CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain," 1835-1910). Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.
Small 4o (212 x 160 mm). Lithographed frontispiece by E.W. Kemble, photographic portrait frontispiece of the bust of Mark Twain by Karl Gerhardt, illustrations in text by Kemble. Original publisher's dark-brown half morocco, spine gilt-lettered and -decorated, marbled boards, edges stained red, by J.F. Tapley (skilfully rebacked with original spine laid down, few repairs at corners); red cloth slipcase.
Provenance: Charles L. Webster (1851-1891), Clemens's general business manager and nephew by marriage, whom Clemens put in charge of his own publishing firm in 1884 (bookplate, numbered in manuscript "841", inscriptions and signatures on flyleaf and inserted leaf [see below]), given to; Louis McKinstry, publisher of the Fredonia Censor; by descent to the present owners.
THE PUBLISHER CHARLES L. WEBSTER'S COPY OF 'HUCKLEBERRY FINN': "THE FIRST COPY EVER BOUND," WITH A UNIQUE AUTOGRAPH DRAFT OF CLEMENS'S UNUSED DEDICATION "TO THE ONCE BOYS & GIRLS...OF HANNIBAL, MISSOURI"
AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT COPY, BIBLIOGRAPHICALLY UNIQUE, A SUPERB ASSOCIATION, AND WITH A MANUSCRIPT THAT CONSTITUTES THE SOLE SOURCE OF CLEMENS'S POIGNANT SUPPRESSED DEDICATION. A remarkable bibliographical discovery, this copy exhibits BAL's first state of the title-page, with 1885 copyright. According to BAL, this state is noted "only in the prospectus and in a set of advance sheets (in C[lifton] W[aller] B[arrett]). No copy of the published book has been seen, or reported, with the copyright notice dated 1885." The second state of the title is a cancel, with the copyright revised to read 1884 (as sales exceeded expectations, the planned publication date was moved up to late 1884). In the third state, the title is once again conjugate with 1/7, and the copyright notice is dated 1884. The present title is uncancelled and corrected in manuscript (by Webster?) to read "1884." THIS IS THE ONLY COPY KNOWN WITH THE 1885 COPYRIGHT TITLE.
All other textual points are in their earliest states: p.9, state 1 ("Decided," not noted by BAL); p.13, state 1 ("Him and another man"); p.57, state 1 ("with the was"); p.155, state 1 (folio reads "15"); p.283, state 1 (engraving of Silas Phelps in the original undefaced and uncancelled state, conjugate with 18/3: "in this original state the leaf has been seen only in early prospectuses and in leather bound copies of the published book"--BAL). The frontispiece portrait is in state 2 (with the tablecloth not visible and "Karl Gerhardt, Sc." added to the finished edge of the shoulder). As BAL notes: "It must be emphasized that the portrait frontispiece is an insert and as such has no relation to the sheets of the book."
INSCRIBED BY CHARLES L. WEBSTER on the front flyleaf: "This copy of 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' was bound by J.F. Tapley Nov. 26th 1884 and is the first copy ever bound. Chas L. Webster Publisher." The volume is bound in half morocco, an option which was listed in both early prospectuses. Huckleberry Finn was available in its pictorial cloth binding, best known in green but also in the scarcer blue cloth which was first listed in a later prospectus; cloth with gilt edges; sheep; and half morocco. The spine decoration on the present copy matches that on other examined copies in half morocco.
WITH THE UNIQUE AUTOGRAPH DRAFT OF CLEMENS'S NEVER-USED DEDICATION. The leaf, which constitutes the only known source of the intended dedication, measures 7 15/16 x 5½ in. and is tipped into the volume between the title and the leaf carrying Clemens's printed notice ("Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted" etc.) Boldly penned in blue-gray ink, carefully approximating the form in which Clemens intended it to be typeset, with the first line and the name of his hometown both underlined. The dedication reads:
"To the Once Boys & Girls
who comraded with me in
the morning of time &
the Youth of antiquity, in the village of
This book is inscribed, with
affection for themselves,
respect for their virtues,
& reverence for their
honorable gray hairs.
At the top of the page, in pencil, are Clemens's underlined instructions to the printers: "Fac-simile this, about this size -- full-page." At the very bottom of the page, Webster has added an explanatory note in ink: "(Never used. Chas. L. Webster)." Clemens is likely to have added the dedication to the typed printer's copy between the fall of 1883 and the spring of 1884, probably before mid-April, when the printer's copy was supplied to Webster. At some point during production, he changed his mind about the dedication, had it removed, and added the "Explanatory" note. The dedication is known only from this manuscript, carefully preserved by Webster, and was not printed in any edition of Huckleberry Finn until it was added to the Foreword to the Mark Twain Library edition (Berkeley, 2001) and noted in the Authoritative Text (Berkeley, 2003), p.695. We are grateful to editors Vic Fischer and Lin Salamo for assistance in the prepartion of this description.
BAL 3415; Grolier American 87; Johnson/Clemens, pp.43-50; Johnson High Spots 23; McBride, pp.92-110; Peter Parley to Penrod, pp.75-76. See Kevin MacDonnell, "Collecting Mark Twain," in Firsts, Vol. 8, nos. 7/8 and 9, July/August and September 1998.