Where did French & Richardson’s Booksellers get “The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain” from?

Charles Henry Webb (John Paul)

Charles Henry Webb (John Paul)

Trying to unravel clues of the who, what, where, and why Mark Twain’s “The Jumping Frog” was sold in at least one city bookstore while he was a capital correspondent.

During Clemens (Twain) stay in Washington he sent Charles Henry Webb 3 known letters. The first letter from November 1867 discusses a play they were collaborating on, the letter below from 10 January 1868 and the last was dated 15 January 1868. According to a small item in the Evening Star, 31 Jan 1868, Clemens and Webb were hanging tough around the US Capitol.
I suspect Webb brought copies of The Jumping Frog” with him when he came to Washington. How many could he have brought?
To Charles Henry Webb 
10 January 1868 • Washington, D.C.
(Transcripts: AAA 1927, lot 109; Parke-Bernet Galleries 1940,
lot 188, UCCL 00178)

Washington, [Jan. 9]

. . . .

[Please send me 3 ]copies of [the Jumping ]Frog—I never got but 6 of the lot you gave [me ]an order [for][I lost the order. Send them (the 3) through the mail. ]It is 2[A.M.]—I will to bed.1

[Yr. Friend

Saml. Clemens.]

bootleg version

bootleg version

Where did these 3 books end up?

According to the second explanatory note for SLC to Charles Henry Webb, 15 Jan 1868, “The ‘books’ were three copies of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County which Clemens had requested (10 Jan 68 to Webb). Clemens sent one of the copies to Charles Langdon, who inscribed it “C. J. Langdon, Elmira, New York, Feby. 5th, 1868.” Another was probably sent to Mrs. Fairbanks, and others had already been promised to Henry Ward Beecher and to Emma Beach’s mother, both of whom Clemens saw in Brooklyn before the month was out (Parke-Bernet Galleries 1941, lot 90;20 Feb 68 to Fairbanks8 Jan 68 to Beach).

Was French & Richardson’s selling bootleg versions of “The Jumping Frog” that had been printed in England? Hope to make some sort of determination here.

For quick reading: Mark Twain and The Jumping Frog [Humor in America blog]


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