Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Joking with the Tin Man

This is another photo I recently picked up, from the 1903 Wizard of Oz. This a vintage reprint of a well known image of Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, oiling David Montgomery's Tin Man. It's difficult to say when this particular print is from - it was part of the collection of Culver Pictures, a long-time photo service. Judging by the style of a rubber stamping on the back, this print was sent out for use sometime between 1960 and 1963 - but it may have been tucked in their files for much longer.

This pose was also the basis for the cover of A Tin Man's Joke Book, from 1904 (the image shown at right is taken from The Oz Scrapbook). This was a small paperback book, published by J. S. Ogilvie, very possibly without the knowledge of L. Frank Baum. Ogilvie was also the publisher of Pictures From the Wonderful Wizard of Oz - so Oz was familiar territory for the company!

While looking about on the web, I found an ad for the Ogilvie series of Joke Books. The Tin Man is listed as #46, and #47 is A Scarecrow's Joke Book. I wonder if this image of Fred Stone was used for the cover of that one!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Whirlpool

At the beginning of The Scarecrow of Oz, L. Frank Baum's Oz book for 1915, the characters Trot and Cap'n Bill are captured by a whirlpool while out boating. This incident starts their series of adventures, leading them to the land of Oz.

John R. Neill drew a vivid image of the whirlpool, complete with sea nymph rising from the foam. About a year and a half ago, I drew this up to be made into a stained glass window, and it has finally been produced.
Here are a series of photos showing the procedure for creating the window.
The first step is to draw the full size pattern, or cartoon, for the window. This obviously was based on Neill's illustration. We then color in the cartoon to help differentiate areas of the window - the color scheme isn't always what we intend for the final piece.
We cut and fit the glass, and the face and body pieces are painted and fired in a kiln. Glass paint is actually powdered minerals, mixed together with certain oils, or in this case with water and gum arabic. Each layer of paint is fired before applying the next. This picture shows 3 palettes of paint, and the glass muller which is used to grind and mix the pigment.
After cutting and fitting, each piece of glass is wrapped with a thin copper foil. This will hold the finished window together. 
The copper wrapped pieces are soldered together, the window is cleaned, the lead lines darkened and voila! - a finished window.

This makes a good companion piece to the Polychrome window we created a couple years ago!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Montgomery Ward

Here's another example of work done by W. W. Denslow for Montgomery Ward. This is a pamphlet from 1897 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the mail order company, the first of its kind. On the cover we have Uncle Sam, in the guise of a mailman, collecting an order from a farmer, working in his field - farmers were one of the core customers for the company.

The booklet is quite small, about 3.5" by 6".  As it was a silver anniversary, the cover is a shining metallic silver, printed in blue. The brilliance of the silver can make the delicate drawing difficult to see in bright light!

Denslow provided a number of spot illustrations for the story, which told of the origins of the firm. The drawings are very small and not very well printed, similar in style to newspaper work the artist had done. My favorite is this boy emptying the mailbag of orders for Montgomery Ward!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Oz Scarf

Wizard of Oz head scarves were among the many items manufactured at the time of the 1939 MGM film. These were produced by Brian Fabrics, and there are three different designs that I'm aware of. This is an example of one, a whimsical pattern filled with Oz imagery. Whenever I see this, it makes me think of a game board!

I had not seen this color scheme before, although another of the same has popped up on eBay. I don't know how many color variations were made for this particular design, but I have seen 3 others so far. 
There are interesting errors in the character vignettes; I like this one in particular, where the Wizard has joined Glinda to greet Dorothy on her arrival!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Passing Show

The Passing Show of 1913 was one of an annual series of elaborate Broadway reviews, that parodied recent shows as well as presenting extravagant new production numbers. The series ran from 1912 to 1926, and was designed to compete with the popular Ziegfield Follies. This is an original stage photo from the production, a fun image that could almost be considered as Oz twice removed.
 One show chosen to lampoon was a hit from the 1912 season, The Lady of the Slipper, which starred Fred Stone and David Montgomery. This was a version of Cinderella, with a score by Victor Herbert. In this version of the story, Cinderella is accompanied to the ball by a pair of attendants, named Punks and Spooks. Punks, played by Montgomery, was a jack o' lantern brought to life, while Spooks was a scarecrow blown in through the window.

Spooks was played by Stone, who took the opportunity to reprise his famous Oz Scarecrow from 10 years earlier. The characters do not remain in these forms for long, being transformed into a coachman and footman. The color images shown here are from a souvenir program for the show, courtesy of Bill Thompson.

The Passing Show opened its first act with a spoof of this story. The top photo shows Freddie Nice, Laura Hamilton and Charles DeHaven as Spooks, Cinderella and Punks. A key sheet of photos from this show is in the New York Public Library's digital archive, and includes this image as well as another from the same segment. It appears that Cinderella's attendants are transformed for the ball, but she remains in her rags!
 The show was large and included in the cast was Grace Kimball, who had played several roles in The Wizard of Oz. Also included was Charlotte Greenwood; she would play Queen Ann of Oogaboo later the same year, in The Tik Tok Man of Oz. The photo on the right shows the actress performing one of her trademark high kicks!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Early Denslow

Here's an early example of advertising work by W. W. Denslow, the original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This is one of a set of postcards depicting several Roman Gods as babies, from 1884. This particular card shows a baby Pluto, complete with metallic gold flame and menacing bat. I think it's my favorite of the series.

These were produced for stores to use, adding their own names and addresses - in this case it was the druggist, Frank Butler. Which immediately makes me think of Annie Oakley - but this Frank Butler was a storekeeper in Bellefontaine, Ohio, not a Wild West Show attraction.

The card doesn't bear a Denslow signature, and is very different from the work he would become known for in later years. Several examples of other cards from this series are currently available from Wonderful Books of Oz.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pastoria and the Lion

Here's a new find - a photo from the 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz. This is an original photo that I've never seen before, of two major characters from the show - Pastoria and the Cowardly Lion.

Pastoria is one of several new characters created by L. Frank Baum for the stage version of his story. He is the true ruler of Oz, whose throne was usurped by the Wizard. In the stage story, he is blown back to Oz by the same cyclone that captures Dorothy, and manages to regain his throne.

In this photo Pastoria is wearing a costume from the first act. He's disguised as a circus performer, and posing with the Cowardly Lion. The Lion was played by Arthur Hill (presumably inside the costume), and was nothing like the Bert Lahr tour-de-force in the MGM film. In the stage show, he doesn't speak, and plays a fairly minor role.

This photo is rather small, and looks like a candid shot. It's not one of the usual publicity photos, as it lacks any kind of backdrop and looks as though it may have been taken backstage. It is mounted on heavy paper with handwritten captions, including the date 1903-1904. I don't know where it originated, but it's fun to think that it may have come from the actor's scrapbook, as a record of his role!

Several men played Pastoria (technically he's Pastoria the Second, as noted in the caption) through the run of the show. Judging by the dates, this could be Owen Westford, who was the third actor to play the part - or it could be Arthur Larkin who was touring with the second company of the show.

The two characters can be seen in the center of this picture from the Poppy scene.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Popular Land

For a time, from the mid 1920's to 1930's, there were two versions available of The Land of Oz. The "regular" edition, which contained 12 color plates, and the "popular" edition which only had a color frontispiece. The popular edition cost a dollar, as opposed to the $1.60 or so that was charged for the standard edition. When color plates were dropped from the books in the mid 1930's, the popular editions faded away.
The popular edition was clearly identified on the front cover - but the words pop up in a variety of places! Above, you can see a couple versions, taken from the Internet. In 1939, another popular edition was released to capitalize on the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz. This time, the book was given a new cover and larger format - but the price remained the same.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rosemary and Rue

In the past I've posted quite a few titles published by Rand McNally with covers designed by W. W. Denslow. Denslow also designed posters for many of the books, including this lovely example from 1896 for Rosemary and Rue, which I recently added to the collection.

This is a good example of the way that Denslow's book posters could contain far more than his book covers. The cover makes use of the images of rosemary, heart and harp but the elaborate poster makes different use of these elements.

This poster is printed in two colors on a heavy, fibrous brown paper, creating a third tone for the entire image. There is a small inscription at the bottom of the poster reading "Compliments of the artist" - as there was on the poster shown two weeks ago, for the Chicago Times-Herald.

The author Amber was Martha Everts Holden, who founded the Bohemian Club in Chicago. She also happened to be Denslow's mother-in-law, although she passed away shortly before he married her daughter, Ann Waters Holden, in 1896. Denslow met Amber while working at the Chicago Herald, where she wrote essays and verses for the special features department, which she also managed.

After her death, Denslow was instrumental in having Rand McNally publish two books of Amber's writings, Rosemary and Rue and Amber Glints. The proceeds were used to help support her young son.

The Bohemian Club met in rooms at the Boyce Building which were decorated in red and brown - perhaps the inspiration for the colors of this poster!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Road/Baum's Own Book

 In 1910, Reilly and Britton published Baum's Own Book for Children. This was a repackaging of an earlier title, L. Frank Baum's Juvenile Speaker, with a new title and cover design. This book is a compilation of bits from Baum's previously published books - the cover claim"With Many Hitherto Unpublished Selections" is certainly untrue!

Just as the book is repackaged, the cover design is a repackaging of sorts, made up of bits from the prior year's Oz title, The Road to Oz.

In The Road to Oz, John R. Neill created a pair of alternating chapter headings. One was a sort of ornamental shield, and the other was a ring of children's faces; both were used as frameworks with story-specific illustrations in the center. The ring of children became the main motif on the cover of Baum's Own Book.

This illustration has always struck me as odd within The Road to Oz, due to the manner in which it was printed. Each appearance seems soft and slightly blurred, with vertical white lines running throughout the image. It lacks the crispness of Neill's usual pen work, which is amply displayed throughout the book. Presumably, this was to create a half-tone image, but it comes across as a poorly made printing plate!

In 1910 the same ring of children was used for the cover of Baum's Own Book for Children, but there are definite differences between the two versions. While the illustration used in The Road to Oz is soft, the book cover is sharply printed. The circle has been opened out on both sides, requiring some adjustment to the curve - and suddenly we see fuller versions of two faces!
Within the ring are drawings of the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion. These are each taken from Road illustrations, but with adjustments. The Lion is from the copyright page, with a bit of straightening and a great reduction in the amount of cross-hatching.
The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman are taken from a full page drawing of the characters inside Ozma's palace. For the use on Baum's Own Book, the characters have been cropped and cleaned up, and the Tin Woodman has been reversed. He's also had an arm added!
This all seems like a lot of re-working to put into a cover, but I suppose it was cheaper than hiring Neill to create something new. Presumably the printer would have done this without Neill's assistance, working with existing art. The book itself (without any color plates) cost the same price as the other, more elaborate, Baum books that were available at the time - it hardly seems fair!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Times - Herald

Here is one of W. W. Denslow's earliest posters, from 1895, celebrating the newspaper merger of the Chicago Times and the Chicago Herald. In whimsical fashion, Denslow has shown the Times as a bride, while the Herald is indeed a herald - I particularly like the tunic with an emblem of an ink pot and crossed quills!

This is inscribed in the lower border: "Compliments of Denslow Very Very Rare". On the back is another notation: "Out of Print / Presented with compliments of the artist". Clearly the original owner of the poster was acquainted with Denslow! According to the Hearn/Greene biography of Denslow, this may have been his first poster design.

This piece dates before the time of Denslow's regular use of the hippocampus, or seahorse, emblem. An interesting point is that this poster was made in two sizes - here is the larger size, from the NYPL digital archive. The image has been completely redrawn for each version, with a number of differences in the details!

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I first saw this full page drawing from The Road to Oz about a dozen years ago, at the home of an illustration dealer, and was immediately taken by it - as who wouldn't be! I never expected to own it, but about a year and a half ago it became a prize piece in my collection. Here we see Dorothy and her companions - the Shaggy Man (with a donkey head), Button Bright (with a fox head), Polychrome and Toto - captured by the Scoodlers, creatures with two-faced removable heads, who would like nothing better than to make soup out of the travelers!

Many of the surviving original drawings for Road to Oz have sketches on the back of the board, for other drawings in the book. This one is no exception, although it is a small and very sketchy sketch. This is for the scene of the Shaggy Man catching the heads of the Scoodlers and tossing them into a cavern, as he and the others escape. There are also a number of numerical doodles and sums, something else that's not uncommon on John R. Neill art!

The Road to Oz is considered to contain some of Neill's finest and most elaborate work, and it's easy to see why when examining the many whimsical details on the Scoodlers in this drawing. Sadly, much of the crisp line work is lost in reproduction, especially in later printings of the book.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Julia Dyar Hardy

This copy of Jack Pumpkinhead, one of the Snuggle Tales, is a recent acquisition. This copy happens to be in its original dust jacket, which is always a bonus on a children's book!

When Reilly & Britton published their series of Baum's Snuggle Tales in 1916-17, they bypassed John R. Neill for new cover designs and instead used Julia Dyar Hardy. I haven't been able to find out much about Hardy, other than the fact that she did illustrate other books at that time.

Another example of her work in a Reilly & Britton title is Betty's Policeman; she also provided illustrations for the series of Snip and Snap books, for the Volland company, the publishers of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Perhappsy Chaps and Princess of Cozytown.

In Hardy's Snuggle Tale covers we do get to see a few Oz celebrities - Jack Pumpkinhead, Tip, and the Sawhorse are shown above, and a Scarecrow doll appears on the cover of Once Upon a Time. The Gingerbread Man shows John Dough, who does make a cameo appearance in The Road to Oz. But the Yellow Hen (featured on the book of the same title) isn't Billina - instead it's an earlier hen from a story in Mother Goose in Prose.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Baum's American Fairy Tales

Baum's American Fairy Tales was published in 1908, but it is actually an expanded and updated version of American Fairy Tales from 1901. Three stories were added, and the book was re-illustrated with 16 two-color plates by George Kerr.  The publisher was the Bobbs Merrill company, who had already published several Baum books, and had the rights to the older Baum titles published by the defunct George M. Hill company.

The original edition of the book was rather elaborately produced, with 24 full page drawings and decorative borders on every page. But there are no color plates, and the drawings are by a variety of artists, which lends a somewhat uneven quality.

The 16 new illustrations in the new edition provide a more cohesive look to the book. Of course there is the rather obvious flaw on the cover drawing - the boy's hand is clearly backwards, or else his arm is being brutally twisted!

George Kerr is interesting for having contributed to several books in the Oz style, such as Bobby in Bugaboo Land, and The Golden Goblin. He was involved in a notorious divorce case in 1907-1909, and continued his career into the 1940's.