Hartford [etc.]: The American Publishing Company, 1876. 4 pp ads dated 1 Dec 1876. Original publisher's brown half-morocco, spine decorated in darker brown, with brown cloth boards, all page edges gilt.
First American Edition, third printing, in the uncommon half-morocco binding offered by the publisher at extra cost. There were three (and maybe one or two more) printings of TOM SAWYER that were dated 1876 --not so identified. The first printing (on wove paper) is the only one with the half-title and frontispiece on separate adjacent leaves, rather than back-to-back on one leaf. The second printing has them back-to-back, and has several mispaginations among the preliminary leaves; because such copies appear on laid paper, on wove paper, or on a combination of both papers, it is uncertain whether this second state consists of one or two (or even possibly three) printings. The third printing (as here -- the last printing bearing the 1876 date) has the back-to-back leaf and also has only the final preliminary page paginated (xvi).
This copy is in the publisher's extra-cost binding of half-morocco with all page edges gilt; the other options, in addition to the standard blue cloth, were cloth with gilt page edges, and "library" (i.e. full sheep). According to the publisher's stock-book (quoted by Blanck), of 9,879 copies delivered by the binder to the publisher between December 8, 1876 and January 8, 1877 (perhaps NOT yet including this third printing), there were 7,431 in standard cloth, 748 in cloth gilt, 1,500 in sheep, and 200 in half-morocco -- so one can infer that copies such as this are not common.
As for condition, we would say this copy is very good-plus, though better than that externally, with only minor rubbing at the extremities; the front endpaper is cracked (but the volume is tight), and there is a two-inch closed tear at the top of the title page (which bears an inked signature -- also appearing on the endpaper -- dated in Hot Springs Ark. in 1888).
One of the great classics of American literature, as enjoyable today as it was 120 years ago, TOM has become an uncommon book in any state (much less common than HUCKLEBERRY FINN, for example); the first printing in this binding would be a $25,000+ book. Blanck 3369; McBride pp 40-42; a Johnson High Spot ("recognized as one of the supreme portrayals of boy character"). Item #14747