“ONE OF THE MOST DURABLE WORKS IN AMERICAN LITERATURE”: FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE OF TOM SAWYER
TWAIN, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876. Square octavo, original blue cloth stamped in gilt and black, peach endpapers. Housed in custom clamshell box. $72,000.
First American edition, first state, of what is universally recognized as one of the great masterpieces of American literature.
"The first novel Mark Twain wrote without a co-author, Tom Sawyer is also his most clearly autobiographical novel… Enlivened by extraordinary and melodramatic events, it is otherwise a realistic depiction of the experiences, people and places that Mark Twain knew as a child" (Rasmussen, 459). Originally published in England (without illustrations), Tom Sawyer arrived at a momentous time in American history: Custer had recently lost the battle at Little Big Horn and America was celebrating its centennial. "Publication of Tom Sawyer was little noticed… The book has, however, proved to be one of the most durable works in American literature. By the time of Twain's death, it was his top-selling book. It has been in print continuously since 1876, and has outsold all other Mark Twain works" (Rasmussen, 459). "This was a true boy's book, and surviving copies are proof of how rough little boy's can be on books" (MacDonnell, 40). First printing, first state (with "THE" on half title in 10-point rather than 14-point type), peach endpapers, printed on wove paper, with triple flyleaves of laid paper, and preliminary matter paginated [I]-XVI. BAL 3369. Johnson, 27-30. MacDonnell, 39-40. MacBride, 40. Owner gift inscription in light pencil.
Interior quite clean, with faint unobtrusive dampstain to bottom margin of first few leaves, moderate rubbing to extremities of original cloth, spine slightly faded. An extremely good copy of this American highspot.