London: Chatto & Windus, 1882. 32 pp ads dated May 1882. Original red cloth pictorially decorated in black.
First Edition of this collection of tales, which preceded the American edition by about a week (Blanck) or by four days (Johnson). The title tale is Mark Twain's jab at detectives, both in the real world and emerging in the literary world: a white elephant, gift from the King of Siam to the Queen of England, is stolen in (of all places) Jersey City, where the British agent transporting it had stopped to give it a break from travel. Detectives were clearly, and humorously, unprepared for this eventuality.
This copy has the ads in the first state -- May 1882 (as opposed to July or October; the book was actually published on June 8th). According to Johnson (but curiously not noted by Blanck), this book appears in two states: this earlier state has a half-title verso list of books that does NOT include this title, and it has a printer's imprint both on the title verso and on p. 285; we have had a copy with July ads where this title IS included on the half-title list, and there are no printer imprints.
This book typically has two condition problems: faded spine and loose gatherings (because 1882 was in the middle of the ill-conceived British experiment in binding books with staples rather than with string). This copy has scarcely any fading of the spine, and there is zero loosening of the leaves (though one can see some occasional staple rust, as usual). There is no foxing on the leaves, and the original patterned endpapers are clean and intact. In all, a very collectible copy, with bright gilt and with essentially no external wear or soil. Blanck 3403; Johnson p. 39. Provenance: armorial bookplate of estate agent, antiquary and book collector George Oakley Fisher (1859-1933), of Sudbury on the River Stour. Item #14986