Library exhibits reflect history of Mark Twain, sinking of Titanic

With anniversaries of two historic events occurring in April and two memorabilia collectors to share their treasures, the Carson City Library is offering two exhibits which will be on display through the end of the month.

April 21 marks the anniversary of Mark Twain's death in 1910, and April 15 is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, according to Andrea Moore, programming outreach manager for the Carson City Library.

Carson City residents Gerald Bartholomew with his Mark Twain collection, and Mike Cundiff with his Titanic memorabilia, are both avid historians who are happy to share their collections and enthusiasm.


Bartholomew has been adding to his Mark Twain collection for more than 40 years.

"I've got a houseful," Bartholomew said. "It has been a hobby of mine for years and years."

It all started on a visit to his grandmother's house.

"She had just remodeled and took out some bookshelves to put up paneling. I asked her if I could go down in the basement to look at the books, and I found 25 volumes of the collected works of Mark Twain from 1915 or (19)20," Bartholomew said.

"That was my introduction, but I soon discovered that six to eight volumes were missing, and thus began my quest to find the entire collection," he said. "I recently found the last missing volume about three years ago in Chicago."

Bartholomew said that while the collected works is not first edition, it remains a highly collectible set.

In addition to the collected works, he said he has a good-sized collection of Mark Twain memorabilia including several first edition books, miniature books, a tie with a picture of Huckleberry Finn, mugs, old records and more. Some are now in the display case at the library along with a few signed copies donated to him by another collector who died about five years ago.

"I always used to cruise bookstores when I lived in L.A., and I ordered lots online and through eBay. I bought things wherever I could find them," he said.

Bartholomew has promised to donate his entire collection to the new library that many hope will be built downtown as part of the City Center Project. Library Director Sara Jones has said there will be a special area set aside for the collection, which will draw residents as well as out-of-town residents to the project area.

"I want to see it kept all together. I've spent so much time on it," Bartholomew said.

"My tagline has always been that Carson City is the birthplace of Mark Twain. He used that name for the first time in a letter to the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City when he was covering the Territorial Legislature," he said. "Sam Clemens was born in Missouri, but Mark Twain was born in Nevada. We have a claim on that."


Cundiff's interest in the Titanic was stirred in 1967 when he was only 10 years old living at Lake Tahoe.

"I saw the movie 'Night to Remember,' (about the sinking of the Titanic) and it had a big effect on me. Then when they found the wreckage in 1985, I was on fire," he said.

He wrote to a number of people involved in recovery efforts and was fortunate to find some interesting information. He is also a member of, a group of people fascinated by all facts surrounding the tragedy.

"It was a freak accident - man against nature - and oveconfidence," Cundiff said.

"It took three-and-a-half years from the time the iceberg broke away from Greenland for it to get to that rendezvous point and only five days for the Titanic to get there," he said. "The last survivor died just last year."

In the exhibit, patrons will find treasures such as photos, newspaper clippings, letters and artifact replicas.

"I have one newspaper article with a headline that says, 'All passengers have been saved,' and a photo of me on the grand staircase in (a) Las Vegas (exhibit)," he said.

"People have a million questions when they talk to me. I've been talking to Andrea about presenting a lecture at the library next year on the 100th anniversary of it sinking," Cundiff said.

"The Titanic just took me by storm, and it would be nice to share. There are so many things people don't know," he said.


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