Rare Salesman Dummy of Mark Twain's First Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain) Clemens, Samuel L.$7,500.00
Item Number: 62040
New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.
First edition of Twain’s masterpiece, Salesman’s Dummy Issue. Octavo, original publisher’s decorated green cloth gilt to the spine and front panel. With frontispiece portrait of Twain inserted at front (with the imprint of the Heliotype Printing Co., but the cloth is not visible). This book was specially printed to have a selection of text pages, so it is common for the recto of one page to have a certain page number, and the page number on the verso to jump by several pages. Because of this, this book only has some of the issue points that a copy of Huckleberry Finn would have: the title-leaf is integral, with the “1884” copyright date (this is the true first state, and it only appeared in the salesman’s dummy); page  lists “Him and Another Man” as being on page 88 (first state); “Huck Decided” on page  (first state). The Silas Phelps illustration on page 283 has a straight fly, but the leaf is integral with page 287 printed on the verso. Page 57 was not printed for this edition. Two samples of the spine were affixed onto the front pastedown – one is missing, the other, the spine for the sheep binding, is present. Publisher’s full green cloth, boards decoratively stamped in gilt and black (the front board is identical to the design of the cloth version, the rear board shows the design of the spine of the cloth edition). Plain spine is damaged and torn, boards are toned and worn, with a bump to the fore-edge of the front board, front free endpaper is nearly detached, and has offsetting from the spine samples, the gutter facing the first blank is cracked. Contemporary gift inscription and some offsetting on first blank, tissue guard lacking on frontispiece portrait, text leaves and frontispiece are soiled and toned, two sheets of the lined pages have subscriber’s information in manuscript, In very good condition. Housed in custom full morocco clamshell box. Exceptionally rare.
Twain initially conceived of the work as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that would follow Huckleberry Finn through adulthood. Beginning with a few pages he had removed from the earlier novel, Twain began work on a manuscript he originally titled Huckleberry Finn's Autobiography. Twain worked on the manuscript off and on for the next several years, ultimately abandoning his original plan of following Huck's development into adulthood. He appeared to have lost interest in the manuscript while it was in progress, and set it aside for several years. After making a trip down the Hudson River, Twain returned to his work on the novel. Upon completion, the novel's title closely paralleled its predecessor's: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). Twain composed the story in pen on notepaper between 1876 and 1883. Paul Needham, stated, "What you see is [Clemens'] attempt to move away from pure literary writing to dialect writing." For example, Twain revised the opening line of Huck Finn three times. He initially wrote, "You will not know about me", which he changed to, "You do not know about me", before settling on the final version, "You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'; but that ain't no matter." The revisions also show how Twain reworked his material to strengthen the characters of Huck and Jim, as well as his sensitivity to the then-current debate over literacy and voting. Ernest Hemingway once declared about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, "All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since."