New York: Charles L. Webster, 1885. First American Edition. Near Fine / No Dust Jacket. Item #08232
Publisher's original green cloth, stamped in gilt and black, with the following early issue points: a. Page 9, "Huck Decided." b. Page 13 "Him and another man" listed as p. 88. c. Page 57 "with the was." d. Page 143 "l" in Col. missing and "b" in body broken. e. Page 155, final 5 is in a different font. f. Page 283 is tipped-in. g. Title page is tipped-in, and copyrighted in 1884. h. Frontis is tipped-in, cloth not visible. SIR HUGH WALPOLE'S COPY, with his inscription stating that this is one of his top five favorite books and that he purchased it from the legendary Los Angeles bookman, Jake Zeitlin, on September 4, 1934. THE SECOND EARLIEST KNOWN, OF DATED PRE-PUBLICATION COPIES (1884) the 1884 gift inscription is to S. W. Field, one of the founders of Santa Cruz, California and it was he who was appointed the first police chief in 1867. The early issue points above and this 1884 gift inscription, show that this copy is a pre-publication copy and second earliest known of the first American copies issued; the earliest is the Charles L. Webster copy, which is dated November 26, 1884 and sold at Christie's in 2004 fro $265,000; tied for second place is Livy Twain's copy, also dated Christmas 1884, and sold at Sotheby's in 1991 for $99,000. Moreover, it is one of the very few association copies of Huck Finn we have seen, given it's connection to Sir Hugh Walpole and to the legendary bookseller, Jake Zeitlin. The New York Herald of 29 November, 1884, quotes Charles Webster as saying, "But 250 copies left the office [for California] ." The present copy is, doubtless, one of those copies. It is important to note that the next earliest dated copies share virtually the same issue points as our copy: (a). The Smillie copy of Huck Finn is dated Feb. 19, 1885. The Smillie copy is like our copy in every point, except the frontis cloth is visible. But the frontis was an added item, tipped into the book and therefore cannot be a guide to priority (Clarke). The Smillie copy is example #13 in the McBride bibliography. (b). The Drapkin copy of Huck Finn is dated Feb. 23, 1885. It is like our copy in every point, except the frontis cloth is visible; again, this point is not a guide to priority. Also page 155 lacks the final 5, whereas our copy has the final 5 in a larger font. But, according to Underhill, he had acquired a copy on April 30, 1931, which had the final 5 "stamped in" by hand, and which matched the original font. Underhill concluded that would leave only two states of p. 155 as it was published: with the final 5 of the wrong font, or with the final 5 absent. So, let us conclude that our copy of Huckleberry Finn is, in significant points, like the earliest dated copies, and that our copy, dated Christmas [December] 1884, is one of the very few early, dated copies. NOTE: In mid-December, 1884, Estes & Lauriat announced that Huckleberry Finn was ready and for sale by them at a reduced price. Twain filed a law suit and settled months later (30,000 copies were already bound in December, 1884). Housed in a custom pictorial green clamshell box, with the front panel design, similar to that on the book. BAL 3415. McBride, p. 92-123.