(Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1899 [-1907]). 215 x 140 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 1/2").  sample leaves, 5,  pp.
Publisher's limp brown morocco, gilt lettering on upper cover, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Etched series title page with emblem designed by Tiffany & Co. and 16 hand-printed plates on Japanese vellum, all with lettered guards. Front pastedown with sample green buckram spine for "Innocents Abroad." Ends of spine with shallow chips, front joint with one-inch crack at tail, extremities a bit rubbed, one tiny rust spot, faint thumbing to a couple of margins, but A FINE SPECIMEN of an ephemeral item, fresh, clean, and bright internally, the binding sound.
This prospectus announces the impending publication of a limited deluxe edition of 1,000 copies of the works of the most popular American author of his time. At $5 per volume--the equivalent of approximately $150 today--this 22-volume edition was clearly geared for the most discerning bibliophiles, and the quality of the prospectus reflects that. This is no salesman's dummy with sign-up sheets to be trotted from door to door in every town in American, but a well-bound brochure touting the Edition De Luxe's many advantages. These include biographical criticism by Brander Matthews, perhaps the prominent literary scholar of the day; specially made "Old Chester Antique Rag" paper with the watermark "MARK TWAIN"; illustrations by "the most skilled and most popular" American artists, printed by hand press on "Imperial Japan vellum," with "only perfect impressions" to be used; and frontispiece portraits in each volume depicting Twain as he looked at the time the title was originally issued, and etched titles with a Tiffany-designed monogram surrounded by vignettes "representing prominent episodes in the author's life." One surprising feature is the binding: only Holliston cloth with Japan paper title labels is offered. No doubt it was assumed that collectors would want to have volumes bound to suit their own taste. In addition to examples of the title pages, frontispiece portraits, and plates, the prospectus contains sample pages from the preface by Twain, Matthew's "Biographical Criticism," "Innocents Abroad," "Roughing It," "Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," "A Tramp Abroad," "Life on the Mississippi," "Following the Equator," "The Gilded Age," and "The Prince and the Pauper." The final page directs inquiries to the exclusive distributor of this edition, The New England Society. (ST15076)
Add to Cart Price: $3,250.00
PJP Catalog: RBMS19.019