“NEVER PUT OFF TILL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW JUST AS WELL”: FIRST ISSUE OF MARK TWAIN’S SKETCHES, 1875, IN SCARCE PUBLISHER’S MOROCCO
TWAIN, Mark. Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old. Now First Published in Complete Form. Hartford, Connecticut and Chicago, Illinois: The American Publishing Company, 1875. Large square octavo, original three-quarter brown morocco, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.
First edition, first issue, of this collection of 63 humorous pieces by Twain, in very scarce publisher’s morocco binding.
“Sketches, New and Old gathered 63 writings and originally sold by subscription for $3 to $6… These ‘sketches’ ranged in length from half a page to about 15 pages… [and] offered a dazzling variety of subjects, from time to tourism to taxes, from national prejudices to politics, from mock romance to domestic comedy… Includes enough humor, satire, social criticism, and philosophy to engage any reader and to increase the growth of Mark Twain’s reputation” (LeMaster & Wilson, 685). With wood-engraved frontispiece and numerous in-text engravings by the most prolific of Twain illustrators, True Williams. “Twain gave him specific instructions for several of this book’s illustrations,” including “strong ideas about how the jumping frog should appear. Williams satisfied this demand by making the frog resemble its namesake, Daniel Webster” (Rasmussen, 516). Copies bound in the publisher’s three-quarter morocco are exceedingly scarce: four years after publication 25,445 cloth copies had been sold, compared to 5145 in sheep and a mere 298 in three-quarter morocco, as the present copy (MacDonnell, 39). First issue, with repeated footnote on page 120 and “From ‘Hospital Days” on page 299, but without tipped-in explanatory note. With two blank flyleaves front and rear (rather than the three called for by Blanck for cloth copies). BAL 3364. Johnson, 24-27. MacDonnell, 38-39. McBride, 35. Contemporary ink presentation inscription dated in the year of publication. Bookplate.
Minor and expert restoration to spine ends only. A beautiful copy.