Clemens, Samuel L. (Mark Twain)


1900 personal check of one of America’s best-known writers and humorists

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Condition: Very good, center cut cancellation, mounted at left and right sides; tiny piece missing at lower left side, small spindle hole at left side.

Description:  (1835-1910) American writer, humorist, publisher and lecturer, his novels include “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (1876) and its sequel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884), both set in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. He was apprenticed to a printer and worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to his older brother Orion’s newspaper. He later became a Mississippi River riverboat pilot before heading west to join Orion in Nevada, where Orion was Nevada Territory Secretary. His life there was described in his book “Roughing It.” Piloting also gave him his pen name from “mark twain”, the leadsman’s cry for a measured river depth of 2 fathoms (12’), safe water for a steamboat. He was a journalist Virginia City’s “Territorial Enterprise”. He first used his pen name there on Feb. 3, 1863, when he wrote a humorous travel account and signed it “Mark Twain”. His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865) brought international attention, even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he correctly predicted that he would “go out with it” as well, dying the day after the comet made its closest approach to the Earth.

In 1867, a local newspaper funded his trip to Europe and the Middle East and he wrote a collection of travel letters later compiled as “The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrims’ Progress” (1869). He married Olivia Langdon in 1870 and through her, met Harriet Beecher Stowe (his next-door neighbor in Hartford, Conn.), Frederick Douglass, and William Dean Howells, a long-time friend. Twain moved to Hartford, then to Elmira, New York. He wrote many of his classic novels during his 17 years in Hartford (1874–1891) and 20+ summers at Elmira, including “The Prince and the Pauper”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Life on the Mississippi” (1883), “Huckleberry Finn (1884), and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1889). He wrote “Pudd’nhead Wilson” in 1894.

Twain lost money through his publishing house, Charles L. Webster and Co., which enjoyed initial success selling U. S. Grant’s memoirs. Twain and family moved to Europe in 1891, mainly in France, Germany, and Italy until May 1895. His writings and lectures enabled him to recover financially and he embarked on a year-long, around the world lecture tour in July 1895 to fully pay off his creditors. His 3 months in India became the centerpiece of his 712-page book “Following the Equator”; in the 2nd half of July 1896, he sailed back to England, completing his circumnavigation of the world begun 14 months before. He and his family spent 4 more years in Europe, mainly in England and Austria, and returned to the US in October 1900. Twain was in great demand as a featured speaker, performing solo humorous talks similar to modern stand-up comedy. Twain lived in his later years in Manhattan.

Twain was sharply critical of US and other countries’ imperialism, was an adamant supporter of abolition of slavery, emancipation of slaves, women’s rights and women’s suffrage, supported the labor movement and was critical of organized religion.

Neatly mounted partly-printed DS S. L. Clemens, completed in Clemens’ hand, 3 x 6 ½ orange Bank of the Metropolis check #48 with imprinted federal documentary stamp at center, New York City, December 17 1900, paying $10 to “Mr. Youmans”. Bank address 29 Union Square printed vertically at left side. Clemens published “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” in 1900. With unsigned portrait.

Type: Signed Check

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