Think bibliography is too stuffy? There are plenty of scandalous tales in the history of printing. One of the most infamous is the story of the Uncle Silas plate in the first edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Twain expected Huck to be a major hit, and the huge number of advance orders strengthened his opinion. To prepare for demand, the first printing alone contained 30,000 copies. In order to print that many copies so quickly, Twain’s printer had 50 pressmen working on the project, who produced 690,000 sheets in three months.
It is because there were so many pressmen who had access to the printing plates that the perpetrator was never caught, despite a $500 reward.
Like Tom Sawyer, Twain’s previous book about boys, this work contained a great number of illustrations. One of those illustrations is an engraved plate that depicts Huck…
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