Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade) - Mark Twain [Samuel L. Clemens] 1885 - Charles L. Webster, New York - First Edition, first printing, in earliest state. A finely bound first edition of a quintessential classic of 19th century American literature. Illustrated throughout. Following the classic 'boy's own' adventures of the promising young gent Tom Sawyer, Twain here attempts a more mature, somewhat darker picture of a less privileged American childhood on the mighty Mississippi. Regarded by many as a cornerstone of American literature, it confronts issues such as slavery in a sympathetic yet humorously sardonic tone which belonged to Twain alone.

We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed—only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all—that night, nor the next, nor the next.’
  The present copy exhibits the following B.A.L. [3415] and MacDonnel issue points, identifying it as the first printing of November 1884 with the earliest possible combination of issue points for a cloth copy (see article below for more information):-

First printing points for first 10,000 print run finished in November 1884: -
i. On page 13 the illustration captioned "Him and another Man" is incorrectly listed as p.88 (first printing).
ii. 11th line from bottom of p.57 reads ‘with the was’ (first printing) instead of 'with the saw'.
iii. Page 9 [the ‘Contents' leaf] with the misprint ‘Decided' (first printing) instead of 'Huck Decides' under 'Chapter VI'.

Additional B.A.L. points:-
i. Title leaf is a cancel with copyright notice dated 1884 (second state - note that the first state with the has only been seen in a prospectus and set of advance sheets).
ii. p. 283 is a cancel, with corrected engraving (third state - note that contentious first state 'bulging fly' plate and second state have only been seen in prospectus and leather bound copies).
iii. The final 5 in the numeration of page ‘155’ is not lacking (disputed second state).
iv. First state of the frontispiece portrait - with Heliotype Printing Co. and with the tablecloth, or scarf, on which the bust rests is clearly visible.


In the September 1998 edition of Firsts
The Book Collector's Magazine Kevin MacDonnell reviewed the disputed issue points in his article ‘Huck Finn among the Issue-Mongers’:-

“In November [1884], after the first printing was finished and before the second printing of 10,000 copies was begun (the third printing of another 10,000 copies did not follow until March, 1885), the plates were corrected to reflect three changes in the text: at page 13 the erroneous page reference ‘88’ was changed to ‘87’; at page 57 the misprint ‘with the was' was corrected to ‘with the saw'; and at page 9 [the ‘Contents' leaf] the misprint ‘Decided' was corrected to ‘Decides.' This last change was overlooked by Johnson, BAL, and every other bibliographer, but was noted by the Iowa-Berkeley editors of
Huckleberry Finn. Because these three changes are documented as having been made between the first and second printings, they can absolutely distinguish the first and second printing sheets from each other. While mixing of sheets can sometimes occur during the collating or binding process, no copy of Huckleberry Finn has been found that does not have all three of these changes present, or all three absent. That strongly suggests that no mixing of first and second printing sheets took place. Unlike those changes made between the two printings, the corrections made to the plates during the course of the first printing are of no use in distinguishing between the two printings.

By early November, the sheets of
Huckleberry Finn were being forwarded for binding, and within a week or two it was discovered that the illustration at page 283 had been altered in the master plate to make it appear as if Uncle Silas was exposing his penis. By the time the ribald alteration (that's BAL's term, not mine) was discovered, the first printing was finished, and some sheets may have been in bindings, some sheets had been gathered and sewn, and some were collated but not yet sewn. No copies of the book, in cloth or in leather, show clear evidence of having had page 283 canceled after binding. All surviving copies that contain the cancelled page, when closely examined, show evidence that the cancel took place after the sheets were sewn, but before they were nipped and trimmed for casing into the binding. In addition to the obscene illustration, a change was made in the plate for the copyright page, correcting the copyright date from 1885 to 1884. No copies of the book exist with the 1885 copyright page in un-canceled state, including copies in leather.

Readers familiar with the traditional bibliographical ‘points' of
Huckleberry Finn may object that I have dismissed those ‘points' that involve damaged plates (the missing ‘l' in the illustration at page 143 that was replaced at some point; the three states of page 155 involving the replacement of the final ‘5'; the signature mark at page 161 that was missing, but eventually replaced). Because these resulted from damage to the plates at various points within the course of the first printing, and repairs could have been made to some plates while not to others, they are of no significance in determining the sequence of the printing of the sheets. All of these occur at random in relation to each other within copies of the first printing, a strong indicator of the use of multiple plates, and possibly mixed sheets within the collating process. Finally, the signature mark at page 161 has never been found in a copy of the first or second printing, so it hardly warrants discussion"

References: BAL 3415. Peter Parley to Penrod 75. Johnson, pages 43-50. Grolier,
American, 87. MacDonnell, FIRSTS Magazine, Sept. 1998 (Vol. 8, No. 9), pages 29-35.

Large octavo (binding size 22x17.7cm), pp. [2] 366 [2].
  Elegantly bound in full green morocco, spine with raised bands, lettered in gilt, inner gilt dentelles, top edge gilt, black endpapers, with the original cloth covers preserved at rear.   Condition: Fine, but for small spot along top edge to last few pages, in fine binding.   Ref: 111832   Price: HK$ 38,000