Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1882. First edition. Special printing of the first edition, for private circulation. China paper bound in white linen stamped in gilt. Top edge gilt. A Near Fine copy with slight fraying and some chipping to spine ends and soiling to the boards; internally fresh and bright. Housed in a custom clamshell.
Set in the Tudor palace of Henry VIII, Twain's first attempt at historical fiction used the doppelganger motif to explore what might happen if Prince Edward and a pauper named Tom Canty were switched into each other's lives. Like many of Twain's works, the novel contains incisive political and social critiques about class hierarchy and human kindness. But The Prince and the Pauper is notably the only one of his books for which special author's copies were prepared. Released in an extremely small number, these China paper copies are of very great rarity. BAL notes that "the precise number of copies...printed [on China paper, or India paper as Clemens calls it] is not known. A copy in NYPL is inscribed by the author: "This is one of six copies that were printed on India paper ... (No, there may have been eight) ..." No copy seen at auction for the last 25 years.
BAL 3402*. (Item #4514)