no frame of reference and were born without moral awareness. The size of the first edition is unknown.
This was a short book, published in the same style of bright red pictorial cloth as A DOG'S TALE. The first printing has the date on the title-page. I have noted fours states of the dust jacket, and several dozen probably exist.
Like his other late Harper books, this is not a scarce book, and fine copies fetch more than $100. Very good copies, with the delicate white lettering beginning to flake off, bring less. A fine copy in a very good dust jacket will bring $600 or more, but they are tough to find.
KING LEOPOLD'S SOLILOQUY. Boston: P. R. Warren Co., 1905. BAL 3485.
King Leopold was the murderous dictator of the Congo (now Zaire) and in this satirical political tract, Twain's Leopold defends his atrocities in pious language dripping with cynicism. The size of the first edition is unknown, but Paine says "thousands of them were distributed free."
This pamphlet was issued in pictorial wrappers and BAL describes a so-called "trial printing" (actually a proof copy that was sent to Twain), four issues of the published edition, the second edition, and also notes that there are intermediate states. There are also intermediate states that BAL did not record. Three of the characteristics BAL cites concern the inserted frontispiece and two of the five inserted plates. Those should be viewed with caution. The first printing sheets, like the proof sheets, reads "Jordan and other..." in the last line of the footnote at page 8. BAL's second and third issues actually seem to be the same printing of the sheets with different states of the inserted plates. The fourth issue BAL describes appears to be a third printing. The entire matter is confused by the existence of copies with various mixed states of the sheets, plates, and wrappers. Because some of the mixed sheet copies happen to include the first printing of the sheet containing page 8, copies that have that reading should be collated carefully against BAL's description.
The first printing is rare, and fetches $600 in fine condition. The later "issues" bring $100 to $300 depending on their condition. Fine copies of any form of this pamphlet are uncommon since the glazed wrappers tend to flake with handling.
EVE'S DIARY. London and New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906. BAL 3489.
This was a companion volume to ADAM'S DIARY and is really a tribute to Twain's wife, Livy, who had died two years before. The theme is simple: without companionship, life has no meaning. Unlike his other writings on Adam and Eve, Twain took this short story seriously and insisted that a different illustrator (Lester Ralph) provide the drawings, not wanting comic drawings like those by Fred Strothmann for ADAM'S DIARY. The size of the edition is unknown.
This short story was a slender volume issued in the same red pictorial cloth and style that had been used on Twain's previously published separate stories. A curious feature of this edition is that the title-page imprint reads "London and New York" which was the usual imprint for Harper's English issues of their books. No copy has been found with the "New York and London" imprint that was used on the other Twain volumes of this period. Copies with a rubber-stamped "Printed in U. S. of America" on the copyright page were export copies for the English market. There are two states of the title-page, of unknown priority, if any. Unrecorded by BAL or Johnson is a single copy with a cancel title-page. The sheets of that copy have not been collated against others but appear to be the same, and the title-page is the same as copies with integral title-pages; the status of this copy is undetermined.
Like the other Harper printings of his separate stories, this is not a scarce book. Fine copies bring over $100, and very good copies with minimal flaking of the white lettering bring a little less. Fine copies in very good jackets will bring more than $600, and are rare.
WHAT IS MAN? New York: Printed at the De Vinne Press, 1906. BAL 3490.
Twain intended this Socratic dialogue to be a grand summation of his deterministic philosophy, and worried that publishing it in his lifetime would damage his reputation. He called it his "Gospel" and in it argued that man was never motivated by altruism, but simply ego gratification and social acceptance, a helpless pawn whose behavior was governed by heredity and conditioning. This anonymous private printing was stated to be 250 numbered copies (260 copies were actually printed), and they were all delivered to Twain, who then gave away only a handful of copies before his death four years later.
This attractive volume was bound in light grey paper-covered boards, with a very dark green skiver spine label stamped in gilt, and was issued in a plain tissue dust jacket, and boxed. A single copy is known with page 131 uncancelled (the copyright deposit copy at the Library of Congress) but all others are found with the leaf replaced. Two copies were sent to Twain for final approval before "publication" and he caught the misprint at page 131 and returned both copies for correction; apparently the only other copy sent out at that time was the copyright deposit copy. Most of the copies were undistributed by the time Twain died, and the month after his death a copy was given to one of his nieces. In the 1920s they found their way into the rare book market, probably through Albert Bigelow Paine, who was giving away copies between 1910 and 1920, and who, as literary executor, exercised some control over Twain's papers and property. The first trade edition of this text appeared in London in 1910, and the first American trade edition appeared in 1917 as the title essay in a collection of sixteen pieces. Virtually unknown to scholars, collectors, and bibliographers alike, is Paul Carus' book, THE MECHANISTIC PRINCIPLE AND THE NON- MECHANICAL (Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1913) which prints lengthy extracts from WHAT IS MAN? in which Carus would appear to be the first person to seriously study Twain in the context of determinism. This was also the first trade publication of any part of the text in America.
Because these books were sold directly into the rare book trade over a fifty year period by Michael Papantonio's Collector's Bookshop, and as late as 1972 by the Seven Gables Bookshop (Michael Papantonio and John S. Van E. Kohn), fine fresh copies in boxes still appear in the market, more often than would be expected for an edition so severely limited in size. Twain had predicted in 1906 that copies would be selling for $300 shortly after his death. Nearly ninety years later they fetch over $1,000, and rarely have the dust jacket intact. A copy inscribed by Twain has not appeared in the market for years, but now and then a copy inscribed by Paine will surface, and regardless of condition, that association value puts such copies on par with fine ones. The 1910 edition brings $250 in fine condition; the 1917 edition brings $150, but is difficult to find with the gilt not yet oxidized; and the Carus volume brings $200 and up, if you can find it.
THE $30,000 BEQUEST AND OTHER STORIES. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1906. BAL 3492.
Issued in Harper's "corn-husk" red cloth binding of the Uniform Edition, this collection of thirty-eight short stories, essays, and sketches was a mixture of new and old material. The size of the edition is unknown.
There are two states of this book, possibly printings. The first has no ads on the copyright page; the second has boxed ads listing Twain's works. The book was no doubt issued in a dust jacket, but I have not seen a copy.
Not as common as the other Harper books of this period, and often found with a faded spine. Fine copies in the first state bring $250; and $150 in the second state. Very good copies bring about two-thirds as much.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE WITH NOTES CONTAINING CORRECTIONS TO DATE. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1907. BAL 3497.
Contrary to his popular image, Twain was actually intrigued by the possibilities of "mental sciences." He wrote a number of manuscripts that explored the concept of reality existing only in the mind, but left them unfinished. In this book he primarily attacks Mary Baker Eddy, disputing her authorship of SCIENCE AND HEALTH, and questioning her motives. Harper Brothers was not eager to publish this book, but it was apparently a large edition. The size of that edition is unknown. Twain's daughter Clara later became a Christian Scientist and published several books with Harper Brothers in the 1920s and 1930s.
Like THE $30,000 BEQUEST, this volume was also bound to match the Uniform Edition. Sets of first edition sheets, including early states, were also bound up as part of the Hillcrest Edition of Twain's works, and in Harper's Library Edition. Both Johnson and BAL express complete bewilderment at the conflicting states found in the sheets of this book. Johnson spent a good deal of time worrying about broken type and repairs to that type, but those sheets occur in random combinations, indicating the use of multiple plates since they occur in random combination together with textual corrections that indicate separate printings. BAL correctly identifies two of those corrections, one in the ads on the verso of the title-page (listing 17 volumes in the Uniform Edition; later 18), and another in the setting of the page containing the list of illustrations (first set in 8 lines; later in 6). BAL overlooked a misprint in the text at page 123.2 ("Autobiograyhy") that was corrected at some point to "Autobiography." A careful study of numerous copies shows that the ads and contents leaves were corrected first, and the error at page 123 was corrected later, and that those changes may represent at least three printings. BAL also notes two states of the inserted frontispiece; one dated 1906 below Twain's facsimile signature, and the other dated 1907. I have noted a third state that carries no facsimile signature or date. As an insert, it matters less than the states of the text. I have noted three states of the dust jacket, and know of only two surviving examples of the first state jacket.
This book is fairly common, and first state copies are not difficult to find, but like other titles in the "corn-husk" binding, spine fading is a frequent problem. Fine copies can exceed $200, and very good copies are easily found for $100.
A HORSE'S TALE. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1907. BAL 3500.
Like A DOG'S TALE, this short sentimental novella just isn't short enough. Told from the horse's point of view, this is the tale of Buffalo Bill's fictional favorite scout horse (Soldier Boy), who befriends an orphan girl whom he saves from wolves. He is stolen and ends up gored in a bullfight ring; she rushes to his side and is fatally gored herself. The size of the edition is unknown.
The book was bound in red pictorial cloth, and there was, mercifully, just one printing. I have noted two states of the dust jacket. I have seen two copies of a variant printing that is otherwise unrecorded: the sheets appear to be of the first edition, but the first gathering was cancelled before binding and the title- page carries the imprint "Compliments of the Oil City Trust Co., December, 1908." The binding is in light tan pictorial cloth, identically stamped as the regular copies. This would appear to be a special issue created by Harper Brothers for the Oil City Trust Company. The only clue I have uncovered that might pertain to this mysterious format is that one E. W. Evans of Oil City, Pennsylvania built an impressive collection of Twain books, manuscripts, and letters that was sold at auction in Chicago on January 25, 1933.
This is a fairly common book, and fine copies fetch $150. Spine fading and flaking of the delicate white lettering are common, and copies with those problems bring half as much. Copies in dust jackets are usually chipped, but fetch $500 and up.
IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD? FROM MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1909. BAL 3509.
Twain was sincerely on the side of the Baconians in the Shakespeare-Bacon Controversy and he explains why in this long- winded essay. It also contains revealing autobiographical passages, and so is not without interest. Harper Brothers, as before with the Christian Science book, was not eager to publish this volume, but they prepared a large edition, the size of which is unknown.
The book was bound in green cloth, with the top edge gilt. Unrecorded, but certainly not rare, are copies with the top edge plain. There appears to have been one large printing, but it is found in three states. The first has no insert at the front or back referring to the book by Greenwood that inspired Twain to write this book (Greenwood was unhappy with Twain's liberal borrowing from his book). The two later states, of unknown priority, contain either a tipped in leaf at the front about Greenwood's book, or a two-page ad tipped in at the back. Copies are found with a rubber- stamped export stamp on the copyright page, and there are two states of the dust jacket. The American edition was issued in a printed jacket; the export copies for England were issued in a unprinted jacket with a die-cut oval on the spine to reveal the title.
The book is common in fine condition and sells for less than $150. Copies in either dust jacket bring $400 or more.
EXTRACT FROM CAPTAIN STORMFIELD'S VISIT TO HEAVEN. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1909. BAL 3511.
This book includes only a portion of the Stormfield manuscripts that Twain wrote and rewrote, starting in the 1860s after he had met Captain Ned Wakeman, who told Twain a story of visiting Heaven. Twain's vision of Heaven, and the journey required to get there, subverts most of the traditional Christian views of the place. The Heaven presented by Twain is a lot like that described by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps in THE GATES AJAR, which Twain had read years before, and which he mentions in the text. The size of the edition is unknown.
This novella, the last of his books published in his lifetime, was published in the same red pictorial cloth that Harper used for his other shorter works. Copies are found with various sheet bulks. Johnson thought copies measuring 3/4 inch across the covers were the first issue. BAL instead measures just the bulk of the sheets, and notes three different bulks of unknown priority: 9/16 inch; 5/8 inch; and 1/2 inch. I have noted three states of the dust jackets, but they do not appear to relate to the thickness of the sheets.
This book is common in fine condition and usually brings $150; copies with some effacing of the white lettering or fading bring quite a bit less. Fine copies in decent jackets turn up now and then and fetch $600 or more.
QUEEN VICTORIA'S JUBILEE. [New York?] Privately Printed for Private Distribution Only [1910?] BAL 3514.
This was a newspaper sketch written and published in 1897 while Twain was in London. Johnson did not include it in his 1910 bibliography, but in 1935 he assigned a date of 1909 to the booklet. BAL assigns a date of 1910. The edition was limited to 195 numbered copies.
The binding is crude, consisting of printed boards, trimmed flush with the text, backed with either blue, maroon, tan, or olive green cloth. I have examined three copies purportedly inscribed by Twain, and both were forgeries, leading me to suspect that someone was trying to make it appear this book appeared during Twain's lifetime. Adding to this suspicion is the fact that the paper used in the text is watermarked 1887. Very shortly after Twain's death, several artificial rarities were printed up in small numbers by various booksellers and collectors, and the practice continued into the 1920s; this book should be considered the first among them.
Needless to say, this book is uncommon, but usually turns up in very good condition since it was sold primarily to the collector's market from the very beginning. Copies fetch $800 to $1600 depending on their condition.
MARK TWAIN'S SPEECHES. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1910. BAL 3513.
This was the first collection of Twain's speeches, followed by an edition in 1923 that added twenty-one more. Both are superseded by MARK TWAIN SPEAKING (1976) which is harder to find in the first printing than either the 1910 or 1923 collections. This first collection was edited by Twain's life-long friend and fellow author, William Dean Howells. The language and cadence of Twain's oral work was quite different from his published writings, and for any of Twain's reading public who never saw him perform on stage, this collection gave a hint of his stage presence. The size of the edition is unknown.
The book was issued in the red cloth "corn-husk" binding of the Uniform Edition. Johnson notes that copies are found with the initial "R" missing from page 24.18. Because copies with the missing R generally show more type wear, they are probably a later state, but this letter could have dropped out during the course of a single printing. BAL does not even mention it.
As always with this binding, this book is subject to spine fading, but fine copies can be found for $150. In a dust jacket it brings $400 or more.
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER, A ROMANCE. New York and London: Harper & Brothers  BAL 3520.
Twain wrote volumes of manuscripts on the theme of the "mysterious stranger" and all were unpublished when he died. Albert Bigelow Paine and his editor at Harper (Frederick Duneka) waded through some of those manuscripts, editing heavily and even adding a character, and published the result under Twain's name. In 1968 the late John S. Tuckey published an edition that revealed for the first time the full extent of Paine and Duneka's well-intended meddling. In 1969 the Mark Twain Project published a scholarly edition of Twain's original texts. The size of the 1916 edition is unknown.
Despite the questionable authenticity of the text, this work was accepted as Twain's for fifty years and influenced Twain studies and Twain's public image during that time, so it cannot be ignored. It was published in black cloth, illustrated by N. C. Wyeth, with a color label on the front cover showing one of Wyeth's illustrations. The first printing has Harper's code letters (K-Q) which signify the first printing of October, 1916. One copy is known in a dust jacket, which was a printed tissue paper jacket.
Fine copies fetch $200.
MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS... New York & London: Harper & Brothers  2 vols. BAL 3525.
This was the first collection of Twain letters to be published, revealing much of the spirit of his general correspondence despite the genteel editing of Paine. This was only a sampling. The Mark Twain Project is currently publishing Twain's letters in a scholarly edition with copious and informative footnotes, and have filled five thick volumes so far, which include his letters only through 1873. By the time they get to the 1880s, each year of correspondence is likely to fill an entire volume. This original collection was number six on the best seller list the year it appeared. The size of two trade issues is unknown, but the limited edition was 350 copies.
Twain's letters were issued in three bindings. The sheets carry Harper's code letters (L-R) signifying November, 1917. BAL is incorrect about the "regular binding" and the "Library Binding." The usual binding for this set is the familiar red cloth "corn- husk" binding of the Uniform Edition (which BAL mistakenly calls the Library Edition). The true Library Edition is also red cloth, blocked in gilt on the spine, with the top edge gilt, and is a bit taller than the Uniform Edition binding. Unlike the Uniform Edition, it was issued in printed tissue dust jackets that identify it clearly as the Library Edition, and was issued in a box with a label. The third binding was for the limited edition, bound in tan quarter buckram, uncut. It was limited to 350 sets, and was issued in white printed dust jackets with yapped edges (the edges extend over the edges of the covers), and a single copy is recorded in the original box, which has a label.
Sets of Twain's LETTERS are fairly common in the Uniform Edition and Library Edition bindings, and fine sets can be had for $150. The limited edition brings $350 or more. If you find a set in dust jackets, expect to pay much more, and if you find a set in the box, consider it a reward for your years of clean living and thinking pure thoughts.
THE CURIOUS REPUBLIC OF GONDOUR AND OTHER WHIMSICAL SKETCHES. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1919. BAL 3527.
This is a collection of sixteen of Twain's early writings from the 'Galaxy' and the 'Buffalo Express.' The size of the edition is unknown.
This was issued in Boni & Liveright's Penguin Series, which also included a work by Henry James. The binding was white quarter cloth and yellow boards, printed in black. Copies are found in dust jackets more often than Twain's earlier works.
Fine copies bring $100; very good copies bring less, and copies in the dust jacket fetch $300 or more.
EUROPE AND ELSEWHERE. New York and London: Harper & Brothers  BAL 3536.
Paine edited this hodge-podge gathering of thirty-five miscellaneous short pieces, most of them appearing in book form for the first time. The size of the edition is unknown.
Issued in red cloth, gilt. The first printing carries Harper's code letters (E-X) signifying May, 1923. Copies in dust jackets are not rare.
A fine copy will fetch $75; in a dust jacket it brings $300.
MARK TWAIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1924. BAL 3527.
When Twain died he left behind a huge mass of unpublished autobiographical writings, as well as the portions of his autobiography that were published in the 'North American Review' in 1906/7. Twain's concept of autobiography was a mixture of remembrance and commentary of current events, and he ignored chronology, employing a sort of proto-stream-of-consciousness style. Paine edited this collection of Twain's more amiable autobiographical musings, half of which had already been published in 1906/7. Bernard De Voto later published Twain's less cheerful autobiographical writings as MARK TWAIN IN ERUPTION (1940). In 1959 Charles Neider published another version, putting the previously printed pieces in more or less chronological order. Finally, in 1990, Michael Kiskis published a reasonable edition, nicely cross- indexed, that preserves Twain's original breezy disorderly style. The Mark Twain Project will shortly produce a definitive edition.
The two volumes were bound in blue cloth, gilt. Some copies were sold to booksellers as unbound sheets. The first printing was produced from duplicate plates and contains the Harper code letters (H-Y) signifying August, 1924. Reprints are common since this book quickly became number seven on the best seller list the year it appeared. It was original issued in dust jackets, boxed.
Fine sets are easy to find for about $100. Copies in dust jackets bring more than twice that much, and copies with the box in any sort of condition bring still more.
MARK TWAIN'S NOTEBOOK... New York & London: Harper & Brothers, 1935. BAL 3556.
Twain kept notebooks nearly his entire career, filling fifty volumes, recording his story ideas, making diary entries, jotting down reminder notes, drafting business schemes, and noting phone numbers. Paine edited this volume, and included only a fourth of their contents. The Mark Twain Project has edited Twain's notebooks for 1855-91 in three volumes, with a scholarly commentary and full index. The size of the first edition is unknown.
The book was bound in blue cloth to match THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY and was issued in a similar dust jacket, but without a box. The first printing is coded with Harper's code (I-K) signifying September, 1935, but as BAL notes, copies marked "Second Edition" carry the same code (they were printed the same month).
A common book in fine condition that brings $100, and in a nice jacket, twice that figure.
ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. New York: Random House 
In 1885 James Fraser Gluck, the curator of the Buffalo Young Men's Library Association (now the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library), wrote to Twain asking if he would donate one of his manuscripts for preservation. Twain sent the second half of the manuscript of HUCK FINN, and the first half has been presumed lost since that time. In 1990 the first half surfaced in the hands of Gluck's descendants, and after an extended series of delicate negotiations, the manuscript was reunited at last. This is the first edition of Twain's masterpiece to present the correct and original text in its entirety.
The book was bound in white cloth that will become soiled with time, despite the tear-resistant dust jacket. The first printing of the American edition carries the code "24689753/First Edition" on the copyright page, as do the advance review copies in printed blue wrappers. The English edition, which carries the imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, carries the code "246897531/Printed in U.S.A." Was the English edition printed first? Would English editions prepared from American sheets account for so many modern first printings with number-line slugs that are coded 2 instead of 1?
The book was published at $25, is easily found, and has even been remaindered. Buying one now will prevent disappointment later.
Universally regarded as Mark Twain's masterpiece, ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (there was no THE in the title) has been praised by such diverse authors as Ernest Hemingway and T. S. Eliot, and is widely regarded as the great American novel. At the same time, it has been reviled by others because of Twain's use of the word "nigger." The word appeared in the text two-hundred and eleven times, but it also had appeared a few times in THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, ROUGHING IT, and THE GILDED AGE, without attracting notice. Written at a time when white Americans' treatment of black Americans was paternalistic at best, with an inclination toward lynching at their worst, HUCK FINN is remarkable for its portrayal of a black man who, without knowing it, is a paternal figure for a white boy. Anyone who bothers to read the book and compare the sympathetic depiction of Jim with the harsh portrait of Huck's father will find the charges of racism ironic. Huck's father is only one of many reprehensible white people who represent all that was wrong with the society that Huck ultimately rejects at the end of the novel. Twain's language was realistic, and he even draws special attention to that fact at the beginning of the novel with his 'Explanatory.' And his 'Notice to the Reader' makes it very clear that the book most certainly does has a motive, a moral, and a plot. If Twain expressed any prejudices in this book, it can be argued that the ante-bellum whites of small Mississippi River towns were squarely in his cross-hairs.
HUCK FINN has also been the subject of countless book-length studies and dissertations, has been repeatedly debated and reinterpreted by each generation of readers, has been translated into more than fifty languages, has gone through more than one- hundred and fifty American editions and more than seven-hundred foreign editions. For all that, Twain himself considered LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI his best book. JOAN OF ARC was his personal favorite in his later years, and TOM SAWYER outsold all his other titles during his lifetime.
Although the book begins with Twain's famous admonition warning readers of the consequences of reading the book in search of a motive, moral, or a plot, he never said collectors could not comb through the first edition text in search of "issue points." Where professionally trained bibliographers have tread with fear, blatherskites (to borrow a word from Twain) have rushed in and blazed a tangled trail of dead-ends, double-backs, and false sign- posts. The concern over what comprises a "first issue" of the first edition of Twain's great American novel began during Twain's lifetime and has become more and more confused with time. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that bibliographers and "issue- mongers" (a wonderful phrase popularized by the great bookman, John Carter) have been talking in various dialects over the years, but unlike the characters in HUCK FINN, they have all been trying to talk alike --and they have not succeeded. To fully understand the bibliography of this book, a solid understanding of nineteenth century printing and publishing practices is necessary, as well as a proper definition of terms. The path to this understanding may be tedious; keep a bottle of headache tablets handy.
Since the earliest days of printing in the fifteenth century, books had been printed directly from hand-set type ("standing type"). Typically, one pressman, using one setting of type would print all copies of a book one sheet at a time from one setting ("forme") of type. Depending on the format of the book being printed, that sheet might contain as few as four pages of type, printed two pages at a time ("two up") on each side (the "inner" and "outer" formes), requiring two passes through the press. After printing, say, 500 copies of the first sheet, the pressman would print 500 copies of the next sheet, and so on, until the entire text of a book was complete. If errors or damage occurred during the printing, type could be reset. In fact, if the book was lengthy and type was in short supply, a smaller printing house might be unable to set type for more than a few pages at a time, perhaps just one inner or outer forme at a time. The process was slow and sequential. But precisely because it was a sequential and relatively simple process involving only one setting of type to which all corrections were made, modern bibliographers can study the products of the early printers and draw reasonable conclusions about printing sequences from the evidence provided by the books themselves. This process changed very little for more than three hundred years.
By 1885, few books were still being printed from standing type. Increasing labor costs and new technologies forced a change. In America, stereotype plates came into common use in the 1820s, and after two decades of evolution, electrotype plates had come into common use for printing. Electrotype plates were made by making a wax mold of the standing type, brushing the wax mold with graphite to make it conductive, immersing it in an electrolyte bath as an electrode for several hours where it would become plated with a thin coating of copper, peeling that copper skin from the mold, casting a lead-zinc-tin alloy into the back of the copper skin, mounting the resulting thin "plate" on a metal or wood base, and "dressing" the finished plate for printing. Rather than keep a huge supply of standing type on hand, and be forced to store bulky and very heavy and easily spilled ("pied") typeset pages, a printer could make a set of light slender master plates from a single setting of type, making new plates as needed from the master set. Some printers made more than one set of master plates, and some simply made an extra set of molds. The type could be redistributed and reset for another book in the meantime. This represented an enormous savings of labor and space, but it did have limitations and things could go wrong. And while things went wrong in a predictable sequence during the manufacturing process, the evidence of those events did not get preserved in their original sequence in the final product: the book. With the advent of plating, printers were no longer forced to print all copies of an edition from a single setting of type, making all corrections to that single setting, as they had for four hundred years. As a result, the method of bibliographical inquiry that was appropriate for earlier printed works can no longer be applied to books printed from plates. You might want to take a couple of headache tablets now.
Plates could become damaged through use or in storage, requiring repairs. Such repairs could be made by drilling out the damaged letter or letters and inserting handset type, held firm by thin copper or brass spacers. This process was called "cutting in." Those handset letters could work loose (upward) and become damaged during printing, or drop out altogether (downward) when plates were being moved to or from the press. Also, in between making molds from the standing type, the standing type itself could become damaged from handling, so that the next casting would reflect differences from the first casting. Damage could also occur during the dressing process, when the plates were being readied for printing. In that process an awl, chisel, and router were used to remove any metal that was not supposed to print. One slip of the tool and letters, especially those at the edge of a plate, like page numbers, could be damaged or obliterated --and such damage often went undetected for long periods of time while the plates were in use on a press. Finally, just as with standing type, plates could be damaged while in the press, or simply wear down from heavy use. Because such plates were so easily duplicated and repaired, modern bibliographers can seldom be certain of any sequence when studying type damage and type wear (or perfect type or repaired plates) in a book printed from electrotype plates (electros). And electros present bibliographers with another problem that was not a factor with standing type or stereos.
Electros, unlike the stereos from which they evolved, were three times as durable because the copper skin was harder than the lead alloy which comprised the entire plate of a stereo. Standing type and stereos, as a rule of thumb, had a useful life of 2,000 to 3,000 impressions. Being able to print 6,000 to 9,000 impressions from a single electrotype plate was a great advantage, even if the odds were against any plate making it that long without some accidental damage. One printer, writing in 1906, even claimed to use electros for tens of thousands of impressions, although that practice was probably confined to reprint firms like Hearst or Grossett & Dunlap, many of whose books indeed look as if they were printed from badly worn plates. But electros had a draw-back: they could not be made as large as stereos. Stereos were quite large, containing as many as sixteen pages in a single plate. But electros, because of their delicate method of manufacture, could contain no more than four pages of an average size book like HUCK FINN. This was a minor problem for printers, who could simply combine ("gang") several smaller plates together into a single large printing plate (called a forme) for actual use in printing a gathering larger than four pages. HUCK FINN consisted of twenty- three sixteen page (eight leaf) gatherings, requiring at least ninety-two plates, or four plates per gathering. There is even some evidence that the electros were plated only two pages at a time for HUCK FINN, yielding one-hundred and eighty-four plates. This creates a serious problem for bibliographers who must keep in mind that any one of the four (possibly eight) plates used in a single gathering could be replaced at any time for a variety of reasons, while other plates in the same gathering were unchanged. And damaged plates could be replaced several different ways: with old duplicate plates, repaired plates, plates newly cast from the master plates (which could have been damaged themselves since last used to make a new casting), or plates borrowed from another press not currently in use --which could themselves be damaged. That same printer who bragged about how long he printed from a single set of plates (J. Stearns Cushing, chapter 7 of Frederick Hitchcock's THE BUILDING OF A BOOK, NY, 1906) also pointed out that repaired electros were weaker than unrepaired plates and had a tendency to "fly apart" during printing, causing serious damage to the press and other plates. For that reason, depending on the extent of the repairs, he would first "patch" a damaged plate and then take a new casting and make a new plate rather than use the old weakened plate. It is impossible to know how common this practice was among pressman in 1885. But it is certain that the pressmen replacing such plates had no reason to care whether anyone could ever reconstruct exactly what had been done, or in what order it had been done. An even further complication is the probability that multiple (if not identical) sets of plates were being used to print sheets simultaneously on different presses. Large editions and books with heavy advance orders often had to be produced quickly in this fashion, and HUCK FINN was both a large edition and had heavy advance orders. Five years before, according to Twain, A TRAMP ABROAD had been produced simultaneously in three different pressrooms. Whether they were working on different sections of the book, or printing the same sections simultaneously, is uncertain. It would be reasonable to assume HUCK FINN would have been produced in the same way.
Given the life-expectancy of electros, the first printing of HUCK FINN, which comprised 30,000 copies, probably required those ninety-two (or was it 184?) plates to be completely replaced three or four times, and it is unlikely that all ninety-two (184?) plates were replaced at the same time. It is known that the first twelve chapters of text for HUCK FINN had been set by the end of June, 1884, and the illustrations had all been electrotyped by the end of July. As work progressed, foundry proofs were sent to Twain for correction, beginning in July, and pages of standing type were being locked, two at a time, into chases (iron frames) in preparation for electrotyping. Before being electrotyped, the previously electrotyped illustrations were combined with the standing type and the entire page was then electrotyped in groups of four, or in pairs. By September 19, Webster was reporting that he was sending a set of printed sheets to Chatto & Windus as copy- text for the English edition, and that he had sent a duplicate set of electros to the Canadian publisher.
In November, after the first printing was finished and before the second printing of 10,000 copies was begun (the third printing of another 10,000 copies did not follow until March, 1885), the plates were corrected to reflect three changes in the text: at page 13 the erroneous page reference "88" was changed to "87"; at page 57 the misprint "with the was" was corrected to "with the saw"; and at page 9 the misprint "Decided" was corrected to "Decides." This last change was overlooked by Johnson, BAL, and every other bibliographer, but was noted by the Iowa-Berkeley editors of HUCK FINN. Because these three changes are documented as having been made between the first and second printings, they can absolutely distinguish the first and second printing sheets from each other. While mixing of sheets can sometimes occur during the collating or binding process, no copy of HUCK FINN has been found that does not have all three of these changes present, or all three absent. That strongly suggests that no mixing of first and second printing sheets took place. Unlike those changes made between the two printings, the corrections made to the plates during the course of the first printing are of no use in distinguishing between the two printings. And, unlike the mixing of sheets of different printings, the mixing of sheets within a printing is the norm; it is normal for sheets reflecting changes made during a single printing to be present in the bound book in various combinations. It is important to remember that the mixing of sheets within a single printing is only detectible when there are some detectible differences between the sheets themselves.
By early November, the sheets of HUCK FINN were being forwarded for binding, and within a week or two it was discovered that the illustration at page 283 had been altered in the master plate to make it appear as if Uncle Silas was exposing his penis. Twain would be amused to know that this may be the first time the word "penis" has ever been used to describe the alteration to this plate; the euphemisms and delicate phrasings employed by previous bibliographers to avoid stating the obvious are impressive. This alteration had been made very early during the course of the first printing, but remained undetected until mid-November. Webster was unable to identify the culprit because his press-room employed fifty people, all with access to the plates. Most, if not all of those employees had penises. How many presses were being used, and whether more than one set of plates were being used simultaneously in those presses, is unknown, but those fifty press-room employees produced 690,000 sheets (23 gatherings times 30,000 copies) in a three month period. Advance sales were pouring in (42,000 by year's end), and they were kept busy. By the time the ribald alteration (that's BAL's term, not mine) was discovered, the first printing was finished, and some sheets may have been in bindings, some sheets had been gathered and sewn, and some were collated but not yet sewn. Johnson interviewed the printer, J. J. Little, who reported that the offending page was cut out and replaced (cancelled) in bound copies, and that the entire gathering was replaced in unbound copies. This statement needs some clarification, because it has been misunderstood. Johnson may have misquoted Little, or Little may have forgotten some details after twenty years. Little, like most nineteenth century press foremen, might have thought of sewn sheets as bound (most old-time pressmen would have described bound copies as "cased").
No copies of the book, in cloth or in leather, show clear evidence of having had page 283 cancelled after binding. All surviving copies that contain the cancelled page, when closely examined, show evidence that the cancel took place after the sheets were sewn, but before they were nipped and trimmed for casing into the binding. It was more economical to cancel the offending leaf in sets of sheets that had already been sewn, than to disassemble such sets of sheets and resew them after inserting the corrected gathering. Surviving copies of the book show that the publisher, like most publishers before and since, chose the economical route. It would seem, then, that the handful of copies in leather that are reported with page 283 in original state (before the defacing), were bound up from sheets printed and set aside for leather bindings before the plate was defaced. It was not uncommon for publishers to have leather copies bound up at different binderies from the cloth-bound editions of their books, because leather work required special skills and took more time than mass-produced cloth casings (bindings). However, simply because sheets were set aside or sent out for the deluxe bindings, it does not follow that they were actually bound prior to the cloth copies. In fact there is some interesting evidence in this regard. You may take two more tablets at this time.
In addition to the obscene illustration, a change was made in the plate for the copyright page, correcting the copyright date from 1885 to 1884. No copies of the book exist with the 1885 copyright page in uncancelled state, including copies in leather. Leather copies, like cloth copies, are found with both the copyright page and page 283 cancelled by single leaves, or else both corrections made by replacement of the entire gatherings. I have yet to discover a leather copy with the uncancelled state of page 283, and the copyright page cancelled with a single leaf. But leather copies do exist with page 283 cancelled by a single leaf and the copyright page corrected by replacement of the entire gathering, and cloth copies are sometimes found as well. But no cloth-bound copies contain page 283 in the first state (before the defacing). While copies in cloth have been reported with the copyright page cancelled and page 283 corrected by replacement of that gathering, I have yet to examine a copy that lived up to that claim --the stubs from the cancelled leaves are often very difficult to see precisely because they were cancelled before binding, and incorrect reports about cancels are common. Cloth-bound copies of the first printing (distinguished by the uncorrected texts at pages 9, 13, and 57) occur nearly always with both the copyright page and page 283 cancelled, or with both of those leaves corrected by replacement of the entire gathering. Likewise, I have never found a copy of the second printing (with the corrected text at pages 9, 13, and 57) that had the copyright page or page 283 cancelled by excising the individual leaf; by the time the second printing began, those corrections had already been made in the plates. All of this suggests that the error in the copyright date was discovered and corrected prior to the discovery of the defaced plate, and that the corrected plate was being printed while the first printing was still in press. In twenty-five years, I have examined more than 300 copies of HUCK FINN in libraries, private collections, and in booksellers' stocks. That is a small sampling of the 40,000 copies that comprise the first and second printings, but the pattern of characteristics have been found consistent with the historical record.
While it is pretty to think that the first copies off the press were the first copies bound, that fallacy has been disproved in modern bibliography time and again. After the sheets of a book are printed, they begin what is called a "forwarding" process toward binding. During that process the sheets were first gathered, folded and collated -- put into correct order by following the signature marks, a letter or number printed in the lower blank margin of the first leaf of each gathering. If the book was illustrated with inserted plates, they were usually inserted before collating, to save time and avoid errors. Next, the end papers would be inserted, along with any advertisements that had not been printed with the sheets; sometimes such inserted ads were quite old and out of date, and sometimes they were the latest available. If the publisher was going to follow a common publishing custom and bind just half the copies immediately, and the rest as needed, this step would usually be skipped for those sheets intended for storage. Then, the sheets would be sawed for sewing, sewn, heat-pressed, glued, and trimmed. When the trimming was finished, any edge-treatment would be applied. Usually this was gilding or marbling, and with regular copies of subscription books it was often a light sprinkling or spray-mist of ink (usually red). Then the sheets were nipped -- pressed in a nipping press and the spine rounded or "knocked down" creating a recessed groove at front and back where the covers would later be joined. Finally, they would be backed, and cased into a binding.
Economic considerations drive the forwarding process, just as they drive the plating and printing processes. Typesetters, plate- makers, printers, binders, and publishers don't give much thought to bibliographers, textual scholars, or collectors. Sometimes, at any point in the process, some sheets may be pulled from the process and set aside, with the intention of sending them out as review copies, or to put into special bindings. But as plans change, all or some of those sheets might be pulled back off the shelf and resume the process at any point in time. Some of the processes take place in the pressroom, while some of the final processes take place at the bindery which may be located in a different city. At any point along the way, workers might combine two steps into one to save time, or because they have equipment that allows it. And, the larger the number of employees in a facility, the more likely there is a distinct division of labor in each step. Each time the sheets go through another step, they are stacked and restacked, or boxed and reboxed, or shelved and reshelved. When one considers the number of processes involved in the forwarding process, it becomes obvious that the first copies off the press could end up at the bottom of the stack when it comes time to case them into a binding, and become the very last copies out of the bindery. In the case of HUCK FINN, involving fifty pressroom workers and an unknown number of binders, all handling 30,000 sets of sheets over a period of weeks, if any of the first copies printed were actually the first copies bound, it occurred by accident, and nobody involved in the process would have noticed or cared.
Readers familiar with the traditional bibliographical "points" of HUCK FINN may object that I have dismissed those "points" that involve damaged plates (the missing "l" in the illustration at page 143 that was replaced at some point; the three states of page 155 involving the replacement of the final "5"; the signature mark at page 161 that was missing, but eventually replaced). Because these resulted from damage to the plates at various points within the course of the first printing, and repairs could have been made to some plates while not to others, they are of no significance in determining the sequence of the printing of the sheets. In fact, while the various states of pages 143, 155, and several other places where damage and plate repairs are obvious, there are other places where similar damage and repairs also took place: pp. 41 folio, 79.18-24, 319.last line, etc.. All of these occur at random in relation to each other within copies of the first printing, a strong indicator of the use of multiple plates, and possibly mixed sheets within the collating process. Finally, the signature mark at page 161 has never been found in a copy of the first or second printing, so it hardly warrants discussion.
Another "point" that has received a good deal of attention is the inserted frontispiece. BAL rightly makes clear that as an insert the frontispiece "has no relation to the sheets of the book." It was printed separately from the sheets, and was inserted when the sheets were being readied for sawing. For that reason, it could be considered more akin to a binding variant. Those frontispieces were not printed one at a time, but were plated and printed in pairs, groups of four, or even larger numbers. A single plate may have had more than one state of the frontispiece. BAL notes three states of the frontispiece, but I have noted two versions of BAL's first state (with the captions spaced differently), several different color variations ranging from black to violet, and at least six different dimensions of the image itself. Whatever number of plates were printed per sheet, and regardless of how many different states of the plate a single sheet originally contained, the "point" is moot (pun intended) because they were immediately cut apart for insertion after being printed. Webster had 31,000 of them printed; the extra 1,000 were a precaution against anticipated spoilage, a risk that was slightly greater when printing on coated paper or when printing a sheet that would be cut down after printing. Both the plating and insertion process involving this leaf were random. As with the binding process, nobody involved in any of the steps noticed or cared which frontispieces were inserted in a particular copy of the book.
Only a few conclusions can be asserted with certainty about the manufacturing processes involved in HUCK FINN. Whether the corrections to the title-page and page 283 were made by cancelling the individual leaves in sewn copies, or by replacing (actually just another form of cancelling) the entire gathering in unsewn copies, the cancelling all took place at the same time. In fact, it is worth remembering that the first printing of HUCK FINN was done at the same time, the cancelling was done at the same time, and the binding was done at the same time. And, it is also worth remembering that by the time the publication date rolled around in February, 1885, all or most of the second printing copies had been bound up. All of the first printing copies were published at the same time, and all or most of the second printing copies were also ready for shipment by that time.
Besides a lack of understanding of the manufacturing process, terminology has contributed to the confusion about the printing history of HUCK FINN. A clear-eyed review of some of the common bibliographical terms, as defined by a recognized authority, Philip Gaskell, should shed light on the correct use of the three terms at the heart of the confusion: printing, issue, and state. Copies of HUCK FINN are invariably described as being "first issue" or "later issue" and the term "state" is often misapplied to describe an entire copy of a book rather than the "state" of a particular page or gathering. The term "printing" has rarely been used at all. Let's define some simple terms.
The term "printing" is defined by Gaskell (who, being English, says "impression") as "all the copies of an edition printed at any one time...." It is not always possible to distinguish separate printings, but in the case of HUCK FINN, the distinction is documented by the surviving records and correspondence of the publisher, as discussed at length in the Iowa-Berkeley edition.
The term "issue" is defined as "all copies of that part of an edition which is identifiable as a consciously planned printed unit...." Webster did not consciously publish any copies of the first edition of HUCK FINN as a "planned printed unit" separate from other copies of the first edition; the term "issue" does not apply to this book. In fact, because the publisher did indeed consciously publish the first and second printing copies at the same time in February, 1885, it could be convincingly argued that the first and second printings comprise the "first issue."
The term "state" is defined as "all other variants..." and Gaskell gives five specific examples, four of which apply to HUCK FINN: "resetting as a result of accidental damage," "deletion or substitution of matter...carried out during printing," "insertion or cancellation," and "errors of imposition, or of machining...." He concludes that "differences of state are generally the attributes of individual formes, or sometimes of individual sheets." The various states that occur in HUCK FINN resulted from repairs made to the plates within the course of a single printing, and because of the random nature inherent in that process (as well as the forwarding and binding processes) the patterns of such states as found in individual copies of the book do not reflect their sequence during the manufacturing process. If the sequence of a particular state could be established, it would only establish the sequence as applied to that particular gathering, and not the copy of the book in which it is found. Because the number of duplicate plates being used for printing HUCK FINN is not known, nor whether damaged plates were repaired with type or replaced by new plates made from masters (or other duplicate plates), sequences can never be known for individual plate production, their various combinations in formes, or the sequences of sheets printed from those formes.
I would only add that "states" are easily found by anybody with 20/50 vision, and speculation about what various states might mean are the stuff that issue-mongers' dreams are made of. Only those with a detailed knowledge of both printing processes and publishing customs, and professionally trained in descriptive bibliography, can draw reliable conclusions by careful interpretation of the documented historical record.
Having reviewed these terms, some conclusions are now more easily understood. The printing history of this book clearly documents that there were two printings of the first edition, made from plates that were corrected in three places between the two printings, and copies of both printings exist with some gatherings in a variety of states resulting from damage to the plates and subsequent repairs that took place during the course of printing. And copies of both printings (with all of their various states) were bound and ready for shipment by the time publication day arrived.
None of these terms except "state" can properly be applied to bindings, and the various bindings of HUCK FINN have been the subject of debate as well. There is evidence that sheets intended for leather bindings might have been separated from other sheets at some point in the printing process, but the bibliographical evidence and historical record provide no evidence that they were actually bound before cloth copies. The copy that Twain inscribed to his wife for Christmas, 1884 was in sheep, but Webster had already reported binding up copies in cloth by that time. Blue cloth copies have often been described as earlier than green cloth copies, and it is true that blue cloth copies are rarer than green cloth copies by a ratio of at least twenty to one, but both first and second printing sheets are found in blue cloth. The prospectus provides a clear answer. HUCK FINN was promoted as a sequel to TOM SAWYER which was issued only in blue cloth and some leather bindings. The prospectus advised buyers that those who specified blue copies (who already owned TOM SAWYER and wanted their HUCK FINN to match) would get blue copies; if blue was not specified, green copies would be sent. The relative rarity of the cloth and leather bindings is clear. Less than two weeks before publication, Webster announced that he was binding 20,000 copies in cloth, another 2,500 in sheep, and 500 copies in three-quarter morocco. The remaining 7,000 copies of the first printing were probably bound up in similar proportions. Surviving copies would indicate that cloth copies held up rather well, especially considering that the book was avidly read, and that leather copies dried out, cracked apart, and have survived in even fewer numbers than the original production numbers would promise. At this point you may be resisting the temptation to scarf down that bottle of tablets.
Where does this leave the collector? As always it's a matter of personal preference. If you prefer a first printing and can afford it, you have only to worry about the three uncorrected readings at pages 9, 13, and 57. If you prefer a copy of the first printing with the first state of the frontispiece as well, buy such a copy knowing that such copies were not manufactured or sold before other copies. And keep in mind that some copies of the second printing are found with the first state of the frontispiece. If you find a copy of the first printing with the copyright page and page 283 cancelled (the usual state that is found, in fact) buy it knowing that it was further along in the forwarding process (preparation for binding) at the time the cancel was made, but that unsewn copies were being cancelled at the same time by having the entire gathering replaced and that all copies were bound at the same time. As for the various bindings, again it's a matter of personal preference, and nothing else. Leather copies are rarer, but the familiar cloth binding is the way the vast majority of Twain's contemporary readers first saw the book. The best advice is to buy a copy in the best condition that you can afford, and enjoy owning a first edition of the great American novel.
Last month, Twain's major first editions were explored in detail, and we promised to suggest some paths, with some unexpected twists and turns, that have been less trodden. Three such paths come to mind that are exciting because they present the possibility of new discoveries, and because they are still relatively affordable (affordability is always relative isn't it?): 1.) Twain's Canadian editions; 2.) his contributions to books by others; 3.) and, the endless variety of ephemera associated with his celebrity. Some of the American first editions are elusive prey, and at those times when they seem to be in hiding, Twain-hunters can divert their aim toward these smaller but equally rewarding game.
The Canadian editions
As mentioned previously, the English editions of his works have long been collected, usually for the simple reason that several of them preceded the American editions, and therefore have the status of being the true first edition. The best known example is the London edition of HUCK FINN, issued three months before the American edition. Other English editions have been collected for the sensible reason that they contained some stories or text not included in the American editions. Examples are the English edition of FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, published in England as MORE TRAMPS ABROAD with six thousand words not included in the American edition, TOM SAWYER DETECTIVE and THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG, which both included the first printings of some short stories that were not included in the American editions, and WHAT IS MAN? which was first published in a trade edition in London in 1910, four years after the anonymous privately printed American edition.
While the English editions have gotten much attention, only a handful of the Canadian editions have been collected, and they have never been fully understood because their bibliography is shrouded in confusion. The standard bibliography of Twain's works, Bibliography of American Literature (BAL), listed nearly all of Twain's English editions regardless of their status as first editions or reprints, but concentrated on those Canadian editions that preceded the American editions or included material not published in book form elsewhere. As a result, BAL reported data on only two-thirds of the Canadian printings that are known, leaving out some important ones like the first Canadian edition of Twain's first book. Because Twain spent a good deal of his time trying to prevent Canadian piracies of his work, and because some of those works, like HUCK FINN, were actually produced in cooperation with the American publisher using American plates, the Canadian editions are worthy of study and collecting.
The histories of Twain's American and Canadian editions are closely linked. Twain and his American publishers rightly viewed Canadian printers as pirates --they stole copyrighted works, after all-- but they were acting legally under the laws of Canada. The Canadian law (actually English law) that prevented American authors from being able to obtain a Canadian copyright was not unlike a similar American law that prevented foreign authors from obtaining American copyrights -- a law that Twain fought to abolish. That law allowed American publishers to pirate the works of foreign authors. The Imperial Copyright Act of England (1842) allowed an American author to obtain British copyright by publishing his work in England. Canadian booksellers could then import English or American editions of such works, by paying a 12 1/2% duty on each copy they imported, making books very expensive for Canadian readers. Canadian publishers and booksellers resented this situation which they saw as a monopoly controlled by American and British publishers. However, if Canadian publishers could get hold of a text before it was published in England, or if a work was not protected by prior publication in England, Canadian printers were free to reprint the work as they pleased, and they did this at every opportunity, producing cheap editions that sold for pennies, while the English and American editions sold for dollars.
When THE INNOCENTS ABROAD proved a best seller in 1869, Canadian publishers took notice of Mark Twain for the first time, and in 1870 a Canadian piracy appeared. Though scarce today, it must have sold well enough, for shortly after that edition, the same publisher brought out the first Canadian edition of THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG. That edition must have flopped; it was not reprinted, and only four copies in wrappers are known today (I've sold two of them, one to the National Library of Canada). Canadian publishers viewed such publications as a right of home-rule, and after the Dominion of Canada was formed in 1867, it became a matter of national pride and social equality to make reading materials available to the masses at affordable prices, something which had not been possible before. The Canadian edition of THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG was a pocket-size paperback which sold for a dime, while the New York edition was selling for a dollar. Twain may have recognized that he had missed a potential market, because when he melted down the plates of the American edition, he immediately tried to interest publishers in bringing out a cheap paperback edition. In his letters Twain expressed sympathy with the Canadian concept of cheap editions, but raged over the fact that Canadian publishers did not restrict their sales to the home market, but instead advertised their cheap editions in American newspapers for direct sale by mail to American readers. American booksellers could not legally import such editions (though many did), and these sales undercut the market for Twain's American editions.
The Canadian Copyright Law of 1875 sought to establish home-rule on copyright matters and was intended to supersede the Imperial Copyright Act in Canada, but it could not become law until ratified by the English Parliament. While Canadian publishers waited in hopes of ratification, no Canadian editions of Twain's works appeared between 1872 and 1876. When the law was not approved by the English government, Canadians resumed printing American works (including TOM SAWYER) and hoped a court would rule in their favor. And a case did quickly end up in court (not involving one of Twain's books) but the Canadian publishers lost. However, the judge wrote an opinion showing sympathy for their plight, agreeing that Canadian publishers were victims of a monopoly controlled by the English and Americans. In the meantime, the Canadians continued to reprint texts from American newspapers and magazines, and when they were restricted from printing such works themselves in Canada, they even had sheets printed in America that were then shipped back into Canada. It should be remembered that both Twain and his American publishers never objected to American newspapers reprinting entire stories from his books --they viewed such clear and continual violations of American copyright law as good advertising that would promote the sale of the American editions. Many American and English publishers regularly produced "cheap editions" of popular authors after the sale of the regular edition had run its course, recognizing that a market for cheap editions existed that did not detract from sales of the regular editions. Most people who bought the ten cent pamphlet version of a text did not have $3 to spend on the book edition. The real objection arose when Canadians produced books simultaneously with the those more expensive American editions, and offered them for sale directly to American readers.
Twain tried unsuccessfully to establish a Canadian copyright on THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER by living in Canada for a short time, but the Canadian Department of Agriculture (they were the ruling authority on such matters, and may still be for all I know) decided against him, since he was not a legal resident of Canada or England. Copyright laws continued to evolve, and with publication of LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, Twain at last solved his problems by having the English publisher, Chatto, register the Canadian copyright in his own name as a British citizen residing on British soil at the time of publication. From that point on, Twain enjoyed relatively smooth sailing with the Canadian publication of his works, first by providing American plates to an authorized Canadian publisher while simultaneously obtaining British registration of the copyright in the name of a British citizen (Chatto). When Twain later contracted with Harper Brothers, they simply published their editions in Canada through the Musson Company, their Canadian publisher and agent.
No attempt should be made to collect the Canadian editions without careful consultation of BAL and the solidly documented 60pp. article by Gordon Roper that appeared in volume V (1966) of 'Cahiers de la Societie Bibliographique du Canada' (Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada). This was a slightly expanded version of his article on the same subject published in 'The American Book Collector' for June, 1960 (X:10:13-38), which is easier to find. Roper explains in masterful detail the mind-bending convolutions of the changing copyright laws of three countries, their relation to each other, Twain's reactions during the two tortuous (and torturous) decades (1870-1891), and provides a checklist of the Canadian editions more complete (but less detailed) than BAL. For the collector, the books themselves offer much appeal. Some are horrid little paperbacks printed on brittle paper, every copy a miracle of survival. Others are remarkable imitations of the American editions. Still others carry original Canadian illustrations or screeds by the publishers against "restrictive" copyright laws. And some, produced directly from American plates, and later, using American sheets, can rightly be viewed as the Canadian issues of the American editions. Still others are bibliographically significant: it was unknown to collectors, bibliographers, and Twain scholars until 1998, but the first attempt at a collected edition of Twain's works was an effort by a Canadian publisher who gathered the thin paperback printings of his separately printed works into a single cloth-bound volume in 1882; unfortunately, only one copy of this volume has survived --I sold it to a major university library. Finally, Canadian editions offer the chance for significant new discoveries; the first Canadian edition of THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT was completely unknown and unrecorded until I recently discovered a copy --also sold to yet another major university library. Collectors may be behind the curve on Twain's Canadian editions, but libraries aren't, and if they keep snapping up the best ones, the rarity of these printings in the open market will only accelerate, and few will reappear for sale in years to come. Twain's Canadian editions are far more varied and often as colorful as the American editions. Twain did not ignore them, and neither should the collector.
Mark Twain's contributions to others' books
Twain was always in demand to endorse worthy causes, or provide prefaces to the books of aspiring authors. He wrote prefaces to several books by his friends, and on a few occasions he convinced a publisher to reprint some book he had read and thought deserved a wider audience. He wrote letters of endorsement that were frequently reproduced in others' books, but just as often he found his speeches, statements, quotes, and letters used without his permission. No bibliography has located all of the examples of the authorized uses of his work, and unauthorized examples are being discovered every year. Because they reveal facets of Twain's personality that are not always reflected in his regularly published works, they have a place in the Twain canon, and present a genuine challenge to the most intrepid collector. The examples described are merely representative of the hundreds that exist.
OVERLAND SKETCHES BY F. BRET HARTE, MARK TWAIN, CHAS. W. STODDARD AND OTHERS. New York: Thomas O'Kane, Bookseller & Stationer [circa 1870] From the covers, this looks like a paperback collection of stories by the three authors, but it's a classic example of what is known as a "twilight book." When publishers found themselves saddled with piles of unsold magazines, they sometimes resorted to reissuing the magazine sheets disguised as a book. The magazine disguised here is the first issue (July, 1868) of 'The Overland Monthly' which contains the first printing of Twain's 'By Rail Through France' which was incorporated into THE INNOCENTS ABROAD in 1869. BAL was able to date this later format on the basis of the publisher's street address on the rear wrapper. BAL noted only the July, 1868 issue (Vol. I, number 1) in this format, but the May, 1869 issue (Vol. II, number 5) is also found in this twilight format with the very same wrappers listing Twain as a coauthor -- even though that issue contained no Twain material. BAL 3589.
Marsh, Andrew J. MARSH'S MANUAL OF REFORMED PHONETIC SHORT-HAND. San Francisco: Bancroft, 1868. Bound in plain gilt-lettered black cloth, this manual for law clerks and court reporters contained Twain's 'Woman.' It was so popular a manual, that copies were fetching $15 by 1884 when a second edition was published. The popularity had nothing to do with Twain, however, whose most valuable first edition in 1885 was listed at $3 in a rare book catalogue. This little book was not the first time Twain and Marsh appeared in print together. In 1863 Marsh and Twain had written reports for the 'Territorial Enterprise' on the first constitutional convention held in the Nevada Territory. Marsh took down the proceedings in shorthand and Twain transcribed them, no doubt editing as he pleased. Although no 1863 files for that newspaper are known to exist, clippings saved in a scrapbook kept by Twain's brother, Orion, were used to publish an account of that convention in 1972 by Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau. BAL 3314.
Price, J., and C S. Haley. THE BUYER'S MANUAL AND BUSINESS GUIDE. San Francisco: Francis & Valentine, 1872. Copies are found bound in black, blue and red cloth, gilt, and are difficult to find in fresh condition. The cover title is entirely different from the title- page: TALES, SKETCHES, POETRY & MUSIC. The contents are a combination of the two --the book is a business guide with a generous mixture of original poetry and fiction sprinkled among the mercantile text and advertisements, including the first book appearance of Ambrose Bierce, as well as pieces by Twain ('The Public to Mark Twain'), Bret Harte, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and Joaquin Miller. BAL 3348.
Tyler, Rev. Josiah. LIVINGSTON LOST AND FOUND, OR AFRICA AND ITS EXPLORERS. Hartford: Mutual Publishing Co., 1873. Usually found in green cloth, gilt, but like Twain's own subscription books, copies were also issued sheep and three-quarter morocco bindings. It contains the first of Twain's speeches to be printed in a book, his hilarious 1872 speech on Stanley and Livingston. BAL 3353.
Pike, Gustavus D. SINGING CAMPAIGN FOR TEN THOUSAND POUNDS OR THE JUBILEE SINGERS IN GREAT BRITAIN. New York: American Missionary Association, 1875. The English edition was published in 1874, but only makes a passing reference to Twain's support for this famous group of singers. Several prominent people of the day wrote paternalistic or condescending letters of endorsement. This revised American edition was the first to print the text of Twain's letter, in which he recalls growing up with slaves owned by his father, enthusiastically endorses the group's fund-raising efforts, and pointedly remarks that no white person could ever truly understand the feelings expressed in the old slave songs this group sang. In Twain's last years, his favorite piano piece was a Chopin nocturne (Opus 37, Number 2) that his daughter Clara played, but when Twain himself played the piano, he only played and sang "the old Negro spirituals." Overlooked by BAL and Johnson, although Johnson cites a separate broadside printing of the letter used to promote the book.
Wright, William. HISTORY OF THE BIG BONANZA. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1876. Bound in decorated mauve cloth, gilt, and difficult to find in acceptable condition. Copies were also issued in sheep and three-quarter leather. Twain wrote the brief introduction. The book sold poorly; in the first five months, only 2,173 copies were sold. Wright, better-known as Dan De Quille, was a close friend of Twain from his Nevada days, and he and Twain wrote each other simultaneously with the idea of doing this kind of book, which piqued Twain's interest in "mental telegraphy," which he later explained in two essays. BAL 3370.
Wakeman, Edgar "Ned." THE LOG OF AN ANCIENT MARINER, BEING THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN EDGAR WAKEMAN. San Francisco: Bancroft, 1878. Bound in various colors of cloth, gilt. Contains a few stories by and about Twain. Wakeman was the captain of the steamship Quaker City, which carried Twain on the voyage that resulted in THE INNOCENTS ABROAD. Wakeman, quite a story-teller, was the model for Captain Stormfield (1909) and other figures in Twain's fiction. BAL 3379.
Sargent, Mrs. John T. SKETCHES OF THE RADICAL CLUB. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1880. Bound in various colors of cloth, gilt. Twain once attended a meeting of the club when the topics of evolution and the transmigration of the soul were discussed. After the meeting he walked down the street explaining to his companions that his problem was that he had inherited a worn-out second-hand soul. His comments are quoted in full. Although Johnson recorded this volume, BAL forgot to include it in the Twain section after having included it earlier in the Bronson Alcott section. BAL 120.
Carolino, Pedro. NEW GUIDE OF THE CONVERSATION IN PORTUGUESE AND ENGLISH. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883. Bound in salmon wrappers, various colors of cloth, and even sets of unbound sheets survive as a result of Osgood's bankruptcy a few years after publication, before all copies had been bound up for sale. Twain discovered the phrase book, convinced Osgood to reprint it, and wrote the preface. Carolino's guide was a serious attempt, but because he was illiterate in English (and perhaps Portuguese as well) the result was hopelessly mangled syntax and amusing non sequiturs: "That are the dishes whose you must be and to abstain," and "The streets are very layed out by line and too paved." are just two snippets of practice dialogue. BAL 3412.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES... 49TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION. REPORT NO. 1188. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office [May 21, 1886] Bound in sheep, like most government reports of the day. Contains Twain's comments on copyright. In 1905 Twain appeared in his famous white suit on the floor on Congress to speak again on the subject. BAL 3419.
Le Bow, Caroline B. ENGLISH AS SHE IS TAUGHT. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887. Twain wrote an enthusiastic forty page review of this book for 'The Century Magazine' (April, 1887) which is reprinted here as a "commentary." Twain was charmed by Le Bow's compilation of children's off-the-mark answers to test questions. An American edition of her work appeared the same year but contained only a brief extract from Twain's review. Twain's entire commentary was first printed in book form in America in 1900. BAL 3420.
Traubel, Horace L. CAMDEN'S COMPLIMENT TO WALT WHITMAN. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1889. Bound in maroon cloth, gilt. This volume was a memorial of Whitman's seventieth birthday dinner and includes speeches, as well as letters of regret from those who could not attend, including Twain's long letter of admiration. Although noted by Johnson, BAL overlooked the Twain letter but did record the book in the Whitman section. BAL 21436.
Wilder, Marshall P. PEOPLE I'VE SMILED WITH. New York: Cassell, 1889. Bound in striking two-tone cloth applied to the binding in a diagonal pattern, gilt. Wilder was a dwarf who enjoyed a successful career as a stage comedian. His memoir includes accounts of two conversations he had with Twain, whom he quotes. Not recorded by Johnson or BAL.
Bainton, George. THE ART OF AUTHORSHIP. LITERARY REMINISCENCES, METHODS OF WORK, AND ADVICE TO YOUNG BEGINNERS. London: James Clarke & Co., 1890. (and New York: D. Appleton, 1891). Bound in blue pictorial cloth, gilt. The editor solicited a letter from Twain that is among his most frequently quoted: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a huge matter-- 'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." The list of other contributors is an impressive cross- section of English and American authors: Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wilkie Collins, James Russell Lowell, George Washington Cable, R. M. Ballantyne, Robert Browning, H. Rider Haggard, G. A. Henty, Thomas Hardy, William Dean Howells, Christina Rossetti, George MacDonald, Celia Thaxter, Charles Dudley Warner, Lew Wallace, and W. E. H. Lecky (whose work on the evolution of morality in western civilization profoundly influenced Twain's writings). BAL 3430.
LIBER SCRIPTORUM. THE FIRST BOOK OF THE AUTHOR'S CLUB. New York: The Author's Club, 1893. The edition was 251 numbered copies, each signed by nearly all 109 contributors, including Twain ('The Californian's Tale'), Theodore Roosevelt, W. D. Howells, and Andrew Carnegie. Printed on handmade paper by Theodore DeVinne and bound in full leather. The book sold new for $100 a copy (an enormous sum for a book in 1893). The production of this book was a logistical nightmare. The signatures had to be obtained by sending the unbound gatherings to each author; some gatherings had to be signed by more than one author, and the authors were scattered all over the planet. Percival Lowell (the astronomer) was in Japan, and his signature is present in each copy in the form of an autographed slip of paper, tipped in. A far less interesting companion volume was published in 1921, and contains no Twain material. BAL 3438.
PUDD'NHEAD WILSON'S CALENDAR FOR 1894. New York: The Century Co., 1893. This tiny little leaflet was issued to promote the appearance of Twain's novel in 'The Century Magazine.' It contains Twain's well-known aphorisms for each month, but it is unclear whether Twain approved or participated in the production. It occurs in three states of unknown priority, but because of the miniature format it would have been printed from multiple sheets on a rotary press, and the states are most likely simultaneous. BAL notes a reprint for 1897, and I have found reprints of 1899 and 1904 by Twain's lecture agent, James B. Pond, issued to promote the successful Frank Mayo dramatization of PUDD'NHEAD WILSON. BAL 3439.
Furneaux, J. H. GLIMPSES OF INDIA, A GRAND PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY OF THE LAND OF ANTIQUITY, THE VAST EMPIRE OF THE EAST... London: International Art Co.  This English edition, limited to 1,000 numbered copies for American issue (designated The Imperial Edition) is the only one to contain Twain's letter of endorsement, dated at Bombay, India, January 23, 1896. The previous editions contain no letter. Unrecorded by Johnson and BAL.
Cheiro, Louis Hamon. CHEIRO'S GUIDE TO THE HAND. New York & London: F. Tennyson Neely Saxon & Co. [July, 1898] Issued in black and white pictorial stiff wrappers, as number 84 in Neely's Choice Library series. Contains Twain's comment on having his palm read by the famous psychic. The Neely edition is virtually unobtainable, but the Rand McNally edition of 1900 is collectible as the first book edition. The Rand McNally copies with the dual New York & London imprint were made up of Neely sheets with a cancel title- page; those with just the New York imprint were reprinted from the original plates on better quality paper. Unrecorded by Johnson and BAL.
Pond, James B. ECCENTRICITIES OF GENIUS. New York: Dillingham, 1900. Bound in maroon and green cloth, gilt. Pond was Twain's lecture agent, and he accompanied Twain in his last journey across America, which was the first leg of Twain's world tour to raise money to pay his debts, which resulted in FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR (1897). Pond prints two speeches, a letter, and numerous conversations. BAL 3461.
Depew, Chauncey M. THE MAN IN THE STREET STORIES. New York: J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Company, 1902. Bound in various colors of pictorial cloth. This collection of 634 stories from the 'New York Times' includes nine about Twain, none of which seem to be otherwise recorded. Not recorded by Johnson or BAL.
[Jordan, David Starr] HAWAIIAN FISHES [Honolulu:] Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company  Bound in silk-tied printed wrappers. This collection of twenty color plates of exotic fish by Julien Bien, extracted from Jordan's massive report to the United States Fish Commission, contains an extract of Twain's comments on the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Not all printings of this book contain the Twain extract. Not recorded by Johnson or BAL.
Harte, Bret. THE LECTURES OF BRET HARTE. Brooklyn, New York: Charles Meeker Kozlay, 1909. The regular edition was bound in cloth but 100 copies were numbered and issued in a flexible suede binding. Contains the first printing of Twain's memorable letter on the English pirate, John Camden Hotten. BAL 3510.
White, Ida Belle. SPIRITS DO RETURN. Kansas City, Missouri: The White Pub. Co., 1915. Most authors stop writing after they're dead, but not Mark Twain. His spirit returned and helped Ida Belle write her book, or so she says. Her book had limited circulation and is quite scarce. Two years later, Twain, ever the friendly ghost, rose once again, this time via ouija board, and helped Emily Grant Hutchings write JAPN HERRON, published by Mitchell Kennerley. Harper Brothers sought an injunction against Kennerley for his use of the trademark name and image. The case never came to trial, but Kennerley recalled in 1940 that very few copies were sold, and the remaining copies were supposedly destroyed; the book is uncommon. The dust jacket, rarely seen, contains perhaps the earliest portrait of Twain on a dust jacket. An unintentionally hilarious account of the psychics who "received" JAP HERRON from Twain is given in Hyslop's CONTACT WITH THE OTHER WORLD (1919). The trans- Atlantic craze for communicating with the dead finally died of exposure by the late 1920s, but not before making Arthur Conan Doyle, who was not quite so deductive as his famous fictional detective, look awfully silly. Twain's ghost seems to have had writer's-block in recent decades, but you never know...oooooowwooo
Mark Twain ephemera
Ephemera swirls in the wake of every author; more for some; less for others. Because of his celebrity status, Twain generated a mass of ephemera churning in his wake. Publisher's announcements, interviews, speeches, testimonials, and advertising are just some examples. Nearly all of his life he gave lectures, speeches, and after-dinner talks --all printed and reprinted in a variety of formats. His publishers promoted his works heavily through lavish prospectuses. He always seemed to find time to lend a hand to worthy charities. Local and international politics rarely escaped his notice or comment. His pronouncements and his image were used without his knowledge and out of context to promote everything from cigars to vacation resorts. The variety of ephemera about Twain that can be collected seems infinite, and the examples given provide a cross-section of what exists and provide clues to what still may remain to be uncovered. Some add to the known canon; others simply help reconstruct Twain's contemporary public image. One caveat: the distinction between Twain's primary writings, his contributions to others' works, and true ephemera, often seems blurred. But ephemera is defined by its format and life-expectancy rather than the bibliographical status of the contents.
TICKET GOOD FOR STEAMSHIP AMERICA, SAN FRANCISCO TO NEW YORK, VIA NICARAGUA. San Francisco [blank line for day of month] 1866. When Twain left California to seek his fame and fortune (and a publisher for his first book) he began by boarding this steamship on its last trip for 1866 (December 15). When Twain reached the Isthmus of Nicaragua on December 30, he surrendered his ticket (as required, according to instructions printed on the ticket), crossed the isthmus, and continued to New York. Recently the surviving unissued tickets were discovered for that very ship, left over from that very same voyage, a remarkable piece of ephemera that evokes the moment when Twain literally stood on the brink of his career.
'Forty-Three Days in an Open Boat.' Harper's New Monthly Magazine for December, 1866. Issued in buff printed wrappers, but more often found bound up in six month batches by the publisher. This was Twain's first writing to appear in a national magazine. The month before, his story of the jumping frog had been printed in a New York newspaper and was already being spread across America by other newspapers. The index of the bound copies lists Twain as "Mark Swain." Bummer.
W. GEORGE, DEALER IN DRY AND FANCY GOODS. Bristol, New Hampshire [circa 1880] This advertising card features a lithograph portrait of a youthful Twain with the caption, "S. H. Clemmens, Mark Twain." At least they got the Twain part right.
THE GAME OF AUTHORS. Salem: West & Lee Game Company, 1873. In original box, with label, complete. This game consists of thirty- two authors featured on sixty-four cards, divided into eight categories (Humorists, Novelists, Journalists, Historians, etc.) A version of this popular game was advertised in November, 1869 as including Mark Twain, but no example of that version of the game can be located, nor is that publisher or that version of the game recorded in any card game bibliographies. This edition by West & Lee is the earliest version of this popular card game that I have seen that includes Mark Twain. For the rest of his life, he was included in most editions of this game, which was reprinted in more than 200 versions by many publishers, each with different numbers of cards.
Gilmore, J. H. A SYLLABUS OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE. Rochester, New York: Privately Printed, 1876. Original printed wrappers. Issued by Gilmore for the use of his students, and listing Twain among those worthy of study. This is the earliest evidence I have seen of Twain being taught in the classroom.
MARK TWAIN'S SCRAPBOOK. New York: Daniel Slote, 1877. One of several inventions by Twain, this one was successfully marketed by his friend. Although patented in 1873 it was not produced until 1877, and was issued in a dizzying array of bindings and formats, ranging from cheap paper wrappers to heavily gilt full leather, from pocket size (3 1/2 x 8 inches) to small folio (11 x 16 inches). Some were indexed, tabbed, or had numbered pages, and at least one late example (1902) had a dated title-page. A 1901 catalogue issued by Dan Slote Company listed fifty-seven different formats, each available in two or three different colors. The pages were self-pasting, and contrary to legend, worked rather well as long as unused leaves were not exposed to damp; we have seen copies used over a twenty year period with no indication of unused leaves sticking together.
SEVENTY-FIRST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE NEW-ENGLAND SOCIETY OF NEW YORK AT DELMONICO'S, DEC. 22, 1876. Twain's contributions to the 1878 and 1883 celebrations are recorded, but this one containing his famous speech about the weather, was overlooked by Johnson and BAL. Since MARK TWAIN SPEAKING was only able to provide a composite text of this speech based on an incomplete newspaper account and other sources, this printing is significant. It seems to be a verbatim transcript, even noting points where Twain was interrupted by the laughter of his 200 listeners.
THERE'S MILLIONS IN IT! New York: George W. Averell, 1877. Small broadside poster, gilt, with a lithograph image of actor John T. Raymond in his role as Col. Sellers in the dramatic version of THE GILDED AGE. Souvenir photographs of Raymond in this role, as well Raymond and Twain together, were also published. Raymond made the role famous, and his words became a nationally recognized catch- phrase.
SOCIETY OF ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE. [sic] THIRTEENTH ANNUAL BANQUET. Chicago, November 13, 1879. Small broadside program printed on sold and silver silk, listing Twain last on the program. The banquet was attended by General Grant and 600 Civil War veterans. Twain delivered his toast to babies at 3:30 AM from atop a table at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, where antiquarian book fairs have been held until recently. Rumors of booksellers atop tables at 3:30 AM persist, but they traditionally have been under the tables by that time.
DON'T FAIL TO SMOKE MARK TWAIN CIGARS. New York: Heppenheimer & Naurer [circa 1880] This lithographed advertising card reproduces the portrait of Twain that appeared as the frontispiece to A TRAMP ABROAD (1880). Cigar boxes for Mark Twain Cigars (some with the cigars still inside) are seen now and then, but were produced up to twenty years after his death, and should not be confused with those advertised here.
Haweis, Hugh Reginald. AMERICAN HUMORIST. MARK TWAIN. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, February 12, 1883. Issued in wrappers and cloth by the publisher, together with others in the series. Haweis was known as a "radical curate" and was a close friend of many American authors, notably, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Exactly one month later a reprint of this work was issued by John Alden of New York, also in wrappers and cloth bindings. This is apparently the first separately issued study of Twain's life and works.
Cable, George Washington. PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL. MY DEAR MR. [blank space for name of recipient] This form letter was sent out to 150 friends of Twain in 1884, asking each of them to send Twain a letter requesting his autograph, timing them to arrive on April Fool's Day. The plan worked, and Paine gives a full account of Twain's reaction.
[Lathrop, George Parsons] A MEMORIAL OF AMERICAN AUTHORS. [n.p., n.d., possibly R. R. Bowker, 1885] This pamphlet contains facsimile signatures of the 129 authors who supported international copyright legislation that was being considered by Congress. R. R. Bowker, whose namesake company is a major force in publishing today, spoke before Congress in January, 1886 and mentioned this very pamphlet which he said had been mailed to every member of Congress. Twain spoke at the same hearing. Besides Twain, the legislation was endorsed by Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Orne Jewett, Joel Chandler Harris, William Dean Howells, and John Greenleaf Whittier, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
A FEW OF HIS FRIENDS TO LAURENCE HUTTON, MARCH 31, 1885, AT THE TILE CLUB ROOMS. This menu was for a dinner in honor of Hutton, shortly after the publication of HUCK FINN, where Twain met Helen Keller for the first time. Twain delivered a speech, 'On Speech- Making Reform.'
NEW HAVEN OPERA HOUSE PROGRAMME, MONDAY NIGHT, MAY 25TH 1885. Single sheet folded to four pages; this program contains a lengthy announcement for the dramatic version of TOM SAWYER starring Mollie Revell as Tom.
PACKARD'S SHORT-HAND REPORTER AND AMANUENSIS. New York: Lottie H. Packard and J. N. Kimball, January, 1885. Self-wrapper. This leaflet contains a letter from Twain regarding his use of stenographers to draft rough notes for his books, but stating that he would never dictate a book for publication. It also contains a short-hand extract from A TRAMP ABROAD. Twain changed his mind about dictating a book a few years later and filled more than one- hundred Edison wax cylinders with dictations for THE AMERICAN CLAIMANT (1892) before abandoning the scheme. None of those cylinders are known to survive, nor any other authentic recording of his voice, although several others were made. In the last few years of his life he hired a stenographer (in addition to his private secretary and other household staff) and experimented dictating his autobiography, which Twain considered a success, but critics have judged a failure.
MARK TWAIN-CABLE READINGS. November 6, 1884 is the earliest date seen; February 9, 1885 the latest. Small card with program of readings, including extracts from HUCK FINN. Between November, 1884 and February, 1885, Twain and his fellow author, George Washington Cable, went on a lecture tour, making 103 appearances. The program cards were printed on glazed or coated paper stock that would not "rattle" when bent, and the cards were kept smaller than normal programs because people would otherwise use them as fans, distracting Twain and Cable during their readings.
Cutter, Bloodgood. LONG ISLAND FARMER'S POEMS. New York: N. Timbals, 1886. Bound in various colors of cloth, and it sometimes seems that all surviving copies are inscribed by the author, who also regularly published his poetic effusions in broadside form for his friends. Cutter was an independently wealthy Long Island farmer who was on board the 'Quaker City' for the voyage that Twain immortalized in THE INNOCENTS ABROAD. Cutter was an amiable fellow but a horrible poet and Twain dubbed him the "poet larriat" of the party of pilgrims, which Cutter took as a compliment and even included on the title-page of this book. He also included a portrait of Twain, and mentions him in his poem about the voyage. What Cutter probably did not know was that Twain included his works in his private "library of literary hogwash," a collection of literature, mostly poetry, that was so bad it was good. Another author who shared that distinction was Julia Moore, the 'Sweet Singer of Michigan.' Below a crude woodcut of Cutter's late wife appears a quatrain that only hints at the full powers of Cutter's poetic prowess: "This is a likeness of my wife,/ The last part of her mortal life;/ Emeline Allen was her name/ Before our marriage changed the same."
LIFE OF MARK TWAIN. [New York: Knapp & Company, 1887] Original color pictorial wrappers. This anonymous thumb-nail biography was issued in miniature form and inserted in packs of Duke's Cigarettes as part of their series, 'Histories of Poor Boys Who Have Become Rich and Other Famous People.' Series books have always been a popular marketing tool, and the names of various series have ranged from memorable to uninspired; this has to be the oddest series name ever concocted. Duke Cigarettes also issued two insert cards featuring Twain. The date is inferred from the fact that the biography describes Twain's life through October, 1886.
AUTHORS' READINGS FOR THE LONGFELLOW MEMORIAL FUND AT THE BOSTON MUSEUM. Boston: Industrial School Press, 1887. This leaflet contains the program of the benefit with readings by Twain, Julia Ward Howe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Dean Howells, Edward Everett Hale, and others, but does not say what they were to read. Twain headed the list. However, a letter from Twain dated March 17, 1887, requested proofs of 'English as She is Taught' from 'The Century Magazine' that he could use to "patch together a ten minute speech" for this event.
ONTARIO BEACH, AN OPEN LETTER TO MARK TWAIN. New York: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck & Co., 1889. Promotional leaflet, accordion folded. This advertising piece prints the purported text of a letter from John Phoenix (the pen-name of George H. Derby, a friend of Twain and fellow humorist) to Mark Twain, extolling the virtues of this resort. Derby had died in 1861.
LITERARY TALES NO. 1. Boston: Boston Home College [circa, 1890] Self-wrappers. This advertising leaflet for a correspondence school includes letters solicited from famous authors on "how to succeed in literature." The advice Twain provides is not recorded elsewhere. Others who responded with advice included Wilkie Collins, J. R. Lowell, George MacDonald, Lew Wallace, and Bret Harte. The date is inferred from the fact that Wilkie Collins was described as recently deceased (d. 1889) and James Russell Lowell was still alive (d.1891).
MARK TWAIN'S MEMORY BUILDER. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1891. Twain invented this boring board game, which was a flop. But that failure was fortunate for collectors, since a large quantity of unsold examples were preserved for many years among the papers of one of Twain's nieces, and eventually entered the market; if not for that, it would otherwise have become unobtainable. The complete game consists of the playing board (two large sheets of paper glued to a muslin-lined wooden frame), a leaflet listing names and dates (FACTS FOR MARK TWAIN'S MEMORY BUILDER), and a box of common pins that were to be stuck in the board as the game progressed (half are steel; half are brass). The leaflet is the primary entry in BAL, but that is misleading since it contains no writing that can be directly attributed to Twain. The backside of the playing board, however, contains Twain's detailed instructions on how to play the game. The playing board is usually found by itself. BAL 3432.
THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD'NHEAD WILSON AND THE COMEDY THOSE EXTRAORDINARY TWINS. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1894. Prospectus for the book, bound in decorated rust-brown decorated cloth, gilt, with sample leaves of the text and illustrations, samples of the leather bindings at front, and subscriber pages at rear. Prospectuses were printed and bound for all of Twain's subscription books, in print runs of 1,000 to 3,000 copies. It is a common misconception that they were only printed and issued before the book was published, but in several instances they were reprinted as needed when a book was popular. They frequently contain early states of some text leaves and provide clues to the publication history of the books themselves. FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR (1897) was the last of Twain's individual books to be sold by subscription by agents using prospectuses, and it is the most easily acquired prospectus. Despite the late date, PUDD'NHEAD WILSON is one of the rarer examples, as are the prospectuses for THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER and THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER.
[Harper's Magazine Posters] Four posters feature Twain's works as they appeared in Harper's: April, 1895 ('Joan of Arc'), September, 1895 ('Mental Telegraphy Again'), August, 1896 ('Tom Sawyer, Detective'), and March, 1898 ('Stirring Times in Austria'). Three were designed by Edward Penfield.
PROSPECTUS FOR 1899-1900. THE CENTURY MAGAZINE. New York: The Century Magazine, 1899. Buff printed wrappers. One of several prospectuses and advertising booklets for this magazine, announcing the forthcoming appearance of Twain's various works. In this case, an extract from Twain's AUTOBIOGRAPHY is printed, but the chosen title is confusing. The work that actually appeared was 'My Debut as a Literary Person' and the series of pieces known as CHAPTERS FROM MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY did not appear until 1906/7 in 'The North American Review.' It was 'The Century Magazine' that had published the first chapters from HUCK FINN in 1884, before the book had been published.
DINNER TO SAMUEL L. CLEMENS BY THE ALDINE ASSOCIATION. New York, December 4, 1900. Printed invitation and large seating chart for this major dinner held in Twain's honor, one of hundreds that Twain endured. Twain delivered a speech. This invitation was sent to Twain's nephew, Samuel Moffett, who had written a biographical sketch of his uncle in 1899. When Moffett drowned a few years later, Twain published a tribute to his nephew.
SAVAGE CLUB MENU. Saturday, July 7, 1900. Menu card, inscribed by Twain with the aphorism, "Punctuality is the thief of time." This is an inversion of Benjamin Franklin's saying from Poor Richard, "Procrastination is the thief of time," and was probably inspired by Twain's habit of showing up at the last moment for his dinner speech engagements to avoid the boredom of sitting through the other speakers. Twain was an admirer of Franklin's autobiography but loved to poke fun at his pious work ethic. A history of the Savage Club was published in 1907, including a chapter on Mark Twain's connection with his fellow savages.
MARK TWAIN FLOUR. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Voigt Milling Company [circa 1900] Promotional letter announcing 'Mark Twain Flour' as a "recent addition" to their line of products, an unused five pound flour sack, and an unused twenty-five pound flour sack. The company was founded in 1898, added Mark Twain Flour to their line by 1900, continued marketing under that name until 1951, and went out of business in 1955. They may hold the record for exploiting Twain's name and image longer than any other company.
Pond, James B. LYCEUM ASPIRANTS, MARK TWAIN'S ADVICE. [New York. circa 1900-1903] Leaflet with self-wrapper. Pond was Twain's lecture agent and had published his account of their association in his ECCENTRICITIES OF GENIUS (1900), from which this text is extracted. Pond died in 1903, hence the supposed date.
EDMUND BURKE ON CROKER & TAMMANY. [New York: Order of Acorns, 1901] Grey printed wrappers. First edition. Croker was the chief of the infamous Tammany Hall political machine and was running for mayor of New York. Twain published this attack on Croker, closely following the text of Edmund Burke's attack on Warren Hastings, the corrupt eighteenth century governor of India who headed the East India Company. Hastings was bankrupted by a seven year trial but ultimately found innocent. Croker was luckier; he just lost the election. BAL 3468.
TO THE PERSON SITTING IN DARKNESS. Reprinted by Permission of the North American Review, February, 1901. First edition. Self-wrapper. The New York Anti-Imperialist League claimed to have distributed 125,000 copies of this pocket size leaflet, but its scarcity makes that claim seem doubtful. BAL 3470.
Montgomery Ward. ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE OF THE BEST BOOKS EMBRACING ALL SUBJECTS. [Chicago, circa 1901-2] Montgomery Ward issued their first broadside advertising sheet in 1872, and their first catalogue in 1874. This 352pp. catalogue is the earliest Montgomery Ward book catalogue I have seen. It includes a crude woodcut of Twain, and advertises his books at 30% to 40% off the "publisher's price." Whether they were offering American Publishing Company or Harper printings is unknown, and how they could offer such deep discounts remains a mystery.
MARK TWAIN'S BIRTHDAY, REPORT OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE SIXTY- SEVENTH THEREOF AT THE METROPOLITAN CLUB. New York: [Privately Printed, 1903] Red boards, gilt. An account of the dinner, including Twain's speech, a seating chart, an illustration of a copper plate etching given by Twain to each guest, and a frontispiece portrait by Sarony. The Sarony portrait was taken years earlier and its presence in this souvenir book irritated Twain, which Twain makes very clear in his inscription in this copy, his own. The copper plate etching was a reproduction of a self-portrait by Twain, and each one contained a special panel in which Twain inscribed them individually to each guest.
THE INVALID'S STORY. Berkeley, Cal.: F. B. & F. Printing, 1903. First separate edition of this story from THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT (1882). Original plain wrappers. Unrecorded, and only one other copy is known, also in a private collection. This miniature booklet was limited to twenty numbered copies, and it consists of five crudely printed two-leaf gatherings. This very strange format indicates that the printer was using a very small hand-press, probably a table-top model, that could only handle a very small two-page forme. F. B. and F. were probably the hobby printers who produced this little exercise for a few friends.
MAJOR POND LEFT PRACTICALLY NO ESTATE. New York, July, 1903. Printed form letter signed in type by Twain and others. This letter solicits funds for the widow and son of Twain's late lecture agent, James B. Pond.
TO WHOM THIS SHALL COME. Florence, Italy, June, 1904. Printed form letter acknowledging condolence messages sent to Twain after the death of his wife, Livy. Most copies were signed in ink by Twain, often with short notes. BAL 3481.
[Mark Twain's Seventieth Birthday] New York, December 5, 1905. His birthday was celebrated by a large banquet at Delmonico's in New York, to which his friends and fellow authors were invited. A young Willa Cather can be seen sitting at one of the tables! Twain's speech was recorded, but the recording is now lost. Until that cylinder turns up, collectors can content themselves by chasing down the pile of ephemera this dinner generated. Harper's Magazine issued a lavishly illustrated supplement in December, 1905, and also issued a separately printed souvenir from the same plates bound in grey printed wrappers in February, 1906. Those who attended the dinner were sent two separate invitations, as well as an elaborate seating chart for all the tables, and were given illustrated menus at the dinner. Those who sent Twain birthday greetings were acknowledged by a facsimile thank you note (unrecorded by BAL), which Twain signed in ink.
ACTORS'S FUND OF AMERICA. Mimeographed promotional letter from Twain supporting the fund. February 9, 1907. The fund was held May 6-11, 1907, and was sponsored by the Century Theatre Club. When the Club's president, a Christian Scientist, found out that Twain had been invited, she uninvited him, objecting to his published views on Christian Science. The Club members reminded her that the Club was not a religious organization, she resigned, and Twain graciously agreed to attend and sit in a booth signing books to raise money for struggling thespians. Many 1906-7 editions of Twain's works are found signed, and most were probably signed at this event. Some still contain a gilt printed label identifying the occasion.
Davis, Bert. CRISP TOASTS. New York: H. M. Caldwell, 1907. Pictorial color wrappers, the wrappers and text cut to the shape of a piece of toast. This anthology of toasts by famous authors and personalities includes Twain's toast to women. Unrecorded.
Searight, Frank, ed. THE AMERICAN PRESS HUMORISTS' BOOK. Los Angeles: Frank Searight, 1907. Original green cloth, lettered in white. Contains a contribution by Twain. BAL 3501 had not seen a copy in the original binding.
MARK TWAIN CALENDAR FOR 1910. [New York: Harper, 1909] Promotional calendar to advertise the sale of Twain's collected WORKS, with photographic illustrations and an aphorism for each month. The only other dates known for this kind of calendar are 1904 and 1911; in later years larger boxed calendars were produced.
Sealshipt Oyster Company. MARK TWAIN'S OYSTER STORY. South Norwalk, Conn: Sealshipt Oyster Co.  Blue printed wrappers. Advertising leaflet that uses an amusing Twain story to make their pitch. Unrecorded.
WHAT MEN SAY ABOUT WOMEN/ WHAT WOMEN SAY ABOUT MEN. San Francisco: Printed by the College Equal Suffrage League  Broadsheet on yellow paper. One side contains quotes on suffrage by women; the other side contains quotes by men, including Twain's: "I should like to see the ballot in the hands of every woman." Unrecorded.
[The Death of Mark Twain] 'Harper's Magazine' for May 7, 1910, contained a tribute to Twain, illustrated with photographs not often reproduced. The issue for April 30, 1910 had contained a review of his life and works. The American Academy of Arts and Letters held a memorial service in November, 1910, and a four page program was distributed to those in attendance. Twain's old friend and fellow author William Dean Howells presided; Joseph Twichell delivered a prayer (Twichell had performed Twain's wedding ceremony in 1870). The Academy included the full texts of the proceedings in their annual report of 1911.
After Twain's death, the nature of the ephemera associated with his name and image changed somewhat. As more of his works were translated to film, lobby cards, sheet music and movie posters were produced in quantity. The 1935 centenary of his birth prompted the production of ash-trays, statues, paper-weights, bookends, and other souvenir objects. His name was still used to sell things commonly associated with his life, like cigars and steamboat tours, and postcards promoting the sites associated with his life (Hartford, Hannibal, Nevada, and his birthplace) are common. They too are collectible and reflect the evolution of his public image through the twentieth century.
The best advice that can be given to all book collectors, whether novice or seasoned, is to "arm yourself with a generous shelf of reference books." This will have two desirable results. First, using such reference material you can learn far more about your area of interest than any dealer and protect yourself from costly mistakes. No dealer can possibly know everything there is to know about every book they handle, and you will nearly always have the advantage when considering a purchase. You will be equipped to spot errors of description or pricing (whether from ignorance or design). Second, an investment of a few dollars in good reference materials can multiply the pleasure of collecting or studying an author. The more you know about the author and his works, the keener the appreciation and enjoyment of collecting. Reference books are the skeleton key to every lock that a collector may encounter.
One important disclaimer is warranted. This annotated list of Mark Twain reference materials is severely selective. Beginning in the first decade of his career, Twain has had more books and articles written about him than any other American author, and it would be impossible to include here every important book that has been written. The purpose of this list is merely to suggest the directions and scope of a good Twain reference shelf.
General Reference Works
Rasmussen, R. Kent. MARK TWAIN A TO Z. [New York:] Facts on File  Readily available for $45; the edition was 10,000 copies. The title describes the contents of this book perfectly. The nearly 1,300 entries of this massive (576pp., quarto) desk dictionary cover virtually every person, place or thing in Twain's life and writings, and, as Rasmussen explains, answers most of the questions about the Who, What, Where, and When of Twain's existence. It includes a generous index, a monthly chronology of his entire life, a map of his travels, ample illustrations, and a synopsis of most of his writings (chapter by chapter for the major works). This work complements the MARK TWAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA. Both are essential.
LeMasters, J. R., and James D. Wilson, eds. THE MARK TWAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA. New York & London: Garland, 1993. The first edition of 1,400 copies was quickly exhausted at $95 each, and it was out of print when I last checked. Call 212-216-7800 to verify current status and price. A massive (848pp.) desk dictionary with 740 articles, each written by one of the more than a hundred recognized Twain scholars who were invited to contribute. These articles, some lengthy, answer the How and Why questions that were beyond the scope of Rasmussen's work. Each article contains a bibliography and the index is ample. Having written four of the articles, I may be partial to this work, but when combined with Rasmussen's A-Z, there is hardly a question about Twain that these two volumes cannot answer.
Blanck, Jacob, ed. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE (Volume Two). New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1957. This is the standard bibliography of most American authors of the nineteenth century (To be precise, you had to have written primarily literary works, and must have been dead --or in Bierce's case, still missing-- by the end of 1930, to be included). This nine volume set was published between 1955 and 1991 in editions of 2,000 copies; Twain's first editions and secondary works are fully described in volume two, which went through several reprintings, some as small as 200 copies each; it went out of print by 1993 at $80. Used copies of any printing now fetch $100 to $150 and are in great demand. Although the sections for some authors have been superseded by more current individual author bibliographies that is not true of Twain, and the scope and methodology of this bibliography is superior to all others. It is cited as BAL (pronounced Bee-Aye-El).
Johnson, Merle. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE WORKS OF MARK TWAIN. New York: Harper, 1935. Revised edition. This was the first descriptive bibliography of Twain's works, first published in 1910 in a limited edition of 500 copies, within months of Twain's death. The 1935 edition is still useful because of the publication histories it provides that are not found in BAL. It was reprinted in 1972 by the Greenwood Press, but is now out of print. The 1910 edition brings $200 (a copy in the original dust jacket would bring much more). The 1935 edition usually turns up for $150 without the dust jacket, which was quite fragile. The reprint brings less than $100 but is uncommon.
Other Bibliographical Sources
Tenney, Thomas A. MARK TWAIN: A REFERENCE GUIDE. Boston: G. K. Hall  The first and only edition was 1,500 copies. This massive work attempts the impossible task of identifying every significant writing about to Twain to appear in book or magazine form from 1858 to 1975. Just under 5,000 entries are included, with an excellent index. Many of the books cited contain material by Twain himself and were overlooked by Johnson and BAL. This work has been updated each year by a supplement in 'American Literary Realism.' Copies of this most basic reference volume are tough to find since libraries and scholars sucked up most of the copies, but a revised edition should appear soon.
Budd, Louis J. INTERVIEWS WITH SAMUEL L. CLEMENS, 1874-1910. Arlington: University of Texas, 1977. First edition. Issued as a special issue of 'American Literary Realism,' only 450 copies were bound in cloth. One of the leading Twain scholars identifies the sources and subjects of 278 of Twain's interviews. Twain was the first American author to achieve true celebrity status, and his public persona was defined as much by his media exposure as by his writings and speeches. Several of the more revealing interviews are printed in full. A supplement issued in 1996 locates over one hundred newly discovered interviews. Very difficult to find, and the best guide to an aspect of his career that is under-appreciated by both collectors and scholars.
Fatout, Paul, ed. MARK TWAIN SPEAKING. [Iowa City:] University of Iowa Press  The first edition must have been small indeed; virtually every copy encountered is a second printing, and for reference purposes a second printing must do. This stout book contains the full text of 195 speeches delivered by Twain between 1864 and 1909, with full accounts of their original reception and publication. The oral tradition was a major source for Twain, but it was also a major expression of his art. The collections of his speeches published in 1910 and 1923 are collectible, but this edition is as close to complete as exists.
Library and bookseller catalogues
[Cornman Collection] Dawson's Book Shop. CATALOGUE OF THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION OF CHARLES FARNSWORTH CORNMAN. Los Angeles, 1988. Charles Cornman was a prominent Twain collector who died in California in 1980 at age 81. The late great Los Angeles bookman Jake Zeitlin took the collection of 698 items on consignment but died soon after, so Dawson took over the sale, and like the Koundakjian collection, it too migrated to Japan as did so many large collections in the 1980s.
[Freedman Collection] Second Life Books. SAMUEL L. CLEMENS, A COLLECTION OF HIS WORKS. CATALOGUE 47. Lanesborough, Massachusetts  Russell Freedman, the proprietor of Second Life Books, offered for sale his father's collection of 1,562 items, rich in ephemera, binding variants, and unrecorded printings.
[Gerber Collection] The 19th Century Shop. MARK TWAIN. OCCASIONAL LIST 31. Baltimore  John C. Gerber, a well-known Twain scholar, was editor of the Iowa-California edition of Twain's works, and formed a collection of 394 items, particularly strong in Canadian editions.
[Karanovich Collection] The Lilly Library. MARK TWAIN, SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION OF NICK KARANOVICH. Bloomington, Indiana, 1991. The edition was 750 copies and copies are becoming hard to find. Karanovich, a well-known collector, selected only 137 choice items from his large collection for this well-catalogued well-illustrated exhibit.
[Koundakjian Collection] CATALOGUE OF MARK TWAIN COLLECTION IN THE LIBRARY OF IWAKI MEISEI UNIVERSITY. Iwaki City, Japan: Iwaki Meisei University, 1987. This collection was well-known for it multiple copies of many primary first editions, magazine appearances, and ephemera. The item count of 3,126 titles or 2,916 items is extremely misleading since a scrapbook containing 100 pieces, for example, is counted as 100 items, the separate volumes of multi- volume sets are counted as separate items, and some items consist of photocopies or dealer catalogues that contain a handful of Twain books for sale. Still valuable, and copies can be obtained by writing the university.
[Mark Twain Memorial and Stowe-Day Foundation Collections] McBride, William M., comp. MARK TWAIN, A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE COLLECTIONS OF THE MARK TWAIN MEMORIAL AND THE STOWE-DAY FOUNDATION. Hartford  The edition was 1,000 copies, and copies are not difficult to find. A well-printed, beautifully illustrated and well-indexed catalogue of those extensive collections. Strictly speaking, the title is a misnomer; the work is an annotated checklist of those collections, but includes no collations, binding descriptions, or publication histories of individual writings as would a formal bibliography.
[Merron Collection] David J. Holmes Autographs. CHOICE BITS FROM MARK TWAIN, THE JULES L. MERRON COLLECTION. Philadelphia  Merron first began collecting Twain in 1957. A handful of his books, known for their superb condition, were sold at auction, but 601 items were offered in this catalogue.
[Williams Collection] Alan C. Fox Rare Books. CATALOGUE ONE, MARK TWAIN. Sherman Oaks, California  This catalogue of the Jim Williams collection consisted of 1,800 copies in wrappers and 200 in pictorial boards; both are fairly easy to find. Fox was able to sell only 15% of the 765 well-catalogued items before their sale was taken over by Heritage Bookshop of Los Angeles, who found buyers for the remaining books.
[Various booksellers' catalogues] Over the years many booksellers have published lists or catalogues devoted to Mark Twain's works, but four ABAA member firms have published such lists and catalogues on a continuing basis: Heritage Bookshop (Los Angeles, California), Mac Donnell Rare Books (Austin, Texas), Willis Monie, Books (Cooperstown, New York), and Second Life Books (Lanesborough, Massachusetts).
Biographers were attracted to Twain from the beginning. A brief sketch of his life appeared in a biographical dictionary published in 1872, and a separately published account of his life and writings had appeared by 1883. A distant cousin, Will Clemens, produced a widely read full length biography in 1892, and the flow of biographical studies has been steady ever since. Only three are described here, although twenty important examples could have been cited. Most biographies of Twain published in recent decades have focused on just one facet of his career. Twain's influence as a social critic or cultural icon has guided several biographers, and works on his childhood and formative western years are plentiful. Since the publication of Hill's work, critics and biographers have scrutinized his later years while re-evaluating the earlier period.
Paine, Albert Bigelow. MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY. New York & London, Harper, 1912. 3 vols. The first printing of the first edition carries the Harper code H-M in the first volume and I-M in the second and third volumes. The first edition is not uncommon, and reprints are plentiful. Paine moved in with the Clemens family in January, 1906 and was by Twain's side or lurking in the shadows practically every moment from that time until Twain's death. He had access to nearly all of Twain's friends, family, manuscripts, and letters. On the other hand he had to please Twain during his lifetime, and after Twain's death he was under pressure to satisfy the personal interests of Twain's daughter and the commercial interests of Twain's publisher. Upon publication, the book became a top ten best seller. Although criticized by later scholars for fulfilling his role as "official biographer" too well, none can deny that Paine's work is the foundation and starting point for subsequent Twain biographers. This work is also collected as a primary first edition since Paine included a lengthy section in the final volume that first prints several original writings by Twain.
Kaplan, Justin. MR. CLEMENS AND MARK TWAIN. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1966. The first printing is readily available, but copies with perfect unsoiled jackets are uncommon. Kaplan won the Pulitzer Prize for this balanced general biography that amplifies aspects of Twain's life that were not fully addressed by Paine.
Hill, Hamlin. MARK TWAIN, GOD'S FOOL. New York: Harper  The first printing in a dust jacket is still fairly easy to find, though not always in a perfect jacket. Hill, an influential Twain scholar, concentrated on the last ten years of Twain's life, documenting and revealing for the first time the tragic disintegration of the private life of Sam Clemens during a time when the public image of Mark Twain was soaring higher than ever. This work changed the direction of Twain scholarship.
Only two are included out of hundreds of books and thousands of journal articles and dissertations. These two works were selected because they presented two opposing views of Twain's works that has shaped the direction of most critical studies since.
Brooks, Van Wyck. THE ORDEAL OF MARK TWAIN. New York: E. P. Dutton  The first edition is extremely rare in a dust jacket, and the important revised edition of 1933 is equally scarce. Brooks, a prominent literary critic, approached Twain from a Freudian perspective and presented him as a repressed personality who betrayed his art when faced with cultural constraints. Neither Brooks' thesis nor DeVoto's rebuttal have been fully accepted, and the valid questions they both raised have remained at the core of Twain studies: the conflicting duality of Twain's public and private personas, the conflicting public images of Twain as social critic and genial comic, Twain's debt to rustic folk cultures, and his influence on American literature.
DeVoto, Bernard. MARK TWAIN'S AMERICA. Boston: Little, Brown, 1932. The first edition is not easily found in any sort of dust jacket. This was the first of DeVoto's several important books on Twain, and is an able, if not complete, refutation of Van Wyck Brooks thesis. DeVoto saw Twain as an artist who was nourished by folk traditions and the frontier, whose cynicism was a product of his adult years and the personal tragedies of his last years. DeVoto became editor of the Mark Twain Papers after Paine, and published MARK TWAIN IN ERUPTION (1940), MARK TWAIN AT WORK (1942), and LETTERS FROM THE EARTH (1962, published after his own death and the death of Twain's nutty daughter, Clara).
Miscellaneous Reference Works
Clemens, S. L. THE WORKS OF MARK TWAIN. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1967 to date. The 23 volumes of primary works, notebooks, and letters published in this ongoing MLA text edition are a gold-mine of bibliographical and historical documentation. The five volumes of Twain's letters published in this series shed new light on the publication history of his works, as do the textual notes to the primary works themselves. The bulk of Mark Twain's personal papers and manuscripts are housed at the Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, in Berkeley, where the work on this edition is carried out by The Mark Twain Project.
Gale, Robert L. PLOTS AND CHARACTERS IN THE WORKS OF MARK TWAIN. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1973. 2 vols. Long out of print and very hard to find. Gale's plot and character summaries of the works of Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne are standard references; he does this kind of thing well. The first volume contains a summary of every novel, story, or sketch that Twain published; the second volume identifies every person, by first or last name, real or fictional, who appeared in any of Twain's published writings.
Gribben, Alan. MARK TWAIN'S LIBRARY, A RECONSTRUCTION. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. 2 vols. The first edition was only 500 copies and most were bought by libraries, making this work very hard to find. Despite a public image to the contrary, Twain was extremely well- read and owned several thousand books during his lifetime, frequently annotating them. Gribben identifies each book, documents their influence on Twain's work, and locates more than 700 surviving volumes that belonged to Twain. This work is overdue for revision, since several hundred previously unrecorded books from Twain's library have surfaced since this edition was published.
Machlis, Paul. UNION CATALOG OF CLEMENS LETTERS. Berkeley: University of California  The first edition was eventually remaindered, so copies are available in the market. This volume is exactly what the title implies, a union list of more than 10,000 letters written by Twain, about a fifth of the letters he probably wrote during his lifetime. A small percentage of those listed are on the basis of letters once published but now lost, but the vast majority of the letters in this union list are original letters that survive in both private and institutional collections. The main list is organized by recipient, then by date. A pocket at the back of the book contains microfiche cards that allow searching by place, date, source, etc.
Machlis, Paul. UNION CATALOG OF LETTERS TO CLEMENS. Berkeley: University of California  The first edition is readily available. This volume is precisely what is says it is: a union list of the letters written to Twain by fellow authors, friends, business partners, family, and strangers. The more than 18,000 such letters that survive are organized by writer, then by date. Like Machlis' other volume, microfiche cards are included that allow searching by place, date, source, etc.
Rasmussen, R. Kent, ed. THE QUOTABLE MARK TWAIN: HIS ESSENTIAL APHORISMS, WITTICISMS AND CONCISE OPINIONS. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1998. Twain is constantly quoted in newspapers, books, and on television. The problem is that roughly one-third of the quotes attributed to him are simply words he never said, or else crude paraphrases of things he did say, taken out of context. Many collections of Twain quotes have been published over the years, but this one, like Rasmussen's A TO Z volume, is fact-based.
Bureau Development, Inc. TWAIN'S WORLD. Parsippany, New Jersey, 1993. This CD/ROM is a useful tool that opens new doors for Twain research. The corny graphics would not impress even the youngest child, but one feature alone will captivate the true Twainian. The complete texts of nearly all of Twain's published writings are included, and they can be searched. Did Twain actually call Jim "the nigger Jim" in HUCK FINN? In which novels and stories did Tom Sawyer appear other than TOM SAWYER? How did Twain treat legal issues and themes in his works? (Clue: search for legal terminology and words like attorney, lawyer, court, trial, judge, arrest, etc.) In which of his works did Twain first refer to the Mississippi River? With this CD/ROM the answers are mere seconds away. Bureau Development also produces a similar CD/ROM for Charles Dickens (called LIKE THE DICKENS), and other literary subjects like Monarch Notes. They can be reached at 141 New Road, Parsipanny, NJ, 07054 (201-808-2700).
I saved for last a reference source about Mark Twain that is one Twain himself --always intrigued by scientific progress, gadgets, and the creative application of new technologies-- would have found irresistible: cyberspace. Those with internet access can go to any search engine and search 'Mark Twain' and review the various webpages, but the friendliest and most useful site on the Net is the Mark Twain Forum, which includes a listserver. Be forewarned: it is not geared toward collectors, and commercialism of any kind is strictly forbidden. Instead it is a pleasant focal point for scholarly discussions of Mark Twain's work and announcement of Twain-related news, events, and seminars, but every reader or student of his work will find a visit to this site rewarding.
And there, dear reader, it seems fitting to leave Mark Twain, his spirit cusped happily on the very leading edge of whatever direction our expanding Communication Age may take him, not unlike Captain Stormfield on his comet, streaking toward the future, surrounded by congenial souls conjoined by their gentle appreciation of a timeless, artful and very American humor.
This article first appeared in Firsts: the Book Collector's Magazine, 1998. Copyright © by Firsts Magazine, Inc. No portion of this article may be reproduced or redistributed without their express written permission.