[From The New York Times, 15 January 1885]


  BOSTON, Jan. 14.–Judge Colt heard, this morning, in the United States Circuit Court, the case of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) against Estes & Lauriat, publishers, in this city. The complainant wished to enjoin Estes & Lauriat from issuing a catalogue offering Mark Twain's unpublished book, "Huckleberry Finn," at a price less than the subscription rate, and also from collusion with the subscription agents, so as to obtain the books at a price less than their agreement allowed. George L. Huntress and S. Lincoln appeared for Mr. Clemens, and S. J. Elder for Estes & Lauriat. Mr. Huntress explained the difference between the "subscription" method of sale and the "trade" method, and declared that the custom has always been that subscription books should not be sold to the trade and should not be sold at prices less than the rate set by the publishers. He cited the case of Prince Albert against Strange. The latter obtained plates of a private book of etchings of Prince Albert and the Queen and advertised the etchings for exhibition. He was restrained not only from exhibiting the etchings but also from advertising them. Mark Twain's book will not be ready for four or five weeks, yet last month Estes & Lauriat advertised in their catalogue the book as then ready for sale at the price of $2.25, instead of $2.75, the subscription rate. They based their advertisement on the probability of causing some agent to break his agreement by selling to them at reduced rates. The affidavit of Charles L. Webster, of New-York, publisher for Mark Twain, stated the agreements which every agent had to sign, agreeing not to sell the book to booksellers or to any one except subscribers. The affidavits of Charles E. Lauriat, Dana Estes, and others connected with the firm offered testimony substantiating the declarations of counsel. They denied having approached any agent to corrupt him. Mr. Elder stated that out of courtesy the firm would not send out any more catalogues, but good faith with their customers required them to fulfill the orders already received and to be received. Upon the convening of the court in the afternoon Mr. Lincoln made his argument for Mr. Clemens, and Mr. Elder cited certain authorities bearing upon his side of the case, and the court took the papers and reserved decision.

Homepage Next Page