Mark Twain’s Conklin Crescent

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, owned this house with his wife Livy in Hartford, Conn.

Way back in 2013 I wrote a post called “Was Mark Twain the First Pen Pitchman?“. It was the oft repeated story about how author Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain, advertised his support for the Conklin Crescent back in 1903. Clemens is best remembered for his novels “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Plus there is the more relevant-than-it-has-been-in 100 years “The Gilded Age.”

I wouldn’t normally revisit an old post, but I just went to the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn. It is a beautiful house that he had custom built with his wife Livy (Olivia). Although Clemens was a noted writer and wit when they married in 1870, Olivia was the source of their wealth–the daughter of a prominent timber and coal baron. Their house in Hartford was built soon after their marriage. Remarkably, the young man who painted their foyer was none other than Louis Comfort Tiffany!

Clemens would write both Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in that house.

At the bottom of the photo you can see the Conklin Crescent fountain pen that Mark Twain called his “profanity saver.” Above it to the right is his inkwell.

Among the many artifacts on display was the great author’s actual Conklin Crescent fountain pen. I am not sure what model it is. Yet, I was a bit appalled by its condition. Chunks of black hard rubber were missing from the barrel threads. It definitely isn’t in a condition to be restored to working order and safely used. Nevertheless, it was great to see the actual pen that is so frequently written about and rarely photographed.

If you find yourself in Connecticut, it is worth the visit to this museum. The house is very well preserved, and I certainly learned a ton about the author and his family.

Plus, his next door neighbor was Harriet Beecher Stowe who famously wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a critical look at American slavery that helped to promote the abolition movement. Her house is now a museum you can explore, too!

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