Mark Twain's handwritten views on Switzerland bring $79,300 in Chicago

Few things cause more excitement amongst book and manuscript collectors than hearing that a notable author's original handwritten manuscript is up for sale.

We saw this last year when Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished work The Original of Laura, (alternatively titled Dying is Fun) in the form of 138 indexed cards went under the hammer at Christie's with a $400,000-600,000 estimate and a great deal of excitement.

In the event, it was somewhat eclipsed by a unique letter by George Washington to his nephew Bushrod in which he endorsed the idea of a Constitution. The letter sold for a breathtaking $3.2m. Nevertheless, whoever owns the Lolita author's work has a strong investment.

For Americans in particular, there are few more exciting authors than Mark Twain, so when an autograph manuscript comprising Chapter XLII of A Tramp Abroad, written in black ink on rectos was slated to go under the hammer at Leslie Hindman in Chicago on November 18, it sent a ripple through the collecting community.

Mark Twain Tramp abroad chapter Switzerland
Mark Twain's Tramp Abroad chapter: Switzerland

Best-known for his tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain was also a renowned travel writer and his two volumes detailing journeys throughout Europe: The Innocents Abroad (1869) and A Tramp Abroad (1880), show insights into international travel and cultures which still strike a chord.

The chapter begins with Clemens' description of Switzerland as "a large, humpy, solid rock, with a thin skin of grass stretched over it," and continues with his anecdotal assessment of the people of that country, their manners and customs.

As it turned out, even Leslie Hindman's estimate of $30,000-50,000 proved too low as keen bidders buffeted the lot up to $79,300.

Books and Manuscripts connected to Twain (such as this signed pamphlet available here) are greatly sought-after, and a rock-solid investment as his books are well-read worldwide and tourists flock to his home.


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