Posted by: houwr | 11/09/2011

What One Man Considers Trash. . .

This past week at the Nola Brantley Memorial Library, our staff worked through a large stack of old, worn, and even falling apart books that had been residing on our shelves for years.  These items had not circulated for some time, so it had become necessary to discard them from the library and send them over for the annual Friends Of The Library book sale. Since the discard process requires staff to flip through the first few pages in each book, it can at times be surprising what they may find.  In fact, this week’s discard pile included something that surprised us all:

This short, handwritten blurb includes what appears to be authentic writing and the actual signature of Mark Twain himself.  This was found in a very old copy of The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and did not appear to be part of any book setBut the question is: is it old enough? The book cites a publishing date of 1917, but after doing a bit of research, I found that Mr. Samuel L. Clemens – better known by his pseudonym Mark Twain – actually died in 1910.  However, this fact alone is not enough to discredit what may be a very rare find indeed.  It is possible that this book was not first published until 7 years after Twain’s death, or it could be one of a few post-death copies.  To clear up such questions, we have decided to send the book off for analysis to verify its authenticity. We are currently awaiting results. . .


What about you – do you think this may in fact be the real thing? On a related note, have you ever found a “diamond in the rough” within an old book?



  1. Did you ever find out if this signature was authentic? WE HAVE AN EXACT DUPLICATE in a book copyrighted from the late 1800s that is entitled, Tom Sawyer ABROAD, Tom Sawyer – Detective

    • Allen, thanks for your inquiry. We sent this book off to a Friends of the Library member who investigates special works, and she found that it was in fact not the real thing. It was published after his death, which made the authenticity highly unlikely, but we wanted to cover our bases. I’m assuming this is also the case with your Tom Sawyer work.

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