Item #15460 Autograph Letter Signed ("Mark") to "Friend Frank [Bliss]" Mark Twain.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Mark") to "Friend Frank [Bliss]".

Autograph Letter Signed ("Mark") to "Friend Frank [Bliss]".

"Elmira [NY], Apl. 19 [1872]." One side of a sheet of lined paper, with "Saml. Clemens | Elmira | April 19/72" written (by the recipient?) on the verso.

The text of this early letter reads:

What is your _new_ number? I only know 149 Asylum.

Wm. C. Smythe (whose letter I enclose) [not included] is a splendid old friend of mine. He is city editor of the principal Pittsburgh paper -- a city _where I drew the largest audience ever assembled in Pittsburgh to hear a lecture._

Send him a book. I want a _big_ sale in Pittsburgh. _Mark_

Francis Edward Bliss (1843-1915) was the son of Elisha Bliss, who had founded the American Publishing Company in Hartford; "Frank" left a banking career to join his father's company in the 1860s, and was soon Treasurer. In 1867 Elisha had gotten in touch with fledgling newspaper journalist "Mark Twain," and by the time of this April 1872 letter, APC had published Twain's THE INNOCENTS ABROAD (1869), and (in February 1872) ROUGHING IT; it would soon publish THE GILDED AGE (1873) and then THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1876). Elisha died in 1880, leaving the company in the hands of Frank and his brother Walter.

By 1880 MT thought he had had enough of [Frank] Bliss, who turned out to be as good at misleading his authors as he was at misleading the public. The established Boston firm of Osgood & Company brought out two MT books -- The Prince and the Pauper and Life on the Mississippi -- but by 1884 MT had founded his own publishing house: Webster & Co. Its first book was Huck Finn [UVa].

This letter shows that even as early as 1872, Twain's swagger was evident -- underlining his entire boast (exaggeration?) of the crowd he had recently drawn in Pittsburgh (his "Roughing It" lecture, at Library Hall on January 12, 1872), and ordering his publisher to "send him a book" because "I want a big sale."

The letter is in very good condition, with horizontal folds from original mailing and a vertical fold (one short split) from Bliss's filing; there are also a few pinholes probably due to Bliss's filing process. Provenance: though not so identified, this letter came from the renowned Fred Bentley Sr. collection of Mark Twain. Item #15460

Price: $3,750.00

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