"ONE OF THE MOST DURABLE WORKS IN AMERICAN LITERATURE": FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE OF TOM SAWYER, ONE OF ONLY 200 COPIES IN SCARCE PUBLISHER'S MOROCCO-GILT
TWAIN, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876. Square octavo, publisher's three-quarter brown morocco, peach endpapers. Housed in a custom chemise and half morocco clamshell box. $69,000.
First American edition, first state of one of the great masterpieces of American literature and a true touchstone of American childhood, in the exceptionally rare publisher's morocco binding. An essential addition to any Mark Twain collection. Only 200 copies were issued in the publisher's three-quarter morocco binding.
"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 point 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). Also issued in cloth and sheep, only 200 copies were issued in this three-quarter morocco binding. First printing, first state, which "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" (MacDonnell, 40). Also with "THE" on half title in 10-point rather than 14-point type, peach endpapers, preliminary matter paginated [I]-XVI and two blank flyleaves of laid paper at front—"copies have been noted with two, three and four fly-leaves present… no positive point of issue can be made" (Johnson, 28). BAL 3369. Johnson, 27-30. MacDonnell, 39-40. MacBride, 40.
Scattered light soiling, as usual. Small marginal closed tear to page 91, not affecting text. Front inner paper hinge split, binding sound. A nearly fine copy in extraordinary condition, highly desirable in the original publisher's morocco. A centerpiece of any collection celebrating Mark Twain or, indeed, American literature.