The Stolen White Elephant

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Author: Twain, Mark [PSUED Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910)

Year: 1882

Publisher: James R Osgood and Company

Place: Boston


306+[12 ad] pages Duodecimo (6 3/4" x 5") bound in decorative brown and cream cloth with gilt blind stamped "Mark Twain" to cover and head of an elephant and brown lettering to spine and cover. (BAL 3404; McBride: page 81) First edition.

The title-story of this collection of 18 stories (including all of those previously printed in Punch, Brothers, Punch!) is a wonderful burlesque about a sacred white elephant that is stolen while being transported from Siam, via New Jersey, to Queen Victoria, as a diplomatic gesture of goodwill after the settlement of the dispute. It is an early detective story itself, although the dozens of detectives involved in the search are hopelessly inept. The book is recorded only in one binding, and there was but one printing. BAL describes the cloth as "tan," but it is really a cream pictorial cloth stamped in brown and gilt. Most copies are indeed tan, having aged with time. When Osgood's business failed a few years after publication his stock was taken over by Charles L Webster, who issued copies of the original sheets with his own cancel title-page. This is not recorded by Johnson or BAL, but the only copy seen was in green cloth with Webster's imprint at foot. (Firsts Volume 8, numbers 7/8 page 45-46 by Kevin MacDonnell).


Some foxing to covers, as usual, spine ends lightly rubbed, previous owner's gift inscription to front end paper else a very good copy.

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