“A Masterpiece of Wonder and Marvel!”

“A Masterpiece of Wonder and Marvel!”

Verne, Jules.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas [salesman's dummy].  Boston: Geo. M. Smith & Co., 1873.

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Only one other complete copy is known of this salesman's dummy of the classic tale of Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus.  Originally published in France in parts in 1869 and 1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues was first published in America by James R. Osgood but only a small number of copies of that edition survive. George M. Smith took over the American publication with a much larger print run and a similar binding, which is the edition this salesman’s dummy advertised. Inside the decorative gilt binding are a large selection of plates along with fragments of the text (pictures always sell better than words), followed by a two page prospectus and 25 lined leaves ready for subscribers’ names.  The prospectus described the book as “A Masterpiece of Wonder and Marvel!,” pointing out that one hundred years ago “the book could not have been written.  The scientific achievements of the nineteenth century have alone rendered it possible.”  Interestingly, this copy has a gift inscription -- “Addie L. Carter north scituate mass from a friend May 9th 1874” -- which begs the question: what kind of friend gives a book with only part of the text?

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