Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, First Edition, First Printing in Rare Original Blue Cloth Binding, 1885

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade). New York: Charles L. Webster, 1885. First US edition, first issue. Octavo, original gilt and black-stamped blue pictorial cloth. With 174 illustrations by Edward Kemble.

This is a rare, blue cloth copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain initially conceived of the work as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to follow Huckleberry Finn through adulthood. Beginning with a few pages he had removed from the earlier novel, Twain began work on a manuscript he originally titled Huckleberry Finn's Autobiography. Twain worked on the manuscript off and on for the next several years, ultimately abandoning his original plan of following Huck's development into adulthood. He lost interest in the manuscript and set it aside for several years. After making a trip down the Hudson River, Twain returned to his work on the novel. Upon completion, the novel's title closely paralleled its predecessor's: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). Twain composed the story in pen on notepaper between 1876 and 1883.

From the moment of publication, Huckleberry Finn endured critical attacks, standing accused of “blood-curdling humor,” immorality, coarseness and profanity. The book nevertheless emerged as one of the defining novels of American literature, prompting Ernest Hemingway to declare: “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since.” Huck has been called “the most praised and most condemned 19th-century American work of fiction” (Legacies of Genius, 47)

The book was published in both green and blue cloth binding. Subscribers who had already purchased Tom Sawyer, and wanted a binding to match, were invited to request a blue cloth binding on Huck instead of the publisher’s green. This is one of those blue bindings—10 times rarer than the green.


The book is in very good condition. Conservator did repair joints of book, touch up to back joint. Several small points of foxing throughout, otherwise internally clean. A matching blue clamshell case with signature recessed and photographic inlay was created.

This copy has all of the commonly identified first issue points. First issue points: page [9] with “Decided” remaining uncorrected (to “Decides”); page [13], illustration captioned “Him and another Man” listed as on page 88; page 57, 11th line from bottom reads “with the was.” Debate continues over the priority of other points of issue and state. This copy contains the following points of bibliographical interest: frontispiece portrait, bearing the Heliotype Printing Co. imprint, has cloth table cover under the bust; copyright page dated 1884; page 143 with “l” missing from “Col” and broken “b” in “body” on line seven; page 155 without the final “5”; page 161, no signature mark “11”; pages 283-84 is a cancel (Kemble’s illustration with straight pant-fly) as described by Johnson (page 48) and MacDonnell (pages 32-33).

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