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Writings of Mark Twain
1899. TWAIN, Mark. The Writings of Mark Twain. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899-1907. Twenty-five volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter blue morocco gilt, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut. $39,000.Edition de Luxe, number 542 of 1000 copies. This set with manuscript pages of The Gilded Age, one each by Twain and by collaborator Charles Dudley Warner, tipped in to Volume X. This set also with a tipped-in double signature on the limitation leaf, “S.L. Clemens (Mark Twain),” and an autograph letter tipped to the blank opposite the limitation page, from Twain to his publisher, “Feb. 16. Friend Bliss: Please mail or send in your own way, a cloth copy of Innocents Abroad to Sidney Moffett, New Market, Shenendoah Co, Va, & charge to my Act. Yours, Mark.” On the reverse is written in a different hand: “Mark Twain Feb. 16, ’75.” Very handsomely bound.Leaves of the Gilded Age manuscripts of Twain and Warner were sometimes bound into sets of the Edition de Luxe, and especially the 512 sets called the ""Autograph Edition."" Twain's manuscript leaf, from only six pages into the work (appearing on p. 18 here) begins, ""… for a coonskin & a cake of beeswax to an old dame in linsey-woolsey, put his letter away, & went into the kitchen. His wife was there, constructing some dried apple pies; a slovenly urchin of ten was dreaming over a rude weather-vane of his own contriving…"" ""Friend Bliss"" mentioned in the autograph letter is Elisha Bliss (1822-80), manager of the American Publishing Company which published the first five Twain titles between 1869 and 1880. Bliss marketed authors through subscription sales, a technique that fulfilled his goal of making Twain ""the people's author"" (Kaplan, 61). ""His decision to chance a work of humor with his company was a bold one, but his instinct that Mark Twain had a ready-made audience… proved accurate and enormously profitable…. Bliss can claim the credit for recognizing Mark Twain's proper audience, placing his literature in the hands of that audience, and educating his apprentice author in the mechanics of subscription publication. His influence lurks… behind the humorist's self-definition of his role as the 'People's Author' and the spokesman for the 'mighty mass of the uncultivated…"" (Wilson, 90-91). At the end of the 19th-century subscription sales began to lose ground to urban bookstores. Frank Bliss, Elisha's heir, shed subscription booklists and began issuing expensive deluxe editions, none more important than this one. ""As if to mark the close of a literary era,"" Frank supervised the production of this limited edition set and, according to Twain, ""appeared to be having an easy time selling it, President McKinley and other big guns have subscribed"" (Kaplan, 355). This superb set contains all of Twain's work, including novels, essays and sketches. Each volume with a tissue-guarded frontispiece and a vignette title page. With over 100 tissue-guarded plates, including etchings by W. H. W. Bicknell and photogravures from photographs and from drawings by Peter Newell, E. W. Kemble, B. West Clinedinst, Dan Beard, W. T. Smedley, F. M. Senior, F. T. Merrill, F. Luis Mora, E. H. Garrett, J. G. Brown, F. V. DuMond, and others. These plates were used for the first time in this set and again in various later editions issued by the American Publishing Company (see BAL 3456). Laid in to the first volume is a typed letter, dated in 1940, to a Mrs. Daniel Jenks from a Walter Norman of Pittsfield, MA. Norman apparently worked with his father at the L. L. Brown Paper Company, a company apparently producing paper for the American Publishing Company. He makes reference in the letter to the paper used in the first 1000 copies of this set, deckle-edged paper with a ""Mark Twain"" watermark. Two volumes with expert repairs to headcaps. An extraordinary set with autograph material in fine condition.
      [Bookseller: Bauman Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2017-04-03           Check availability:      Biblio    


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