Mark Twain (1835–1910)
Mark Twain's Memory-Builder: a game for acquiring and retaining all sorts of facts and dates: the original three piece game / written and designed by Mark Twain. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1891.
Gift of Miss Julia P. Wightman, 1991; PML 86967–9
By the nineteenth century, invention as a means of progress had become deeply rooted in the American consciousness, and individual entrepreneurial inventors were akin to folk heroes. Twain enjoyed the friendship of Thomas Edison, who recorded the author's voice on a wax cylinder and his image with a motion picture camera. Twain nurtured aspirations as an inventor and secured patents on a diverse range of products, including a self-pasting scrapbook, a perpetual calendar, a notebook with tear-away tabs, a self-adjusting garter, and this game. Only the scrapbook ever turned a profit, bringing him $50,000. Memory-Builder was a commercial disaster, though not on the scale of the Paige typesetter, in which Twain continued to invest until it brought about his bankruptcy in 1894.