Twain, Mark [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]
Mark Twain's Autobiography
Seller ID: 816
New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1924. First edition, in two volumes (xvi, 368; viii, 365, adverts), with an Introduction by Albert Bigelow Paine. Large 8vo with Twain portraits as frontispieces with imprinted tissue guards. In BAL (3537) two states of the first edition are described without concluding which should be assigned precedence, saying, the 'tentative' sequence is 'not firmly established.' The differences between Variant A and Variant B reside in features of the second volumes, the first volumes being indistinguishable from each other. In particular, the frontispiece tissue guards in Variant A sometimes may be imprinted; whereas the frontispiece tissue guards in Variant B are always imprinted. According to BAL, however, the central distinguishing feature is that Variant A includes two pages of advertising bound in at the end of volume two, followed by a blank; Variant B is free of advertising, with two blank pages at the end of volume two. Our copy matches the description of Variant A in all particulars except one: it has yet to be bound. Since 1924, this copy has been clothed only in publisher's plain, brown paper wraps. Volume one is identified by a large '1' in red pencil on the wrapper; volume two is marked with a large '2' in ordinary pencil. BAL says, "In advance of publication the publisher sold an unknown number (It could not have been great) of copies in folded sheets to certain antiquarian booksellers and collectors." This copy of Variant A of the Autobiography would seem to be an example of one of those unbound advance copies, issued in the expectation buyers would have their copies specially bound for their collections. Indeed, the discovery of an advance copy in Variant A format (imprinted tissue guards and two pages of advertising) supports an argument which assigns precedence to Variant A ('an unknown number' of unbound copies in Variant A format being produced first, immediately followed by bound copies in the same format). Our copy is housed in a handsome, bespoke double solander case by John Burbidge in dark blue cloth, an echo of the trade binding, with decorative gilt lettering ('Samuel Clemens, Florida, MO, 1835' to the cover of volume one and 'Mark Twain, Stormfield, 1910' to the cover of volume two, 'Clemens' and 'Twain' on the case's spine) and bone fasteners; interior lined with fine marbled paper.
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