Steamboat People
Samuel Clemens - Mark Twain


Original Pilot's Certificate of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) "On the Mississippi River to and from St. Louis and New Orleans" Given by the Inspectors for the District of St. Louis on the 9th day of April 1859 approximately 8 x 12 inches

from the collection of The Mariner's Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, Virginia 23606

Below: Cub Pilot Samuel Clemens, 1858.



Mark Twain by Gaetano Federici marble bas relief scupture

Attached scans from 2 color slides taken by the marble restoration expert at The Getty back in the 1990s.

I bought the broken bas relief by Gaetano Federici of Mark Twain (made during the 1940's) from Robert Lumpp of Hannibal, MO who owned and operated the MARK TWAIN excursion boat on the Mississippi River and also established a mini-theme park called Sawyer's Creek at the mouth of Cave Hollow.

While visiting Robert in his office at Sawyer's Creek I noticed a framed marble bas relief of Sam Clemens on wall and asked him how it came to be broken and he told me that the frame as originally built wasn't sturdy enough to hold the heavy marble, which fell out of the bottom and onto the floor where it broke horizontally across the lower half of the sculpture and through Mark Twain's throat. I purchased the piece and after it arrived in a crate here in California I took it to the Getty Museum where I commissioned an expert to restore the piece and he provided a series of slides of the restoration and I have scanned and composited two of them to demonstrate the before and after state of the work of art. The ultimate/final result not pictured here is much cleaner and brighter.

The now sturdily-built framed bas relief is securely attached to a wall downstairs here at home and it makes for an appropriate shrine to remember Sam Clemens by. Below is a biography of Federici from the Federici Collections site and a link to a video interview with Vince Parrillo who produced a documentary on the sculptor.

"Gaetano Federici" | Vince Parrillo | Joanna Gagis | Life & Living
Steve Adubato
Aug 8, 2014

Vince Parrillo, Documentary Filmmaker talks about his newest film, "Gaetano Federici: The Sculptor Laureate of Paterson", which looks into the life of this great sculptor whose work can still be seen throughout Paterson, New Jersey. Gaetano Federici (1880 - 1964)

recent acquisitions

While reviewing sculptor's Walter Russell's Mark Twain-inspired works it was uncanny to recognize how much the artist's image of Huckleberry Finn resembled immortal actor James Dean (see inset of him with a similar smile below).

As a boy Dean would have been fabulous in the role of Huck Finn and he would also been ideal to record the complete narrative of the novel which was told in first person by Huck himself.

Since Huck is the most celebrated and beloved fictional character on the Mississippi River he's well qualified to appear even without a steamboat in our museum.

This seated representation of Huck was one of 29 figures in a scaled-down sculpted tableaux created by Russell in anticipation of his proposal to make a large scale version to have been displayed in Hannibal, Missouri represent Mr. Clemens surrounded by 28 characters from his novels including Huck's pal Tom Sawyer, Tom's Aunt Polly and girl friend Becky Thatcher.

Also attached photo of one of Russell's sculptures of Mark Twain's likeness. A bigger-than-life carved marble head of Mark Twain by Russell is exhibited on the 2nd floor of the Mark Twain Museum at the corner of Main & Center Streets in Hannibal.

A plaster cast of the reduced scale tableaux of 29 figures is exhibited in the Visitor's Center adjacent to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal near the corner of Main & Hill in Hannibal.


Found this on Etsy, had never seen or heard of it before.

Page 129 of the original LIFE magazine August 18, 1898 Mr. Sam Clemens MARK TWAIN looking rather like a drawing by the extraordinarily entertaining French artist Honoré Daumier 1808-1879. The LIFE artist isn't identified but he may have been influenced by Daumier. There was a paragraph on the opposite page about Clemens that was intended to be "funny" but instead pretty much nonsensical and not worth including.

recent acquisitions

A 1905 color insert for LIFE magazine inked and painted by artist Albert Levering. Here's Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) in a playful caricature as a pilot steering the steamboat "American Humor."

The lettering in RED was YELLOW in the original; very hard to "read" against white so I converted those letters to red to make them more readable and agreeable.



Mark Twain wrote: "cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

Mark Twain themed promotional flyer for "Buick Tunecare" from Gingrich Motor Company in two Pennsylvania cities: Lebanon and Palmyra during the 1950's.

In the original flyer "Mark Twain" was wearing a brown coat, purple vest and beige slacks. The face on Clemens depicted him in middle age and not an impressive likeness. On the verso of the flyer there was a far superior portrait of Clemens in his senior years over a brown background and wearing a blue coat. In the attached version I gave him a beige coat and made the background blue.

In the illustration with the school boy in the foreground and a "liberated" barefoot boy with fishing pole and hound dog, I converted Twain's suit to white-ish with blue shadowing.

The classic senior citizen Clemens face I imported from the verso of the flyer and composited it into Clemens as he stands, derby in hand behind the school boy.

The original quotation was abbreviated by the publicist for the flyer. Here's is how the full quotation went:

"Training is everything.
The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar (1894)


The New Planet
by Mark Twain

Harper's Weekly
January 20th, 1909
page 13

[The astronomers at Harvard have observed "perturbations in the orbital movement of Neptune" such as might be caused by the presence of a new planet in the vicinity].

I believe in the new planet. I was eleven years old in 1846, when Leverrier and Adams and Mary Somerville discovered Neptune through the disturbance and discomfort it was causing Uranus. "Perturbations," they call that kind of disturbance. I had been having those perturbations myself, for more than two months; in fact all through watermelon time, for they used to keep dogs in some of the patches in those days. You notice that these recent perturbations are considered remarkable because they perturbate through three seconds of arc, but really that is nothing: often I used to perturbate through as much as half an hour if it was a dog that was attending to the perturbating. There isn't any Neptune that can outperturbate a dog: and I know, because I am not speaking from hearsay. Why if there was a planet two hundred and fifty thousand "light-years" the other side of Neptune's orbit, Professor Pickering would discover it in a minute if it could perturbate equal to a dog. Give me a dog every time, when it comes to perturbating. You let a dog jump out at you all of a sudden in the dark of the moon, and you will see what a small thing three seconds of arc is: the shudder that goes through you then would open the seams of Noah's ark itself, from figurehead to rudder-post, and you would drop that melon the same as if you had never had any but just a casual interest in it. I know about these things, because this is not tradition I am writing, but history.

Now then, notice this. About the end of August, 1846, a change came over me and I resolved to lead a better life, so I reformed: but it was just as well anyway, because they had got to having guns and dogs both. Although I was reformed, the perturbations did not stop! Does that strike you? They did not stop, they went right on and on and on, for three weeks, clear up to the 23rd of September: then Neptune was discovered, and the whole mystery stood explained. It shows that I am so sensitively constructed that I perturbate when any other planet is disturbed. This has been going on all my life. It only happens in the watermelon season, but that has nothing to do with it, and has no significance: geologists and anthropologists and horticulturalists all tell me it is only ancestral and hereditary, and that is what I think myself. Now then, I got to perturbating again this summer—all summer through: all through watermelon time: and where, do you think? Up here on my farm in Connecticut. Is that significant? Unquestionably it is, because you couldn't raise a watermelon on this farm with a derrick.

That perturbating was caused by the new planet. That Washington Observatory may throw as much doubt as it wants to. It cannot affect me, because I know there is a new planet. I know it because I don't perturbate for nothing. There has got to be a dog or a planet, one or the other; and there isn't any dog around here, so there's got to be a planet. I hope it is going to be named after me; I should just love it if I can't have a constellation.

recent acquisitions

James Dean as Huck Finn.


Hal Holbrook: Mark Twain Tonight! (1967 TV Special)
6 March 1967
Vining Productions, CBS
88 minutes Available on DVD

Recreating the one-man show he starred in on Broadway, Hal Holbrook portrays Mark Twain as a 70-year old humorist who skewers politicians, newspapermen and so-called patriots in this 90 minute monologue.

Holbrook adapted Twain's own words for a commentary on slavery, religion and politics, mixing the satire with comic yarns about life on the Mississippi and a very effective ghost story.

The show's highlight are the lengthy passages from "Huckleberry Finn".

- David Bassler


More Mark Twain Collections


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.