Most Americans are familiar with writer Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) better known as Mark Twain. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn introduced countless children to the world of classic literature. What many do not know is that Clemens also held three patents for inventions – suspenders in 1871, Mark Twain’s Self-Pasting Scrapbook in 1873 and an educational game in 1885. Hartford residents, however, take great pride in the knowledge that longtime resident Samuel Clemens patented his self-pasting scrapbook while there in Hartford and that his Tom Sawyer was the country’s first typewritten manuscript.
The U.C. Berkeley Museum of Art, Science & Culture hosted an exhibition of Mark Twain artifacts and documents in January 1995,allowing a larger and more diverse public to view the sampling of manuscripts and artifacts than usual. Included on display were examples of Mark Twain’s inventions and patents, with numerous photographs and drawings, which introduce aficionados to a little known side of Samuel Clemens.
Several newly acquired documents, not all of them written by Mark Twain, also give insight into the passions that drove the man – his successes and failures. Letters written by Twain in the latter part of his life extol the experiences of his attempts to create and market what seemed, to him, to be infallible ideas.