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

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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Greetings from Denslow

Here's a holiday cartoon panel by W. W. Denslow, that appeared in the St Paul Globe on Dec 13th, 1903. It was syndicated in other papers as well; a variety of characters from various Denslow books are here, even a familiar looking lion... Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Montgomery Ward

W. W. Denslow did a lot of commercial artwork in the course of his career, creating pamphlets, postcards, posters etc. One of his clients in the 1890's was the Montgomery Ward Company, the first mail-order retailer in America. He created many drawings for the Ward catalogs of the late 90's, as well as two almanacs - this one for 1898, and another for 1899.

Images from the interior of this piece, as well as the 1899 version can be seen on the Wannabe Wonderlands: Outside of Oz blog, a very good resource for viewing vintage children's books in the style of Oz, as well as other related items.

Both of the almanacs feature a selection of drawings of country life through the year. One of my favorites is this great Denslow snowman, collecting an order for Montgomery Ward - and here's an early Denslow Santa making deliveries!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poppies will make them sleep.....

Here is a fun illustration that appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1903. It provides a different view of the famous Poppy scene from the Broadway Wizard of Oz, and was published together with a short blurb praising the show.

The drawing is by H. C. Edwards, and dated 1902, which is interesting - the show played Chicago and traveled in 1902, with Dorothy in a pale polka dot dress (seen on the right); when the show moved to Broadway in 1903, a new dress was designed in red with a polka dot apron. This is the costume shown in the illustration - perhaps the dress changed prior to the New York opening on January 20th, 1903!

Dorothy is seen stretched out on the ground, with her cow Imogene asleep at her feet. The sleeping figure of Pastoria (the true ruler of Oz) is propped up in the background, as the Tin Woodman raises an arm in warning that enchantment is at work. The dangerous poppies are in the background, cleverly disguised chorus girls who will sing and dance, and lure travelers into a deadly sleep....until the Snow Queen arrives to save them all!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


It's been a while since I've had an Oz project to post! This is a pair of bookends made by Progressive Arts Products in the early 1970's. The company made quite a variety of plaster or chalkware figures and bookends. This set of the Scarecrow and Tin Man are popular with Oz collectors, for obvious reasons.

I started with a set that had suffered some major wear and tear - I've never been fond of the paint job on these, and this set was particularly drab. Since they were already in distress, I decided to restore them, add a new coat of paint, and freshen them up. So here they are, newly polychromed and ready for service!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Book Fair

This past weekend, I took a trip to Massachusetts to visit family in the Boston area. As it happened, the Boston Book Fair took place that same weekend, which was something I hadn't expected! So, we trundled off to the fair to see what there was to see...

There were a variety of Oz titles throughout the show, as well as the usual wide range of fascinating antiquarian and newer books. One dealer showed me an item he was not yet ready to offer - an original 1902 piano roll from the hit Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz. The roll features selections from the show - a recording of the selections is available on the 2 disc CD set of vintage music from The Wizard of Oz, offered by Hungry Tiger Press.

My sister won the spotting prize for coming across this lovely 1905 Queen Zixi poster. A couple years ago, I purchased an example of this poster that was rather rough, and had it restored; this one is brighter with very little damage, so it had to come home with me!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ozzy Adapting

I recently found my missing half of this set of advertising cards. I've had the Tin Woodman for some time, but the Scarecrow proved elusive! These were produced in 1928 to promote performances of a puppet play written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. I have some more information in an earlier post here.
I find the artwork for these images interesting; they are taken from the endpapers of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, published in 1913. The printing quality is quite poor, when compared with the original book endpapers - a common occurrence with later printings of Oz color plates.
The original artwork is in the archives of the International Wizard of Oz Club. The piece appears to have had a rough life, but this is because it originally served two purposes. The main drawing of the Scarecrow and Tin Man was done to be used as endpapers in the Little Wizard series of books. There was no landscape in the background, just a shadow under each of the figures. The image was printed in blue ink, and the shadow was stippled rather than solid.

In 1932, some of the Little Wizard books were reprinted to be used with sets of jigsaw puzzles, and later as advertising for Jello; this time the image was printed in black with solid shadows underneath. This seems to be what the original artwork would have looked like in its original form.

When looking at the drawing in the club archives, it becomes obvious that the main image of the characters was drawn on a smaller piece of paper, which was later glued to a larger sheet. The shadows beneath the figures were whited out, and a new background was drawn in by John R. Neill. Several of the illustrations from the Little Wizard Series were adjusted and reused in The Patchwork Girl; in this case, the paper size needed to be increased in order to be the correct proportion for the larger book!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Trouble Under Oz

In 2005, The Baum Family Trust began to publish Oz stories with a trilogy of new titles by Sherwood Smith. Unfortunately only two of the titles were published at the time, The Emerald Wand of Oz and Trouble Under Oz, leaving the series in limbo. This year, the final title has finally found its way into print courtesy of Pumpernickel Pickle press.

The first two books were illustrated by William Stout, and in August at
Winkie Con I met Mr Stout. We chatted a bit about John R. Neill's artwork, and I purchased a drawing done as a rough for the cover of the second book, published in 2006. As Mr. Stout is a fan of Oz, and the artwork of John R. Neill, it's not surprising that this image of the Nome King feels very Ozzy!

The new title, illustrated by Kim McFarland, is Sky Pyrates Over Oz. It can be purchased here through Lulu.com.