Hard Cover. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1890. Near Fine.
Later edition. Illustrated by True Williams. Publisher's decorative blue Eastlake Style binding, with stylized decorations in black, four stars to the front board in gilt, lettered in gilt, pale peach coated endpapers. A very attractive copy with some dulling and toning to the spine, spine ends and corners lightly worn, bookplate removal to front pastedown and a former owner signature from 1890 to front endpaper. A very bright, early example of Twain's great 1876 novel. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic novel that features the episodic adventures of Tom Sawyer, a mischievous young boy from Missouri. Considered the archetypal "All-American boy," Tom is essentially a pure-hearted rascal whose troublemaking antics liven his small rural town and its inhabitants. Other characters include Tom's stern Aunt Polly, his half-brother Sid, and his sweetheart Becky Thatcher. The novel is set in the antebellum South and the dialog of the text features local dialects drawn from Twain's experiences living in the South. Interestingly, while it may primarily be regarded as a children's book, Twain explains in his preface that he hoped Tom Sawyer would be appreciated by a wider audience: "Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in." Notably, Tom Sawyer introduces Tom's friend Huckleberry Finn, the disenfranchised youth who later stars as the protagonist in the companion novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn make further appearances in Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896). The "Eastlake Style" takes its name from British designer, architect, and author Charles Locke Eastlake (1836-1906). Although he never formally practiced architecture, Eastlake was a major influence and an early voice in the Arts and Crafts Movement, best known for his book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and Other Details (first published in London in 1868 and in Boston in 1872). In this formative text, Eastlake criticized the popular preference of poorly-made products of the Industrial Revolution and instead encouraged a revival of craftsmanship and simplistic Gothic beauty. Hints on Household Taste was an immediate success, and many furniture designers and bookmakers began to utilize this aesthetic during the 1870s in what became known as the "Eastlake Style." In bookbinding, the Eastlake Style was hallmarked by the use of black stamping, abstract geometric patterns, and thin lines decorated with stylized leaves (as well as other stylized natural forms). Many bookbinders and publishers adopted the trendy Eastlake Style, but each interpreted the aesthetic differently; accordingly, there are many variations of the Eastlake Style binding, and some are only loosely based on Charles Eastlake's actual design aesthetic.