Mark Twain Inscribed “The Innocents Abroad”

Value (2011) | $3,000 Auction$4,000 Auction
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GUEST:
It was my great-grandfather's, and then it was passed down to my grandfather, and my father found it in his house when he passed away.

APPRAISER:
It is a copy of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, one of his very popular books. This one, to my surprise, when I first saw it-- it was a beautiful copy, I said, "My God, this is great," thinking it was a first edition-- I went to check it out, in fact it's not, it was published in 1902.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So I was a little let down. And then when I opened it, I thought, "Well, this makes a bit of a difference," and here you've got on the paste-down-- we call this the paste-down of the book-- a very nice and lengthy inscription and signature signed as "Mark Twain." His real name was Samuel Clemens. And not only has he signed it, he's written what he was famous for writing sometimes: aphorisms. In this case, he says, "Consider well the proportions of things. It is better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise."

GUEST:
I like that a lot.

APPRAISER:
"Truly yours, Mark Twain, April 4, 1906." We don't know who that was inscribed to, if that would have been your great-great-grandfather, or do you have any...

GUEST:
Um, I don't think so. This over here we thought kind of looked like it says, "For Rachel."

APPRAISER:
Yeah, it does look like that, it looks like "For Rachel."

GUEST:
I'm not sure who that is.

APPRAISER:
And then there's a bookplate here, "Frank A. Dudley." Does that name mean anything to you?

GUEST:
No, I was actually going to ask you about that.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, he's not any recognizable collector that we know of offhand. So when we look at rare books, we look at condition, we look at the edition, and in this case it wasn't the first edition. However, the inscription with the aphorism gives it another dimension of value. I would put the auction estimate at $3,000 to $4,000.

GUEST:
That's kind of what my dad and I were thinking.

APPRAISER:
Oh, you guys had thought that already?

GUEST:
We just guessed.

APPRAISER:
If it was a first edition, it would probably be at $5,000 to $7,000, so the edition is important in the value, but it's not the overriding value of the book.

GUEST:
Okay, I think my dad will like that.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, New York
Appraised value (2011)
$3,000 Auction$4,000 Auction
Event
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Book
Material
Paper

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