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Add to My Citations To Elisha Bliss, Jr.
7 May 1870 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00462)
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j. langdon, miner & dealer in anthracite &

bituminous coalem spaceem spaceoffice no. 6 baldwin street

elmira, n.y. May 7 186 70

Private.

Friend Bliss—

I have just been stricken with an idea, in the shape of a scheme to secure a wide-spread advertisement. Whenever our sales reach 100,000,—no matter when that may be—you have tho or the Directors call me to Hartford to an oyster supper in celebration of the event—the city Hartford editors to be present1—& I will either come there & make a speech that will travel well in the papers, or I will send one to be read there that will travel. Of course, if you speak of this, If you can think of something simpler & just as effectual, let’s have it—for suppers are sometimes a nuisance, & besides, the object of this one might be too glaringly apparent. [Set ] your invention to work.

I calcu

I sent you dispatch yesterday to acknowledge rec’pt of your check for $3,914.62, & also to express my eminent satisfaction at the way the book is selling.2

Mr. Langdon has been dangerously ill for some days, & it is plain that he cannot travel a mile this year. So we shall not move out of reach of sudden call. That closes out all notion of crossing the ocean—though we expect to go [ th to ]the Adirondacks with the Twichells.

Yrs Ever

Mark.

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[letter docketed:] Mark Twain ǀ May 7/70 [and in pencil:] July 20/69 393 copies rec’d from bindery3

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 At this time the directors of the American Publishing Company, all Hartford residents, were: E. G. Hastings, also the firm’s president, a dealer in shirts; Thomas Belknap, an independent publisher; Sidney Drake, the former president, a bookbinder; George S. Gilman, an attorney; George F. Hills, cashier at the State Bank; Henry J. Johnson, a provisions merchant; and James S. Tryon, cashier at the First National Bank. Elisha Bliss, presently the secretary of the firm and by July 1870 its president, was at all times its chief executive officer. His twenty-six-year-old son Francis (Frank) was the treasurer. The principal Hartford newspaper editors were: Joseph R. Hawley and Charles Dudley Warner, of the Courant; L. R. Riggs and H. H. Barbour, of the News; Isaac H. Bromley and Joseph L. Barbour, of the Post; and Warren H. and Willie O. Burr, of the Times (Geer: 1869, 50, 62, 69, 107, 129, 144, 150, 162, 198, 264, 423, 495; 1870, 46, 64, 72, 507; Elisha Bliss to SLC, 2 May 70, CU-MARK; “Hartford Residents,” Bliss Family, 1; L3, 97 n. 5; Rowell, 624).

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2 On 2 May Bliss had written to Clemens at Elmira, as instructed (CU-MARK):
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Bliss enclosed a statement, dated 1 May, of third quarter (1 Feb–30 Apr) sales of The Innocents Abroad. Clemens’s royalty on 21,378 copies came to $3,925.90, from which Bliss deducted $11.25 for “7 books shipped to parties by order caret& express chgscaret.” Innocents had sold a total of 60,378 copies, with total royalties amounting to about $11,300 (22 Jan 70 to Bliss, n. 6; 28 Jan 70 to Bliss, n. 5). Once Clemens realized that sales would not “reach 100,000” for some time, he modified his “oyster supper” scheme (30 May 70, 18 July 70, 21? Sept 70, all to Bliss).

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3According to American Publishing Company records, the first 403 copies of The Innocents Abroad were received from the bindery on 20 July 1869, about ten days before the book was officially issued (APC, 45; L3, 287 n. 1). This penciled notation indicates that ten of those copies were not counted in sales, possibly because they were defective, or set aside for promotional use. The appearance of the notation here suggests that Bliss had risen to Clemens’s challenge to “set your invention to work” and, with some new promotional scheme in mind, had instructed an employee to document the receipt of first copies. By June he had devised a “tip-top” advertising circular (27 June 70 to Bliss).



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 126–28; MTLP, 34–35.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphSee Mendoza Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


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