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Item 17. First edition of Clemens’ first published book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County—“The most famous tale in California, if not Western, history” (Kurutz).
17. [CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (1835-1910)]. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other
Sketches. By Mark Twain [pseud.]. Edited by John Paul [pseud.
of Charles Henry Webb]. New York: C. H. Webb, Publisher, 1867. [1, blank]
[1, publisher’s ad] 198 pp. 12mo, original green gilt-lettered cloth,
gilt jumping frog in diagonal position on lower left corner of upper
cover, blindstamped jumping frog in same position on lower cover, beveled
edges. Mild wear and light abrading to cloth, occasional mild foxing
(almost entirely confined to blank preliminary and terminal leaves),
a very good to fine copy, preserved in a chemise and half red morocco
and red cloth slipcase. With Warren R. Howell’s pencil note on rear pastedown:
“rytxto [cost code] 1st issue.”
Mark Twain, with his account of the jumping frog, produced the most
famous tale in California, if not Western, history. This little gem of
humor that introduced the famed author’s first book gave him international
prominence. As his publisher, Charles Henry Webb, noted, “By his story
of the Frog, he scaled the heights of popularity at a single jump.” Twain’s
compilation of tales, along with those of Bret Harte, continues to romanticize
and popularize the Gold Rush. The story of the lead-loaded frog (named
Daniel Webster) made Angels Camp one of the best-known tourist attractions
in the gold country.
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: Merle Johnson, A Bibliography of the Works of Mark Twain (New York & London: Harper & Brothers, 1935), pp. 3-9; Oscar Lewis, The Origin of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 1931); George Williams III, Mark Twain and the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (Carson City: Tree by the River Publishing, 1999).