First Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #4215
New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885. First Edition, with all BAL cloth-bound First Issue points except for a Second Issue portrait frontis (see below). Octavo, 366p. Engraved Huck and photographic Twain bust frontispieces with tissue guard between, along with numerous illustrations throughout. Green publisher’s cloth with gilt- and black-stamped lettering and illustration. Professionally rebacked with original backstrip retained and mounted on the new (original backing missing a shallow chip’s-worth at tail and a diagonal inch or so at head). Bottom edge rubbed with bumping to corners, with boards showing general scuffing and a few smudges. Paper repair to front free endpaper 2.5” down along top hinge, with shallow diagonal loss along top edge of leaf toward fore-edge. Huck frontis had been tipped in backwards during an apparent earlier attempt at repair, but has been corrected and reset, leaving some remnants of earlier adhesive along fore-edge. Old owner’s initials and price in pencil on front pastedown. Pages show a few small, clean tears at one margin or another, not involving text, a few flattened dog-ear creases, and some occasional smudges, but no writing. Binding is tight.
Points: Title leaf a cancel [BAL 2, with 1 only seen in the prospectus and advance sheets]; Frontis portrait with Heliotype imprint, “Karl Gerhardt, Sc.” added to shoulder of bust, and cloth not visible; Chapter VI header in Contents reads “Huck decides to leave”; p13 “Him and another man” illustration incorrectly listed on p 88; p57 11th line from bottom reads “with the was” [BAL 1], p143 “Col” missing the “l” at top of illustration, “b” in body broken on line 7; p155 Final “5” missing on page number; p283 Cancel with lewd Uncle Silas replaced [BAL 3, with 1 and 2 only seen in the prospectus, excised sheets, or a few leather-bound subscriber copies].
The above variations were introduced during an erratic and rather slapdash run-up to publication, with all versions hitting the streets at the same time upon release. Of these, the misprints on the Chapter VI header, the illustrations list on page 13, and in the text on page 57 are the three “agreed-upon” First Edition points, with discussions as to the priority of the rest often becoming more acrobatic. An overall solid copy of what is perhaps Twain’s most enduring work.