Mark Twain books and autographs still entice collectors after all these years
The US author Mark Twain was born today in history – but his history is very much alive for collectors
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Wednesday 30 November 2011
Happy Birthday to Mark Twain! The American author and humourist was born today as Samuel Clemens on November 30, 1835.
His classic writings, including the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, continue to beguile new generations of readers.
As well as leaving a canon of literary classics behind him, Twain has also brought plenty of joy to collectors over the years...
Put simply: collectibles linked to writers like Twain are among the most enjoyable pieces on the markets. Especially handwritten manuscripts and annotated materials.
Thanks to popular collectibles like inscribed books and other autographed pieces, collectors can today enjoy items formerly held in Twain's very own hands.
Big Mark Twain auction sales have included a first edition of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches. It was first published by CH Webb in New York, back in 1867.
Cory blimey... Mark Twain misspells Corry O'Lanus's name in this
This was Mark Twain's first book, whose value was further enhanced by the great man's signature in a personal inscription within.
It reads: "To Cory O'Lanus, with compt's of Mark Twain." This wasn't any old first edition, either, but a presentation copy.
John Stanton was a reporter who, under the pen-name Corry O'Lanus, is thought to have reviewed Twain's second New York City lecture which was delivered on 10 May 1867 at the city's Brooklyn Athenaeum.
"No type could do justice to the cool, self possession of the lecturer," wrote Stanton.
Despite the good review, Twain misspelled "Corry" as "Cory" in his inscription.
In the end, this book sold for $114,000 at Sotheby's in New York, back in 2004. And it could be worth considerably more on today's markets.
It isn't only Twain first edition books which get auction buyers excited, but also rare autographed manuscripts...
Like this autographed note sold by Paul Fraser Collectibles (pictured below).
Dated June 5 of an unspecified year, the note thanks a family for baggage that has been ticketed and labelled.
Its signature reads "S L Clemens" and, not surprisingly, this signed manuscript didn't remain in our stock for very long. You can view our other rare manuscripts for sale by following this link.
Last but not least, there is Twain's work which is generally considered to be one of the Great American novels: the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The book has always been a hit at auction. HA.com sold a first edition, first printing copy of the work in 2006. It bore the printing date of 1884 and showed Twain's own publishing company Charles L Webster.
That book brought $7,170 in HA.com's sale. But other texts related to the book have stirred more competition...
In February 2008, a mysterious document appeared at HA.com and sold for $16,730.
Mark Twain intended a sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, provisionally titled Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians.
In fact, the writer was already researching his sequel while the first book was waiting to be published. Yet, after 15,000 words, the original manuscript breaks-off in mid-sentence...
Why? We will never know.
Such continuing mysteries surrounding Samuel Clemens and his canon of incredible works indicate that their collectibility - and appreciating values - should continue to grow for many years to come.
Recent and related articles
Mark Twain's handwritten views on Switzerland bring $79,300 in Chicago | 22 November 2010
Handwritten Mark Twain manuscript could fetch $50,000 in Chicago | 18 November 2010
Guides and analysis