1873 1st edition Mark Twain, The Gilded Age. American Publishing. Bal 3357


A well-loved 1st edition, early state of The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner.

Mark Twain’s first novel! The term gilded age, commonly given to the era, comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." (Act IV, scene 2) Gilding gold, which would be to put gold on top of gold, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel. Another interpretation of the title, of course, is the contrast between an ideal "Golden Age" and a less worthy "Gilded Age", as gilding is only a thin layer of gold over baser metal, so the title now takes on a pejorative meaning as to the novel's time, events and people. The novel concerns the efforts of a poor rural family to become affluent by selling in a timely manner the 75,000 acres (300 km2) of unimproved land acquired by their patriarch, Silas "Si" Hawkins.

This is a well-loved copy, but it's also very early. A "Christmas 1873" gift inscription on the endpapers testifies to its state of printing; the book was just released in time for Christmas 1873. The Bibliography of American Literature lists the points of the earliest copies of the 1st edition. Except for repeating lines on pages 351-353, this has the other points. There is etc., etc. in its entirety on the title page; electrotyper is on the back. Eschol is the bookseller (who sued, and it was quickly changed). Final illustration listed is 211. There is no comma after Hallelujah. There is a period after Dr. Jackson(.). There is no illustration on 403. Peach pastedowns, three endpapers.

The advertisements were not put in this copy.

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 23 x 15.5 x 4.5 cm.. Cloth covered hardcover with gilt ring decoration to front board. Respined. Illustrated. Pages - (3), frontis, xvi, 17-574, Appendix (1), (3).

Condition -

See pictures. Vintage patina.Well-loved. Re-spined, but so well you have to stare at it a long time to realize it (even going over the American publishing impression so that it appears); simply seems faded, with no gilt. All edges and boards rubbed. 3 cm crack at bottom of front joint which gives away repair. Endpapers very toned with some foxing. Repair glued the flyleaf a little high on the board at the gutter. "Christmas 1873" gift inscription on 1st blank unpaginated endpaper. Some foxing, thumbing, toning throughout. Occasional page and corner folds, etc. Much chipping and some repair to the fold-out. On page 18/19 you can see all four fingers used to turn the page at the fore-edge; who turns with their entire hand?! Old library repair tape at rear hinge. A great reading copy. Repaired, so functioning as a book well, but far from perfect; a good choice for a budget conscious collector and reader.

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