"ONE OF THE MOST DURABLE WORKS IN AMERICAN LITERATURE": RARE FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE OF AN AMERICAN HIGHSPOT, MARK TWAIN'S ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, 1876
TWAIN, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876. Square octavo, original black- and gilt-stamped blue cloth, peach endpapers. Housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase. $42,000.
Rare first American edition, first printing, first state, of one of the universally recognized masterpieces of American literature, Twain's irrepressible and unforgettable "true boy's book."
"The first novel Mark Twain wrote without a co-author, Tom Sawyer is also his most clearly autobiographical… 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 boys 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. Without one (of three) front flyleaves (blanks); with all three flyleaves at rear. BAL 3369. Johnson, 27-30. MacDonnell, 39-40. McBride, 40.
Interior very good, with scattered spotting and soiling, as often. Inner paper hinges expertly restored, closed tear to page 225-26 repaired, a touch of rubbing to spine ends. Original cloth unusually clean and fresh, gilt fine and bright. A desirable, lovely copy.