Early 20th-century finely printed edition of the story that first brought Twain fame, exceptionally scarce with his signature on the front pastedown.
"There was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of '49 or may be it was the spring of '50 I don't recollect exactly..."
Twain's first published works, as young as sixteen, were brief but hilarious retellings of events he had witnessed, a formula he would carry into his earliest professional work as a journalist out West. Invited by the famous comedian writer Artemus Ward to contribute a humorous story to one of his collections, Twain sent a piece across the country only to have it left out because it arrived too late. That piece, a riff on the well-known story in the West about a confidence man getting conned in a frog leaping contest, ended up in the newspaper NEW YORK SATURDAY PRESS instead – and took off. Newspapers across the country picked up the story and Twain became a literary sensation. In 1867, Twain published it as the leading story in his first book: in a run of only 1000 copies, it sold out within 5 days. This early 20th-century edition is unusual and exceptionally desirable signed by him.
Read more: MacDonnell, "Collecting Mark Twain: A History and Three New Paths," in Firsts Magazine.
New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1903. 8'' x 5''. Original red pictorial cloth with frog design stamped in brown, white, and green. Black and white frontispiece. , 66 pages. Signed by Twain in black ink on front pastedown. Spine sunned, a bit of rubbing to spine ends and corners, else fresh and clean: hinges strong, interior beautiful.
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