Description

    First American Edition, Purportedly Eugene Field's Copy, with Signatures of Famous Forgers Eugene Field II and Harry D. Sickles

    Mark Twain. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.

    First American edition, early issue, with these points: title-leaf is a cancel (BAL second state, the earliest state found in published copies); p. [13], illustration captioned "Him and Another Man" is listed at p. 88 (BAL first state); p. 57 has the misprint "with the was" (BAL first state); p. 283 is original conjugate leaf (BAL first state); on p. 155, the second "5" of page number extends below the first two numbers (BAL third state); and the portrait frontispiece has the Heliotype Printing Company imprint with tablecloth (BAL first state). Square octavo. 366 pages. 174 illustrations. Portrait frontispiece.

    Early twentieth-century half brown morocco over slate moiré silk boards. Spine has decorative gilt and two small jade green leather onlays and one raised band. Marbled endpapers. Top edge gilt. Pages are somewhat toned with occasional foxing, light staining, and some thumb smudges. Short closed tears to a couple of pages; final printed leaf has a large chip to top edge (not affecting text) which has been repaired/filled. Eugene Field's purported bookplate to front free endpaper. Handwritten notation by Eugene Field II at rear. Gift inscription from Harry D. Sickles in pencil on flyleaf. A handsome binding of a book in very good condition.

    Ostensibly Eugene Field's copy, with a bookplate bearing his name and "Eugene Field's Copy" printed in gilt on the spine. On the verso of a terminal blank leaf is this notation, written in green ink: "This book came from the library of my father, Eugene Field. - Eugene Field II, 6/3/19." Eugene Field the elder was a well-known writer of children's verse (best-known for his poem "Wynken, Blinkyn, and Nod"). Field's son, Eugene Field II was not so beloved a figure. The younger Field was a notorious forger of Abraham Lincoln's signature (and, also, incidentally, of his own father's and grandfather's signatures as well as Mark Twain's signature).

    In his book Great Forgers and Famous Fakes, Charles Hamilton writes: "Sometime in 1930 or 1931, Eugene Field II apparently formed a partnership in the manufacture of Lincoln-signed books, pamphlets, sheet music and maps with Harry D. Sickles, a Chicago forger then living at the Congress Hotel. Sickles was not as skilled as Field, but his items had an equally good provenance." The pair of forgers were extremely successful in their scams. Not only does this book contain the signature of master forger Eugene Field II, it also has the signature of his partner in forgery, Harry D. Sickles. The book apparently once belonged to Sickles, with a gift inscription in pencil that reads: "To Roy from Harry D. Sickles 1926." Given the unreliability of both men, it's debatable whether this book actually did come from the elder Field's library, but the association value of famed forgers Field and Sickles certainly adds a great deal of interest to this classic work by Twain.

    BAL 3415, Hamilton, p.14.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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