ORIGINAL LEGAL SUIT AGAINST LITERARY COUNTERFEITER, SIGNED BY MARK TWAINTWAIN, Mark.
Document - Signed . Bill of Complaint
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Legal document signed. Bill of Complaint.
New York, June 1901. Twelve legal-sized sheets typed on rectos only, fixed with brads into a yellow paper folder, docketed on the verso. WITH: Two separate pieces of correspondence to Twain related to the case: original four-page autograph letter from Melville Landon (with cover letter by Twain); original three-page autograph letter from Justus S. North, with envelopes. Housed together in a custom clamshell box. $8200.Original legal complaint, in which Mark Twain sues the owners of a Brooklyn department store for their unauthorized and deceptive use of his name and image to publish and sell books, signed “Samuel L. Clemens.” With interesting related correspondence—one envelope with an autograph note by Twain to his lawyer: “Just received. That disastrous book seems to be traveling, you see. SLC.”
In time for the Christmas season of 1900, a book appeared for sale in the Brooklyn department store of Frederick Loeser entitled Library of Wit and Humor by Mark Twain
. It looked as if this book might be a reissue of Mark Twain’s Library of Humor
(1888), a collection of 20 Mark Twain stories, including “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calveras County” and works by 45 other authors including Washington Irving, Bret Harte, Joel Chandler Harris and Ambrose Bierce. As it turned out, the book was a counterfeit, an unauthorized reprinting of a little-known 1883 anthology compiled by journalist Melville Landon (aka “Eli Perkins”)—published and positioned by Loeser as a book by Twain with Twain’s name and portrait on the cover. Twain was outraged at such “reckless disregard” for his “rights and property.” This is the original legal typescript of the suit he brought against Frederick Loeser and his partners, prepared by Twain’s lawyer Augustus T. Gurlitz. The complaint cites copyright and trademark infringements, arguing that “the characteristics of [Twain’s] books and his individuality shall be preserved, and that no books or writings not prepared or composed by [Twain] shall be placed upon the market or advertised or sold as being the work of [Twain].’ Gurlitz describes the counterfeit book as “so arranged and entitled and dressed up that it is likely to, and does, deceive the public, and leads to the belief that it is the work of [Twain].” Furthermore, Twain’s own 1888 anthology was still in print, and he points out that “the market for said book is of great value.” In closing Gurlitz requests an injunction against further printing and future sales of the current stock of counterfeit books and seeks damages of “not less than the sum of ten thousand dollars… and all the gains and profits [from sales]… and the costs of this suit.”
With this original legal document are two interesting pieces of correspondence to Twain: an autograph letter from Melville Landon offering “to tell the truth once in my life to help you along [in the suit]” (with a typed letter of transmittal from Twain, forwarding the letter “from that blatherskite Eli Perkins” to Augustus Gurlitz); and an autograph letter from disgruntled customer Justus S. North, who had purchased the counterfeit book in good faith and now accuses Twain of “procuring money under false pretenses.” On the face of the envelope Twain has written a note to Gurlitz lamenting the wide distribution of “that disastrous book.”
Materials in generally fine condition, Clemens’ signature bold and clear.