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    Description

    Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain") Five Items Including Two Autograph Manuscripts composed in Bermuda, where he spent the last months of his life. Twain's manuscripts, written entirely in his hand, are composed on adjoining pages of a single sheet (9.75" x 6.5" overall) of his personalized mourning stationery. The group also includes a period photograph of Clemens and Helen Allen in Bermuda (6.25" x 6.5"), a letter from his biographer Albert Bigelow Paine to President Taft, and the official White House response.

    The first manuscript dated March 6, 1910 is actually a humorous device created in playful response to his Bermudian hosts, the Allen family. In full: "Bay House, March 6/10. Received of S.L.C. / Two Dollars and Forty Cents / in return for my promise to believe everything he says hereafter." Helen Allen has signed her name in full beneath acknowledging the payment received. The payment of $2.40, as intended by Twain, made it a binding legal agreement. Twain was now free to tell the most outlandish stories and Ms. Allen was now "legally bound" to believe him without question. The accompanying photograph shows Twain and Ms. Allen, both in swimsuits bathing in the waters at at Bay House (the Allen home). The photograph was taken two year earlier, and is one of several of which Twain shared copies with Ms. Allen. The moment captured depicts the relationship that existed between the two and the great fun this "legal" agreement must have brought. Twain stands posed with his hands on his hips and a knowing smile on his face; the much younger Ms. Allen looks away laughing, bent slightly forward and struggling to maintain her composure. (For passages from an article written by Helen's mother regarding Twain's stay in Bermuda please go to HA.com/6030-69001.)

    A compelling argument can be made that the second manuscript, written on the adjoining page, could only have been penned between April 8 and April 11, 1910. In full: "For Sale. The proprietor of the hereinbeforementioned Promise desires to part with it on account of ill health and obliged to go away somewheres so as to let it reciprocate, and will take any reasonable amount for it above 2 per cent of its face because experienced parties think it will not keep but a little while in this kind of weather, and is a kind of proppity that don't give a dam for cold storage nohow."

    Twain cites his "ill health" as the reason for his forced departure from Bermuda. After suffering a severe heart attack, his doctors ("experienced parties") told him if he were to stay in Bermuda he would soon die there (that he "will not keep but a little while in this kind of weather"). In his final line he declares that he does not want to die, "a kind of proppity that don't give a dam for cold storage nohow." Mark Twain is unquestionably writing about himself, specifically about his declining health and desire to stay alive.

    William H. Allen, his host, secretly wrote to Alfred Bigelow Paine about Twain's rapidly declining health. Paine responded immediately and arrived in Bermuda on April 4th. Twain had his second nearly fatal heart attack on April 8th. This heart attack prompted doctors to persuade Mark Twain to leave Bermuda as soon as possible. They believed cooler air would relieve his asthma. Not wanting to die in Bermuda, Twain agreed to depart on April 12. Twain likely returned the handwritten "promise" to Helen as a keepsake; the added passage explaining the reasons for the return and delivering the "punch line" to what had originated as a comic device.

    Once Twain returned home to Stormfield, he was too weak to write more than a few very short inscriptions and notes. On April 21st, he was unable to speak intelligibly, and wrote a few almost illegible notes consisting of just a few words each. He died later that day. The next morning, friend William Dean Howells wrote Twain's sole surviving daughter Clara, "I found Mr. Paine's telegram when I came in late last night; and suddenly your father was set apart from all other men in a strange majesty. Death had touched his familiar image into historic grandeur."

    This wonderful group capturing Twain's final days is completed with these two letters:

    Albert Bigelow Paine Autograph Letter Signed to President Taft, one page, 4.5" x 7", March 8, 1912. Marked "copy" and penned on Player's Club stationary, Paine asks the President to appoint Mr. Allen Consulship to the United States, "Mr. Allen has been doing the work of the office for years, and has the widest and most favorable acquaintance. Mark Twain loved him, and his, and spent his last months in his home. It was from there that I brought him, April 12, 1910 to his own home, in Conn., to die. There is a national obligation somewhere in that, I think, to Mr. Allen."

    Rudolph Forster Typed Letter Signed to Albert B. Paine, one page on White House stationery, 5.5" x 9.25", March 9, 1912. This was the reply Paine received, "In the President's absence, permit me to acknowledge receipt of your letter of recent date, in the interest of the appointment of Mr. William H. Allen to be consul at Hamilton, Bermuda, in the event of a vacancy, and to say that it will be brought to his attention upon his return." Mr. Allen received the appointment as soon as the position became available.

    Following are the conditions for each piece:
    1. The two Twain autograph manuscripts are on the same sheet of Twain's mourning stationery (9.75" x 6.5" overall). The stationery has a central vertical fold and a central horizontal fold. No separation along the folds. Very light stray marks can be seen.
    2. On the verso of the photograph (6.25" x 6.5"), are large penciled notations. The photograph itself is lightly toned.
    3. The Albert Bigelow Paine Autograph Letter Signed to President Taft, one page, 4.5" x 7". It is embossed at the top with "The Players/ Sixteen Gramercy Park." "(Copy)" has been written in pencil in the top left corner of page one. Minor stains; some toning. With folds and very slight wrinkling.
    4. The Rudolph Forster Typed Letter Signed to Albert B. Paine, one page on White House stationery, 5.5" x 9.25" has folds. Text and signature are slightly faded.

    All items are in fine condition.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
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