The Gilded Age. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1874
In 8s (8 5/8 x 5 5/8 in.; 220 x 143 mm). 20 illustrated plates, numerous wood-engraved text illustrations, folding map of the Salt Lick Railroad, 4 pages of publisher's advertisements at the end; moderate to strong browning of plates, light, occasional scattered foxing. Contemporary half brown morocco over brown cloth, spine lettered gilt, marbled endpapers; joints rubbed. Together with: Autograph letter signed ("Samuel L. Clemens"), one page on Clemens's calendered stationery embossed in red with his monogram and address (Farmington Avenue, Hartford), 14 April , to Mrs. P. T. Barnum, sending his and Mrs. Clemens's condolences over the untimely death of her 31-year-old step-daughter Pauline Barnum Seeley.
Presentation copy, inscribed to the wife of his friend Phineas T. Barnum: "To | Mrs. P. T. Barnum | with the kindest wishes of | the Author | Oct. 1875." The legendary showman Phineas T. Barnum lived most of his life in Bridgeport, Connecticut—a short distance southwest of Hartford, where Clemens lived between 1871 and 1891. During this period the two men exchanged visits and letters. Both popular lecturers, Barnum particularly enjoyed attending Clemens's performances. Clemens wove in references to Barnum's lifelong passion of collecting curiosities into several of his works, including The Capitoline Venus (1869), The Stolen White Elephant (1882), and The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg (1899).
The book is a later printing and conforms to all but one of BAL's points about the later state but does contain the appendix of translations for the mottoes that head each chapter which is usually found in later printings. Clemens's friend J. H. Trumbull selected the quotes from forty-two languages, many of them exotic (e.g., Sanskrit, Yoruba, Efik, Arawak, and Kanuri). The quotes in the main relate to the content of each chapter. In Chapter 16 of A Tramp Abroad (1880), Clemens claimed to have "a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation" (Rasmussen, Mark Twain A–Z, p. 167).
Clemens presented three of his works to Mrs. Barnum—née Nancy Fish—in October 1875 (see following two lots), a year after she was married. It was Barnum's second marriage (his first wife, Charity Hallett, died after 44 years of marriage in November 1873). The books were presented to Mrs. Barnum possibly as a gift to honor her twentieth-fifth birthday.
Also included in the lot is a letter of condolence over the loss of Barnum's youngest daughter. Loosely inserted is a letter of condolence in Clemens's hand to Mrs. Barnum over the death of her step-daughter, Pauline Seeley. Pauline died 11 April 1877 at the age of thirty-one. The letter, dated 14 April reads: My wife and I are greatly pained to learn of the decease of Mrs. Seeley, whom we remember so well & so pleasantly. Words are of but little value at such a time, but still we are moved to tender our deep sympathy to you and your household in your great bereavement."
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