New York: C. H. Webb, 1867. First edition. First edition of author’s first published book, first issue (single ad leaf on cream-yellow paper inserted before title; p. 66, last line, "life" unbroken; p. 198, "i" in "this" unbroken). [1, blank] [1, publisher’s ad] 198 pp. Twelvemo (170 x 112 mm). Original purple gilt-lettered cloth, gilt jumping frog in diagonal position on lower left corner of upper cover, blindstamped jumping frog in same position on lower cover. Beveled edges. Spine lettered in gilt. Brown coated endpapers. Mild wear and light repair to cloth at corners and spine extremities. Inner hinges repaired. Some mild staining to initial blank. Previous owner’s name and address in pencil on front free endpaper. Neat ink stamp on front blank, and ink signature on title-page. A bright, very good copy which shows very well. Housed in a quarter brown morocco slipcase.
Mark Twain, with his account of the jumping frog, produced the most famous tale in California, if not Western, history. This little gem of humor that introduced the famed author’s first book gave him international prominence. As his publisher, Charles Henry Webb, noted, "By his story of the Frog, he scaled the heights of popularity at a single jump." Twain’s compilation of tales, along with those of Bret Harte, continues to romanticize and popularize the Gold Rush. The story of the lead-loaded frog (named Daniel Webster) made Angels Camp one of the best-known tourist attractions in the gold country. Twain first learned of the story of the jumping frog when he prospected in the vicinity of Jackass Hill in Tuolumne County. On a rainy January day in 1865 Twain and a friend, James Gillis, went into the bar at the Angels Camp Hotel in nearby Calaveras County and heard a gentlemen by the name of Ben Coon tell the amusing story of the trained frog. He repeated the story to Artemus Ward, who in turn encouraged him to write it up and send it to Ward’s publisher, Carleton, in New York: C. H. Webb, 1867. The tale’s popularity spread across America and Europe until it was collected in the present volume.
Huntington Library, Zamorano 80. Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 17. Johnson, Twain, pp. 3-9. LC. Very Good. Very Good (Item #2021)