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Lot #583
Samuel L. Clemens Signed Photograph as "Mark Twain" (1905)

Superb signed "Mark Twain" portrait photo

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Estimate: $2000+
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Superb signed "Mark Twain" portrait photo

Attractive vintage 4.75 x 8.25 photographic print of ‘Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ in a handsome half-length pose by Joseph G. Gessford, circa 1904, signed neatly in the lower border in fountain pen, “Truly yours, Mark Twain, Apl. /05.” Double-matted and framed to an overall size of 12.5 x 16.25. Includes a transmittal ALS from Clemens’s secretary Isabel Lyon, dated January 17, 1905, which reads: “The portrait of Mr. Clemens has been received, but has not been given to Mr. Clemens for he has been ill for more than a month. In a few days it will be given to him to sign.” In fine condition. Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA.

In 1902, Clemens hired Lyon as a secretary because his wife, Olivia, was becoming too ill to handle his correspondence. After Olivia's death in 1904, Lyon moved into Clemens’s house and assisted him with his autobiography, eventually assuming tasks like disbursing allowances to his daughters, Clara and Jean, and supervising the construction of Stormfield, Twain's estate in Redding, Connecticut. Especially fond of Lyon and her care, Clemens purchased her a house, called The Lobster Pot, near Stormfield to keep her close by. Twain's trust in Lyon caused him to grant her a power of attorney in 1907.

In March 1909, after Lyon married Ralph Ashcroft, a business associate of Clemens, the latter began to suspect Lyon of using her position to help herself to his money, particularly for remodeling her house. He also alleged that Lyon was scheming to marry him. Twain fired Lyon in April and forced her to return the The Lobster Pot property. Bitter over the situation, Clemens denounced Lyon as ‘a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded & salacious slut pining for seduction.’ He wrote a 429-page manuscript outlining his complaints against Lyon and Ashcroft, with the intent of publishing it if Lyon were to go public with her side of the story.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring John F. Kennedy
  • Dates: #692 - Ended May 15, 2024

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