29 June 2005
CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1889.
Square 8o. 2-page publisher's advertisement at end; 44 wood-engraved plates and numerous illustrations in text (some full-page) by Dan Beard. Original pictorial olive-green cloth stamped in blue, black and gilt, spine gilt-decorated; cloth slipcase. Provenance: George L. Bell, Pratt & Whitney toolmaker and acquaintance of Twain (presentation inscription); Harriet Borland (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE, with ornamental "S" between the words "The King" on p. 59. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY CLEMENS IN THE MONTH OF PUBLICATION on the front flyleaf: "George L. Bell with compts of The Author 1889." George L. Bell was a Pratt & Whitney toolmaker who knew Clemens well through his work on the Paige compositor--the consuming interest of his life from 1880 to 1895. The machine was an automatic typesetter "of twenty thousand minutely exact parts" invented by James W. Paige. Twain was the principal backer, and he visited the Pratt & Whitney plant, where it was being built, on numerous occasions. He dreamt of making millions when the machine was perfected, but it never was. In fifteen years Twain had invested nearly $200,000 in its development, and by 1895 he had lost every penny of it. (See Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twian, a Biography, Vol. II, pp. 903-15.)
This copy IN THE RARE VARIANT STATE WITH THE HALF-TITLE PRINTED ON THE RECTO OF THE FRONTISPIECE. Johnson states: "In a few copies...a half title has been printed on the recto of the frontispiece. These copies are so rare that wanting further evidence they must be regarded as freaks" (Johnson, p. 51). BAL 3429; Johnson, pp. 50-52. AN EXTREMELY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY.
Contact Client Service
New York +1 212 636 2000
London +44 (0)20 7839 9060
Asia +852 2760 1766
Christie’s specialists discuss Haring, Banksy and Stik, and how to bring the street into the home
Offered on 6 December in London, Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Princess Mary, Daughter of King Charles I of England