[Quarry Farm, Elmira, New York?]: July 12, 1886.
The card lettered in a mock gothic hand, 'Socrates Goldenrod, Shee. July 12, 1886. ' Printed on one side of stiff card stock, with a 1/4" decorative border on all sides. 1 vols. 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches overall. The Cat's Meow of Calling Cards. Fine. Item #35027
Mark Twain loved cats. He owned them, adopted them, wrote about them, and lived the better part of his mature years surrounded by them. W.H. Auden wrote an essay about the gift some artists have for the naming of things -- characters in novels, animals, even inanimate objects. It was a gift Mark Twain had in abundance. In any of the biographies and studies of his work can be found frequent references to the cats he owned and the names he gave them. None seems more imaginative than Socrates Goldenrod, a favorite cat who lived with Twain at Quarry Farm in Elmira, where he stayed for an extended period of time in the home of his sister-in-law in 1886. In Volume III of the Notebooks and Journals, published by the University of California, is a letter from Twain, dated July 12, 1886, to a Mr. Gibson (the original is in the Copley Library at La Jolla, California), in which Twain writes of the current favorite cat in the family, and includes a brief pencil sketch in the text of the letter. We are not sure what occasioned the idea of a calling card for the presumably wise Socrates, nor who in fact prepared it, though it may as easily have been Twain as any oither member of the large and busy household. In any case, it was done, and though we have made no intensive survey of the possibility of other such items prepared for real animals, there is no doubt that Toad of Toad Hall and some of his imaginary acquaintances may have had such symbols of social success. We venture to guess that this may well prove, if not unique, certainly among the rarest such bits of fancy undertaken by a loving owner.