Scarce Mark Twain Book Fetched Over $4,000 at National Book Auctions

A very scarce, privately printed work by Mark Twain fetched over $4,000 at National Book Auctions's February 4, 2017 sale. Only four other copies of this volume have sold at auction over the last four decades.

The volume was number five of one hundred copies of Twain's "1601" published by the Derrydale Press in New York in 1926. Bearing the long-winded subtitle "Being a Fireside Conversation in ye Tyme of ye Goode Queene Bess in Which Divers Persons of Reknown Hold Converse on Concerns Personal and Intimate," this satirical squib purported to be an extract from the diary from one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting. Due to its scatological and sexual content, "1601" was considered unprintable by mainstream publishers prior to the 1960s and was circulated clandestinely in privately printed limited editions such as this.

The sale, held at the auction house's Freeville, New York saleroom and simulcast via Invaluable, also featured a sizeable private library of decorative antique leather bindings; sets of note included "Naturalis Historiae Libri XXXVII" by Pliny the Elder (1685), "The Posthumous Works of Frederic II King of Prussia" translated by Thomas Holcroft (1789), and "Novels of George Eliot" collected by William Blackwood (c. 1890). Other lots included antique billheads, magazine compilations, and books and correspondence from the estate of a colleague and purported muse and mistress of "Lolita" author Vladimir Nabokov.

National Book Auctions is a specialist auction house focusing almost exclusively on rare and collectible books and ephemera since the 1990s. Its sister company, Worth Auctions, handles a broad variety of personal property including fine and decorative art, furnishings, jewelry, coins, antique arms and armor, and more. For more information, contact mail@nationalbookauctions.com or mail@worthauctions.com.

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