by Barbara Schmidt

A History of and Guide to

American Publishing Company's
Edition De Luxe and Japan Editions (1899)

The American Publishing Company's Edition De Luxe and Japan Editions were an unsigned format of the 1899 Autograph Edition. The Edition De Luxe was available in both cloth and leather bindings and every volume hand numbered. In a letter from Clemens to Frank Bliss on 31 March 1899 Clemens wrote, "I want set No 1 of the de luxe edition to go to Mr. Rogers, and to be charged to me (minus agent's commission)" (Leary, p. 294). If Henry Rogers received set number 1 of the Edition De Luxe, it has not yet been located.

The main difference between the Edition De Luxe and the Japan Edition is the Japan Edition was bound in silk cloth and that appears to explain the name. According to the limitation statements found in each volume, each edition was limited to 1,000 sets. However, a letter written by George Gilman, representing American Publishing Company, to John Larkin, a Harper attorney, dated 13 October 1903 describes the production numbers of the Edition "De Luxe and Japan Editions combined 1000 sets." Larkin's letter contradicts the limitations statement which appears in each edition implying each edition was limited to 1,000 sets. The exact numbers of each set is unknown but the combined total of both editions is probably about 1000 sets

Edition De Luxe spine
Photo of the Edition De Luxe leather binding is courtesy of the Mark Twain Project, Univ. of California at Berkeley

Flyleaf for De Luxe Edition reversed the wording as it appeared in the limitation statement calling it the Edition De Luxe

De Luxe limitation statement
Edition De Luxe limitation statement with the MARK TWAIN watermark. This statement appeared in every volume of the back of the flyleaf. It was Clemens's intent that Henry Rogers have set No. 1. The present location of Rogers's set is unknown.

De Luxe cloth binding
Edition De Luxe cloth binding with paper label on the spine

Japan Edition flyleaf appears in every volume of this edition

Japan Limitation statement
Japan Edition limitation statement appears in every volume on the back of the flyleaf.

Japan Edition in silk binding with cloth label on the spine

Special paper with the MARK TWAIN watermark is a unique and distinguishing characteristic of the first 23 volumes of the Edition De Luxe and Japan Editions.
MARK TWAIN watermark

Tiffany monogram
Title page designed by Tiffany

A special title page monogram designed by Tiffany and Company and engraved by W. H. W. Bicknell is a distinguishing characteristic of the Autograph Edition, Author's De Luxe Edition, Edition De Luxe, Japan Edition, and Royal Edition. This page appears in each volume of these sets. It features an SLC monogram surrounded by scenes from Mark Twain's life including a boat, stagecoach, train, and his home in Hartford, Connecticut. The lower left corner features a cabin depicting his humble birthplace in Florida, Missouri.

Less expensive editions such as Underwood, Riverdale, and Hillcrest feature the Tiffany title page in Volume 1 only. It was eliminated altogether from the Author's National Edition.

The original printing plate of this engraving is in the Kevin Mac Donnell collection.

The subscription price for the Edition De Luxe and the Japan Edition was $110 -- the equivalent of about $2700 in the year 2007. Both editions were affordable to only the upper income tiers of American society. In 1903 American Publishing Company added Volume 23 to the set. The following advertisement appeared in the New York Daily Tribune, February 2, 1905 when the editions were being featured at clearance prices of $39.50 via direct newspaper marketing and not door-to-door subscription sales.

Ad from New York Daily Tribune, February 2, 1905, p. 13.

Evidence indicates that neither the Edition De Luxe or the Japan Edition alone approached 1,000 sets and that the combined numbers of both editions was 1,000.


Summary of Features of Edition De Luxe and Japan Edition



Johnson, Merle. A Bibliography of the Works of Mark Twain. (Harper and Brothers, 1935).

Gilman, George H. to John Larkin, 13 October 1903, reel #50 Archives of Harper and Brothers, 1817 - 1914.

Leary, Lewis, ed. Mark Twain's Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers 1893-1909. (University of California Press, 1969).

Mark Twain Project. Online database of letters and textual commentary at: http://www.marktwainproject.org

Rodney, Robert M. Mark Twain International. (Greenwood Press, 1982).


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