The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches. Mark Twain.

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches

New York: C.H. Webb, 1867. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition of his first book, 1st printing (only 1,000 copies), 1st binding (something like 100 of the 1,000). Original brown cloth, 1 of 7 colors with no priority (green is the most common, more than half the edition), early owner’s name to the top blank margin of the title page, tiny nick to the front free endpaper, still fine, crisp, condition, dazzling beyond reasonable expectation. Identifying the 1st printing is straightforward. It was published in May 1867, at $1.25, and all copies have a single ad leaf on yellow paper inserted before the title, an unbroken “1” in the folio (page number) 21, an unbroken “e” in “life” in the last line of page 66, and an unbroken “i” in “this” in the last line of page 198. The 1st binding can’t be missed. It has the gilt stamped frog in the center of the front cover and vertical (nose up), and the blind stamped frog in the same position of the back cover. After Twain, Webb and the on–site manager examined the first few copies bound, the frog was quickly moved to the lower left corner and pointed at a 45° angle, a design preference to which all concerned agreed. Once the frog was moved from the center to the corner it stayed there throughout Webb’s editions so this is not a random, alternating positioning because the 2nd binding of the 1st printing has, and all copies of the later printings have, the frog in the lower left corner. Considering the small print run, survivors of the 1st printing are not as scarce as one would extrapolate, but fine copies of the 1st printing are very scarce, and those that are fine and in the 1st binding, with the frog in the front cover’s center are rare, and in the elusive brown cloth (about 10% of the 1,000 copies, and most of those in the 2nd binding with the frog in the corner), this copy brings together every desirable essential for Twain’s first book, and in this combination of virtues is probably unmatched and certainly unsurpassable (the last 1st printing at auction in the 1st binding and brown cloth was 23 years ago and it was a dead frog, heavily worn, and defective, with broken hinges, and artless recoloring). Collation: 12mo. (4 1/2” X 6 5/8”) [1, blank] [1, publisher’s ad] 198, [2, blank] pp. <1– 812, 94>. Reference: B. A. L. 3310. 27 stories, all sharply written but it is the title story that endures as the archetypal California tale and gave Twain access to the business of literature. “By his story of the Frog, he scaled the heights of popularity at a single jump.” Charles Henry Webb, publisher of The Celebrated Jumping Frog. Fine. Item #342

Price: $50,000.00

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