Oct 28 at 12:00 PM - Sale 2584 -

Sale 2584 - Lot 120

Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
RECEIPT FOR PAYMENT OF THE MARK TWAIN PUBLIC LIBRARY TAX TWAIN, MARK. Printed circular letter Signed and Inscribed, "Received of Mr. Paul Thompson. $1," to photographer Paul Thompson ("To My Guests"), imposing a one dollar "tax" on the recipient in order to raise money for the Mark Twain Library. 1 page, 4to; faint scattered foxing, few minor ink stains from inscription offsetting, folds. Redding, CT, 7 October 1908

Additional Details

". . . My fellow farmers of this vicinity have gathered together some hundreds of books and instituted a public library and given it my name. . . . There is yet one detail lacking: a building for the library. . . . The library building will cost about two thousand dollars. Everybody will have a chance to contribute to this fund. Everybody, including my guests . . . . It seems best to use coercion in this case. Therefore I have levied a tax--a GUESTS' MARK TWAIN LIBRARY BUILDING TAX, of one dollar . . . . I desire that the money be paid to me, personally: this is the safest way. If it were paid to my secretary a record would have to be made of it, and the record could get lost. . . ."
In the fall of 1908, soon after moving to Redding, CT, Twain formed with his new neighbors the Mark Twain Library Association, intending to build a public library for the community. He received donations of land and books, but required money to build the physical structure to house the books. Although he humorously imposed a one dollar tax upon his visitors for the purpose, the money was not raised until the tragic death in 1909 of Twain's daughter, Jean, likely from an epileptic seizure. The money raised from the sale of the farmhouse in which Jean lived funded the construction of the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building, which still stands today as part of the library in Redding that bears Twain's name.
Paul Thompson (1878-1940) was an editor at various CT newspapers before beginning a career as a newspaper photographer when his popular photographs of Mark Twain were published, first accompanying a biographical article he wrote entitled, "Men of Note: Samuel Longhorne Clemens," in the February 1906 issue of Burr McIntosh Monthly, then as part of his article, "A Day with Mark Twain," in the March 1909 issue of the same journal.