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Huck Finn with the rare first state of page 283

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885

Original half dark brown morocco gilt. Portrait frontispiece with sculptor’s name on the shoulder, State 3 of title but no priority acknowledged, State 1 of p. [13], p. 57 and p. 155, without 11 signature on p. 161, and the original first state of the illustration on p. 283. Light wear. Near fine.

First American edition, in publisher’s morocco with the rare first state of the illustration on p. 283.

While gathering advance subscriptions to Huckleberry Finn, traveling salesmen offered not only copies in cloth bindings but also deluxe leather bound copies such as the present example. The first copies printed were sent off to be put in those time-consuming bindings.

Soon thereafter, as printing progressed, an unknown individual defaced the plate on p. 283 with an engraving of a penis at Uncle Silas’s crotch. Thousands of copies were printed before the altered plate was discovered. Each of those offending leaves was cut out and replaced with leaf featuring the re-engraved illustration. This new illustration eliminated even the innocent hint of curvature (as was found in the first copies printed) and replaced Silas’s fly with a straight line. As the defacement occurred only after the advance sheets were shipped to be bound in leather, the plate in its first state only exists in the earliest copies in publisher’s leather bindings.

This is a handsome copy of the first state of this American classic reflecting an infamous epiode in American publishing history.

BAL 3415. Grolier 100 American Books 87.