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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 14 Nov 2017 08:21:36 -0600
text/plain (218 lines)
Yes, probably me. In my catalogue notes I cite Letters 5:145.n4 which 
confirms that a statement dated 1-12-78 covering the last six months of 
sales indicated that 26,310 scrapbooks had been sold by that time and Twain 
had been paid about $1,000. I don't have the source handy, but I also record 
that his profits eventually topped $12,000. I don't have a date handy for 
that citation, but it's in my notes.

Among my two dozen articles in progress, I have an outline and folder of 
research on the scrapbook, including a mass of advertising data on them, 
catalogues describing the formats, various patent records covering 1873 to 
1902, contemporary reviews, etc. The examples I have show how people did and 
did not use them, and reveal formats not included in Slote's catalogues and 
ads. I also have a lot of material on Dan Slote and his business. Slote 
seems to have given them away to his female friends from time to time. I've 
invested a good deal of time (and a few $$) in my research, but two other 
research projects are more pressing at the moment. I'll eventually get back 
to it and write up a full account. None of the accounts I've read on the 
scrapbook are entirely satisfactory or give full accounts.

I think the multiplier for late 19th century dollars is 25, so Twain perhaps 
made $300,000 in modern dollars from the scrapbook. That does not smell like 
failure to me. They also spread his fame in a positive way for 25 years.

Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at:

-----Original Message----- 
From: Alan Kitty
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 7:06 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Mark Twain Scrapbook

Someone - possibly you Kevin, considering your collection - mentioned that 
rofits were in the neighborhood of $10,000. By itself, the number sounds 
e success. But over 20-30 years, maybe not so much. Is that a verifiable 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Nov 13, 2017, at 9:23 PM, Kevin Mac Donnell 
> <[log in to unmask]
OM> wrote:
> The Mark Twain Scrapbook is nicely written up in a book on scrapbooking 
> th=
> I reviewed in the Forum a few years ago. As claimed in the 
> advertisements,=
> it was a clear improvement over the practice of having to apply your 
> own=20=

> paste. That could get messy. I have over 50 examples--all different 
> cover=20=

> designs and sizes--and this includes some unused ones. The pages do 
> often=20=

> stick together, but this should not comes as a surprise for a book kept 
> ov=
> 100 years in a barn, house, or attic without the benefit of humidity 
> and=20=

> temperature control. I'd get a bit sticky myself, probably within days. 
> Bu=
> I have many more examples whose pages have not stuck together, and the 
> glu=
> is remarkably stable. The glue used in some self-adhesive photo albums 
> of=20=

> the 1970s is notoriously unstable and often reacts very badly and 
> destroys=
> whatever is stuck in the album. Not so with the Mark Twain Scrapbooks.
> The thing was a success and was produced from 1877 to at least 1901 
> (the=20=

> date of the last catalogue I have listing them).
> Kevin
> @
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> 512-345-4139
> Member: ABAA, ILAB
> *************************
> You may browse our books at:
> -----Original Message-----=20
> From: Martin Zehr
> Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:46 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Mark Twain Scrapbook
> Mark Twain scrapbooks are not in the rare category of Twain collectibles,
> as far as I can determine, and Kevin Mac Donnell can attest. They come in 
> a=

> variety of covers and sizes, with the "Mark Twain" trademark prominently
> displayed inside the front cover. They come up on ebay once in awhile and
> I've purchased three over the years, none which were expensive.  They 
> were=

> available from the 1870s into the 20th century.  The examples I have were
> used and are interesting artifacts to peruse, the owners inserting news
> items, bad poetry and personal items.  An unused example would 
> undoubtedly=

> be more expensive, but undoubtedly less interesting.
> Martin Zehr
> <
> Virus-free.
> <
> <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>
>> On Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 3:17 AM, Arianne . <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Thank y ou so much.  One of his scrapbooks plays a large part in
>> my interest in Twain.  I've never checked, but I wonder if any blank
>> ones ever come up for sale.  I imagine plenty of used ones might.  I
>> assume the collection of scrapbooks    held by the Mark Twain Project
>> in Berkeley contain examples of scrapbooks the family created before
>> the patent and some they made after.
>> Arianne Laidlaw
>> On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 11:38 AM, Robert M Ellsworth 
>> <[log in to unmask]>=

>> wrote:
>>> Here is a direct link to the Google Patents page for the 
>>> =3D91Improvemen=
>> =3D
>>> in Scrap-books=3D92 patent, from which you can download a PDF copy if 
>>> th=
>>> =3D
>>> online documentation is too hard to read (as it very often is!)
>>> The idea is rather interesting: he covers the whole page with =3D
>>> water-soluble glue or mucilage, and a user moistens just the area 
>>> where=20=

>>> =3D
>>> something is to go, presumably most easily with a small brush or blot 
>>> of=

>> =3D
>>> paper.  Contemporary ads appear to show something between the treated 
>>> =3D=

>>> gummed pages, perhaps material to which the gum left exposed between 
>>> =3D=

>>> pasted items won=3D92t self-stick in humid locations.  Presumably there 
>>> i=
>> =3D
>>> some care to provide =3D91adhesive=3D92 that will not stick until 
>>> desire=
d, =3D
>>> perhaps dusting with (dyed) cornstarch or similar material to form 
>>> what=20=

>>> =3D
>>> parents with diapered children might know as =3D91a barrier layer=3D92.
>>> The accounts I=3D92ve read say that he made ample profit from this =3D
>>> invention, and my guess is that the name recognition was a large part 
>>> of=

>> =3D
>>> the attractiveness.  Perhaps it would still be, if anyone decided to 
>>> =3D=

>>> =3D93re-introduce=3D94 these with modern materials =3D85 I can think of 
>>> a=
>>> =3D
>>> improvements just looking at the patent drawings.=3D
>> --
>> Arianne Laidlaw A '58