Fathom That

In Samuel Clemens’s book, Life on the Mississippi, he explains that he took the pseudonym from the senior riverboat captain Isaiah Sellers, who would take note of practical information about the river, and would sign them “MARK TWAIN.”   Clemens subsequently wrote these were published – with some of Mr. Seller’s descriptive phrases – by a local newspaper (although historians have been unable to actually confirm the truth of Clemens’ assertions). What is known, is that Clemens wrote a parody and published it in another New Orleans newspaper, the New Orleans Daily Crescent.  According to Clemens, Sellers was so upset that not only did he never again submit his  notes for publication, but he never signed ‘Mark Twain’ to anything again.  ‘Mark Twain’ also happens to be the term used by riverboat captains and crew for water that is two fathoms (12 feet) deep – important information for a steamboat, since it can mean the difference between safe passage or being trapped or worse: sunk in shallow water.

Never the Twain Shall Meet

Although Samuel Clemens’s earliest use of the pseudonym Mark Twain was in February 1863 in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, how he chose that name is still uncertain.  Any ideas?


This Statue Artist Had Good Odds!

In March of 2011, The U.S. Postal Service was notified the stamp with the image of Lady Liberty they issued, was not the image of Lady Liberty standing majestically in New York harbor, but that of a replica standing in front of the “New York, New York” hotel in Las Vegas. Oops! But they were pretty happy with the picture, so chose to ignore that fact and ultimately stopped printing that particular stamp a few years later.

When the artist of the hotel statue, Robert Davidson, realized the stamp image was actually his creation, he asked for royalties, but since the replica was a copy of the famous statute, the postal service argued the statue (and its image) wasn’t entitled to copyright protection. Davidson stated his replica was not just a copy and that he had altered the features of the sculpture, different from the original. One can actually see the differences and ultimately the dispute ended up in court, which sided with Davidson. Although he was asking for a percentage of all the stamps sold, the court awarded him 5% of the value of stamps (about $70 mm) which translates into approximately $3.5mm. Not bad considering the fact that most artists receive only about $5,000 for their work.

P.S. Since the image was in Vegas, it’s fitting the question was asked on the 7th and the answer on the 11th . . After all 7-11 are pretty lucky – at least for one sculptor!

It Was 20 Years Ago

This past New Year’s Day, January 1, 2019 marks the 20th (one score in years) anniversary of the introduction of the Euro as legal currency in 1999.

Euros: Score!!!!

When was the Euro introduced as legal currency on the world market?