Hartford, Conn.: The American Publishing Company, 1876. Item #03955
First American Edition, First Printing
TWAIN, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford, Conn.: The American Publishing Company, 1876.
First American edition, first printing, with the following points: printed on wove paper and half-title and frontispiece printed on separate leaves (with verso of half-title and recto of frontispiece blank) and all six fly-leaves on laid paper.
Square octavo (8 3/8 x 6 1/2 inches; 213 x 166 mm.). [6, blank], xvi, -274, , [1, blank], [4, publisher’s advertisements (“Revised December 1st, 1876.”)], [6, blank] pp. Wood-engraved frontispiece and numerous wood-engraved text illustrations by True Williams and others. Pages, 215/6, 243/4 & 245/6 with tiny pieces (1/4 x 1/8 inch max) torn away from upper corner. Some expert and very small repairs to inner hinges, some light stains to rear endpapers just affecting last two blank fly-leaves. Some light occasional marginal soiling, but still an excellent copy.
Original blue vertically-ribbed cloth decoratively stamped in black and gilt and lettered in gilt and blind on front cover and spine. Back cover decoratively stamped in black with publisher’s device stamped in black in the center. Original peach endpapers. Head and tail of spine and corners expertly and almost invisibly strengthened, small abrasion with loss of cloth (1/8 inch square) on rear cover, gilt on spine a little dull. Neat early ink presentation inscription on the front free endpaper, dated Dec 25th/76. Even with the aforementioned issues this is still an exceptional copy of the very rare first issue of this classic tale. Housed in a quarter black morocco clamshell case.
“Turning away from the adult corruption and humbuggery which he had satirized in The Gilded Age, Mark Twain refreshed his spirit in this semi-autobiographical story of boyhood. The irresponsibility, the love of odd adventure, and the sense of natural justice as opposed to the village code, which characterize the heroes of this book and its sequel Huckleberry Finn, presented a sharp contrast to the Sunday School or rags-to-riches literature which was then the common fare doled out to children. For once, the natural rights of the small boy were set forth by a great writer who remembered his own childhood, when he had indeed inveigled some boys into whitewashing a fence for him, given pain-killer to his cat, teased his brother unmercifully, and continually sharpened his wits in devising ways of escaping punishment. These books let fresh air into the minds of parents who had shut the door on their own childhood, and they will be classics the world over as long as there are boys” (Grolier, 100 American).
“The book was published during December 1876 although application for copyright had been made as early as July 21, 1875; copies were not received for entry at the Library of Congress until January 2, 1877. The [first] English edition [published by Chatto & Windus, London] was published on June 9, 1876, about six months before the American edition was put on sale” (Peter Parley to Penrod).
BAL 3369. Grolier, 100 American, 79. Johnson, Twain, pp. 27-30. Peter Parley to Penrod, pp. 43-44.