511
511
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 7,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
511
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 7,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

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New York

Clemens, Samuel L.
Autograph letter signed ("Sam'l"), 5 1/2 pages on Charles L. Webster stationery, New York, 26 September 1893, to his wife, reporting that there is no money to finish the Paige typesetting machine and his meeting with their former butler, George Griffin; 2 or 3 minor water spots.
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Catalogue Note

"The type-setter is standing dead still. Neither here nor in Chicago can they raise any money to finish the machine with thus far." Clemens had met James Paige, inventor of the eponymous compositor in 1880 and began to invest modestly in the machine but chronic delays in perfecting the machine ended up costing over $200,000. It was ultimately too complicated to work and to manufacture and its failure was the chief cause of Clemens's bankruptcy in 1894.

"He is about as remarkable a character I know, I must put him in my next book." By contrast his former black manservant, George Griffin, whom he met on this visit to New York, was working as a waiter at the Union League Club and prospering as a private banker for the other waiters. Clemens took George to the Century office and showed him a number of artist's proofs for Tom Sawyer Abroad. They then adjourned to a bar where George described his business activities at the Union League Club. "George has made more money than he ever made in his life before—lending money to the waiters at the Union League at a hundred per cent a month. Has also lent money to members privately — gentlemen who were wealthy till the panic struck them & now have to borrow of George on their watches and diamonds to pay their Club dues ... But he lends to the waiters without interest when they want the money to get their sick children sent to the country. 'Six months ago I wouldn't a done it ... I'd a said business is business, & babies ain't anything to me; but it's different, now, Mr. Clemens, ... because I've got a baby myself & it just makes a different person of me.'" Clemens provides biographical details about George in his "Family Sketch" (see lot 520): "He came to wash some windows & remained half a generation. ... He was ... shrewd, wise, polite, always good-natured, cheerful to gaiety, honest, religious, a cuatious truth-seeker, devoted friend to the family, champion of its interests, a sort of idol to the children & a trial to Mrs. Clemens." Geoge arrived in the 1870s, accompanied the family to Europe in 1878 but left their employ in 1891.  He was one of several models for Huckleberry Finn's Jim.

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

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New York