Book Illustrations, Page 2

German Huck Finn title page steamboat landing Horst Lemke EXP

Charmin' double title page illustration by Horst Lemke for a 1964 German edition of Mark Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN.


Pen and Ink with Sepia Wash by WATTS based on illustrations from LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

Attached scan of Sketches based on the illustrations in the 1st Edition [1883] of the non-fiction book Life on the Mississippi by Sam Clemens (Mark Twain). The original pen and ink with sepia wash measures 10 x 24 inches on illustration board and signed by "WATTS."

Watts also referred to illustrations from the first editions for the character poses of Tom, Huck, Becky, Aunt Polly and Jim in the other 4 paintings in the "set" which depict scenes from these stories by Clemens: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.


Steamboat illustration from unknown history book

Attached page from an unknown, undated and uncredited simplified U.S. history book, presumably written for "young readers."

On the back of this page featuring an illustration of a steamboat probably arriving at New Orleans with onlookers on the wharf in the foreground is text about "The First Americans" (Indians/Native Americans) and mention of "Custer's Last Stand."

The page came all the way from Australia but the eBay dealer did not mention the title of the book and it's possible it was published for young students of history in a country other than the United States.

From the style of the artwork this painting could have dated anywhere from the late 1940's to the mid 1960's.

The pilot house on the texas deck between the 'stacks is elongated which is "off model" since they typical pilot house would have been more "cube shaped"—square in proportion on both sides & front & back. Also the pilot house and texas appear to be unpainted wood rather than painted white which was the traditional motif.

The "spandrels" between the stacks are a bit heavy and would have been more delicate and lightweight in design.

Danish illustratipons by Ib Spang Olsen for Livet på Mississippi NEW for NORI


Examples of Danish illustrator Ib Spang Olsen's [1921 - 2012] carefully-researched illustrations for an edition published in Denmark entitled "Livet på Mississippi" (a translation of Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi") which was first published by Centrum in 1979.

On the left is Captain Leather's steamer Natchez about to make a landing. Upper right is a boy sitting on a capstan, below him be a drawing apparently based on a photo of the sternwheel of a later-day towboat.

Olsen's rough & ready style is humorous & whimsical, well suited to Sam Clemens' stories of the time he spent on steamboats.

recent acquisitions

Photo of Captain Cooley's cotton packet AMERICA was the inspiration for one of artist John Rose's illustrations in a 1982 edition of Mark Twain's ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Looks like the crew of roustabouts were carrying sacks of grain up the "stage" to the deck of the AMERICA. The Mississippi looks like pink lemonade . . . such a rosy shade. Handling of sky and smoke is nice.

recent acquisitions

An illustration of Captain Sellers' grave from Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI and a photograph of it taken during the 1930's.

Clemens claimed to have "stolen" the pen name "Mark Twain" from Captain Sellers but no surviving newspapers published in St. Louis or New Orleans during Sellers' lifetime have articles on "River News" that were signed "Mark Twain." Why Clemens would accuse himself of purloining another man's nom de plume if it wasn't true is puzzling although he was prone to invent things in his "non-fiction" and autobiographies to make what he must have assumed "made a better story."

Below are the first and last paragraphs from Chapter 50 of Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, {1883}. The paragraphs in-between the ones below include more about Sellers' life and Clemens' supposed "borrowing" of the pen name "Mark Twain" from the veteran riverman.
"We had some talk about Captain Isaiah Sellers {1802 - 1864}, now many years dead. He was a fine man, a high-minded man, and greatly respected both ashore and on the river. He was very tall, well built, and handsome; and in his old age-- as I remember him--his hair was as black as an Indian's, and his eye and hand were as strong and steady and his nerve and judgment as firm and clear as anybody's, young or old, among the fraternity of pilots. He was the patriarch of the craft; he had been a keelboat pilot before the day of steamboats; and a steamboat pilot before any other steamboat pilot, still surviving at the time I speak of, had ever turned a wheel. Consequently his brethren held him in the sort of awe in which illustrious survivors of a bygone age are always held by their associates. He knew how he was regarded, and perhaps this fact added some trifle of stiffening to his natural dignity, which had been sufficiently stiff in its original state.

. . . The captain had an honorable pride in his profession and an abiding love for it. He ordered his monument before he died, and kept it near him until he did die. It stands over his grave now, in Bellefontaine cemetery, St. Louis. It is his image, in marble, standing on duty at the pilot wheel; and worthy to stand and confront criticism, for it represents a man who in life would have stayed there till he burned to a cinder, if duty required it."

Sideny Riesenberg illustration of Mark Twain
Sidney Riesenberg's illustration of "Mark Twain the riverboat pilot" where you'll see red spots before your eyes on his green shirt. Nice stripe'd awning up front which I haven't seen on a pilot house elsewhere. Cleanest "spittoon" you've ever seen there too.

This eye popper was painted for:

by Joseph Lewis French
Published by Milton Bradley, 1929

All together nineteen American "pioneers" were given the juvenile biography treatment including Lewis and Clark, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, John C. Fremont, Charles Lindbergh, and 12 others.

German Life on the Mississippi Klaus Ensikat steamboats dot com 80 percent for NORI

One of Klaus Ensikat's illustrations for Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. (With name of this website added!)


Detail from the fly leaf color illustration of Fred Way's BETSY ANN painted in a combination watercolor and opaque technique by British artist John Worsley for a 1984 Exeter Books abridged addition of Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER. We have another illustration by Worsley of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at a steamboat landing, along with the 1853 daguerreotype of the St. Louis levee that the artist used as reference.


George Washington Cable was a prominent Louisiana writer who wrote fact and fiction about New Orleans and all classes of Southern society, most notably the Creoles. Cable and Mark Twain went on a lecture tour together in the U.S. together during late 1884 and 1885.

Cable's 1914 Mississippi steamboat novel GIDEON's BAND was illustrated by Frederick C. Yohn who illustrated other steamboat stories in periodicals and many paintings of scenes of the American Revolution including, his best known work was of Washington at Valley Forge.

Attached one of Yohn's beautiful illustrations for Cable's novel, this one set on the upper deck of the fictional steamboat "Votaress" with pilot house, starboard 'scape pipe, paddle box, "Texas" cabin and a part of the lower portion of the starboard smokestack. The colorful costumes of the six characters accurately evoke the flavor of that antebellum Southern world.

Below is text that I abridged from the first two chapters of the novel.

A Tale of the Mississippi
by George Washington Cable (1844-1925)
[Frederick Coffay Yohn] (1875 - 1933), NEW YORK



Saturday, April, 1852.

New Orleans, Louisiana . . . the Mississippi River

. . . this great sun-swept, wind-swept, rain-swept, unswept steamboat levee.

. . . along that mile-wide front . . . there were a hundred river steamers . . . you would behold with one sweep of the eye.

. . . letting themselves be unloaded and reloaded, stood the compacted, motionless, elephantine phalanx of the boats.

. . . their low, light-draught hulls, with the freight decks that covered them doubled in carrying room by their widely overhanging freight guards, were hid by the wilderness of goods on shore.

Hid also were their furnaces, boilers, and engines on the same deck, sharing it with the cargo.

But all their gay upper works, so toplofty and frail, showed a gleaming white front to the western sun.

You marked each one's jack-staff, that rose mast high from the unseen prow, and behind it the boiler deck, high over the boilers.

Over the boiler deck was the hurricane roof, above that the officers' rooms, called the "texas."

Above the texas was the pilot-house, and on either side, well forward of the pilot-house and towering abreast of each other and above all else—higher than the two soaring derrick posts at the two forward corners of the passenger and hurricane decks, higher even than the jack-staff's peak—stood the two great black chimneys.

. . . More than half the boats, this April afternoon, flew from the jack-staff of each, to signify that it was her day to leave, a streaming burgee bearing her name.

A big-lettered strip of canvas drawn along the front guards of her hurricane-deck told for what port she was "up," and the growing smoke that swelled from her chimneys showed that five was her time to back out.

In the midst of the scene . . . lay a boat which specially belongs to this narrative.

A pictorial poster, down in every café and hotel rotunda of the town, called her "large, new, and elegant," and such she was in fair comparison with all the craft on all the sixteen thousand navigable miles of the vast river and its tributaries.

Her goal was Louisville, more than thirteen hundred miles away. Her steam was up, a velvet-black pitch-pine smoke billowed from her chimneys, and her red-and-white burgee, gleaming upon it, named her the Votaress.



Her first up-river trip!

The crowd waiting on the wharf's apron to see her go was larger and included better types of the people than usual, for the Votaress was the latest of the Courteney fleet, hence a rival of the Hayle boats, the most interesting fact that could be stated of anything afloat on Western waters.

So young was she, this Votaress, so bridally fresh from her Indiana and Kentucky shipyards, that the big new bell in the mid-front of her hurricane roof shone in the low sunlight like a wedding jewel.

Its parting strokes had sounded once but would sound twice again before she could cast off.

Both pilots were in the lofty pilot-house, down from the breast-board of which a light line ran forward to the bell's tongue, but neither pilot touched the line or the helm.

For the captain's use another cord from the bell hung over the hurricane deck's front and down to the boiler deck rail, but neither up there on the boiler deck nor anywhere near the bell on the roof above it was any captain to be seen.


Artist Seymour Fleishman drew the illustrations for an abridged edition of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" published by Scott Foresman & Co. in 1949. For the fly leaves Fleishman drew a wonderful cartoon-style map of "St. Petersburg" (the fictional name that Mr. Clemens gave his hometown of Hannibal, MO in his Tom and Huck novels).

In the upper left quadrant Fleishman included Sam Clemens on a steamboat on the Mississippi with the initials of his pen name on the paddlebox. The maps on the fly leaves were printed in sepia toned lines over white and just for fun I added color to all the citizens, livestock, landscape, river and village buildings in Photoshop.

In this detail I also added an American flag with red and white stripes at the stern and a red star in the pennant on the jack staff on the bow.



Holling C. Holling illustration from MINN of the MISSISSIPPI

All the illustrations are beautiful and in the margins of the pages with text on them are sketches by Holling on an infinity of subjects such as nature including fish, fowl and other wildlife. History of Native Americans and explorers expeditions and of course all manner of floating craft including flatboats, keelboats, shanty boats and of course steamboats that carried passengers and the U.S. mail and towboats that pushed barges with every sort of cargo. People who lived along the shore past and present are included. Very worthwhile book to get and in soft cover reprints, very reasonable or you can find hardcover early editions, including the first from 1951. The first copy I read and pored over the illustrations in came from the public library until I found a second hand copy for my very own. Attached is my favorite of the color illustrations which include steamboats. Page 66 has text and Holling's educational sketches of steamboats. File a bit large for your posting and I can check on whether this one can stand reduction or not, or I can isolate the sketches and montage them together to take up less space and transcribe the text which would take up a lot less space if included in the caption.

The perfect review on Bill Ectric's site "Literary Kicks" below:

Minn of the Mississippi
by Holling Clancy Holling

Houghton Mifflin Company, 1951

First Edition. 85 pages

Holling C. Holling's text for page 66 was accompanied by sketches of early steamboats. (above)

"Yep, 'twas 1811 that changed things. Plenty! Some folks up at Pittsburgh had whanged out an iron kettle, all crawling with pipes; wrestled it into a boat; set a fire under it. A sane man would have bet that fool boat would blow to thunder! Yet she could spank herself upstream! And she traveled Ohio and Mississippi, out-whooping loudest Injuns and keelboatmen! Oak-tough pole-men sure hated like poison to admit that horny hands, leather lungs, rawhide sinews were beat by hatfuls of wispy STEAM!

STEAMBOATS changed the rivers — planted new towns, and people. Like keelboats, they had their days of glory. Then came "steam cars." Now other cars, rolling on rubber, coax old steamboat towns to new highways, back from the waterfront; while all-steel TOWBOATS, with "screws" and no paddle-wheels, push barges instead of towing! Seems like the world's been crazy since 1811, when that first steamboat hit the River!

Yep, Ole Mississip sure went crazy that year! New Madrid Earthquake, worst in U.S. history, rocked the frontier. Lightning flashes, choking sulphur fumes, thundering roars, folks screaming, fowls screeching, cattle bawling — seemed like the end of the world! There were cabins crumbling, folks dying, earth-cracks gaping and swallowing things. Tree-rows leaned back, whipped over, crashed down — and the billows rolled through forests, across solid fields like waves on the liquid sea. . . .

And the River? It sucked itself dry from banks and bed, pulling itself apart. It slammed tons of barges on bare river bed at New Madrid, and the crews ran for shore on sand bottom. Some made it — but the River came back, twelve feet tall, to scoop the wrecks under and race uphill for whole minutes. New Madrid sank some fifteen feet. The earth shuddered, off and on, a couple of years. Even cows got used to staggering. The crazy river had made big Reelfoot Lake, south of Hickman, where no lake was before. That steamboat? Slid down to New Orleans in safety. Old Injuns said its bad magic made the quake! Howsomever, steamboats did change the River. . . .

Minn, swimming among her sunken staterooms like a serving platter carried by unseen hands, did not know that the long-ago earthquake had heaped her sand pile."


Minn of the Mississippi: On the River
Bill Ectric • June 6th, 2004

Long before my young attention span could handle reading the entire text of this book, I sat for hours pouring over the fascinating illustrations. Minn of the Mississippi, by Holling Clancy Holling, left a lasting impression on me. It wasn't as easy to read as The Cat In the Hat, but the detailed panoramas of river life, tugboats, floods, peaceful dark swamps, all told the story like a good movie that I could watch over and over again with the turning of pages. Eventually I did finish the entire text -- a landmark in my progress as a young reader. Recently, upon reading it again, was I impressed with the idea that this book is like the turtle version of On the Road.

The story begins way up in the North Woods of Minnesota. Minn is the name of one baby turtle which hatches from a group of turtle eggs. All the baby turtles scurry for safety as a crow swoops down, looking to make a meal of them. Just then, a hunter fires a rifle at the crow. The bullet nicks the crow's tail feathers and cuts off Minn's left rear leg. The crow flies away, scared by the rifle. The baby turtles, including the injured Minn, instinctively run from their sandy nest, plop into the water, and hide themselves by digging down into the silt of the river bottom.

Minn recovers from the wound and begins an amazing twenty-five year adventure which takes her down the entire length of the Mississippi River through several states, past river towns and cities, struggling over and under dams, captured on boats for a time, witnessing floods, encountering both humans and animals which are sometimes friendly and sometimes dangerous, laying eggs along the way, until at last she reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf being too salty, Minn settles nearby in a New Orleans bayou with the help of some friendly fishermen.

The story ends with a message, or moral. Over the years, as humans were striving for wealth and possessions, the power of the river remained constant and just barely tamed by man's technology. The riverbed where Minn now lives is covered with coins, gold treasures, rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, all from sunken ships of past pirates, businessmen, and riverboat gamblers. Did these riches mean anything to Minn the turtle? Holling writes:

Thus Minn lived on a glittering heap ... of what? Rich jewels, once more, were merely stones; and one of the earth's heaviest elements, melted neatly into golden wafers of equal weight ... was returned again to the care of earth and water. For Minn, her doorstep of so-called treasure was only a hardness, like water-worn pebbles.

Holling Clancy Holling wrote and illustrated several children's books which have been used often by teachers to help kids learn about geography, history, zoology, and and anthropology. These books include Paddle-to-the-Sea (1941), Tree in the Trail (1942), Seabird (1948), Minn of the Mississippi (1951), and Pagoo (1957). He did a lot of research to make sure his books were accurate. Sometimes his wife, Lucille, helped with the illustrations.

Holling was born in Michigan on August 2, 1900. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 1923 and became a member of the zoology department at the Chicago Museum of Natural History from 1923 to 1926. He and Lucille Webster were married in 1925. Before becoming a full-time writer, Holling also worked as a teacher for New York University, a freelance designer, an advertising artist, and an illustrator for other people's books. Mr. Holling died on September 7, 1973.

I would like to conclude with another quote from the book. This is the part where Minn the turtle passes through New Orleans, much of which is below sea level. I really like how Holling describes it:

"New Orleans is a cooking pan, a laughing face and a rhythm. A soft humming runs down its levees like rain-trickles of sound. It comes from houses, mansions, shops and skyscrapers; from dark alleys and day-bright boulevards; from people working and people at play; from feet hissing on dance floors, from hands beating, from singing mouths; and the rhythm is cradled in crooning strings, a moaning of the trumpets, drums sobbing ... And some of the rhythm has jungle in it; it tells of other rivers, crocodiles, long cats and shadows of elephants?And as Minn went by, drums talked this New Orleans rhythm into the river night ..."

Minn of the Mississippi was one of my favorite books as a child, and still is.


An illustration of Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle by celebrated American artist N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) for one of John Hay's PIKE COUNTY BALLADS. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., 1912.

These lines from the poem give you a capsule description of Engineer Jim Bludso's creed:

"And this was all the religion he had,

To treat his engine well;Never be passed on the river;

To mind the pilot's bell;And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire,

A thousand times he swore.He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank

Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats has their day on the Mississip,

And her day come at last,The Movastar was a better boat.

But the Belle she wouldn't be passed."

John Hay (1838 - 1905) was raised on the Mississippi in Warsaw, Illinois which is 57 miles due north of Sam Clemens' Hannibal, MO. Hay was one of Abe Lincoln's two private secretaries in D.C. during the Civil War. From 1898 - 1905 Hay was Secretary of State. Hay praised Mark Twain for capturing the atmosphere of Hannibal as a typical rivertown in the 1840's and '50's in LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI.


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