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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Scraps and Scarecrow!

The past six months or so have been an unusual and surprising sort of golden period for me, in the acquisition of original Oz artwork. A drawing by W. W. Denslow of the Scarecrow and Tinman, pieces by John R. Neill from Marvelous Land of Oz, Road to Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, and this most recent illustration from The Patchwork Girl of Oz, have all found their way into the collection, from a variety of sources. It's a bit overwhelming, but also quite exciting!

This drawing was used as a double page color spread in the published book, and the artwork is quite large at 16" x 24". It's a striking picture of two of the favorite Oz characters, the Scarecrow and Scraps the Patchwork Girl, meeting for the first time. The addition of color in the printing of the book made this a very vibrant image!

This piece popped up quite unexpectedly on eBay recently, much to my surprise. It's a drawing whose existence I've not been aware of although many, if not most, of the illustrations from Patchwork Girl do still survive.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New York Again

Last Autumn I posted about an exhibition at the New York Public Library called The A B C of It: Why Children's Books Matter - the photo on the right is from that post. The show has been extended beyond its initial run, and I stopped by for another look when I was in NYC last week.
I was happy to see that the display of W. W. Denslow illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  had been changed from those I viewed previously. This time, two chapter titles and one color plate drawing were on view. According to Michael Hearn, in The Annotated Wizard of Oz, the drawing for the Chapter Three title page was originally intended for Chapter Two. This explains the paper overlay with the inked title. It's always fun to see these things in person!
I was also pleased to be able to view a special copy of the Wonderful Wizard at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. In December, Bonham's auction house sold a beautiful example of a first state, primary binding Wizard inscribed by both L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow, with a sketch by Denslow. This copy was for sale at the fair - I believe for $240,000. I didn't buy it. But it was lovely to see!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Completing a Facsimile

Here's a piece I picked up on eBay recently. This is a facsimile dust jacket created by John Anthony Miller, for the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Very few examples of the original jacket have survived the years, and I'm not certain if a complete original jacket is known. The chances of my ever owning one are quite slim; so this will have to do!

It fits perfectly on the recent facsimile of the book offered by the Bradford Exchange; it could also be used on an original George M. Hill first edition. It even works on the earlier facsimile produced by Books of Wonder - although it was just a bit wide for my copy. It's a fun touch to complete the appearance of the book!

Don't forget, the Kickstarter campaign for this year's production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is still running - any contribution will help to make this an even more memorable occasion. Here is a video plug for the show!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Kick Start

There is a fascinating Kickstarter project running currently, aimed at this year's Winkie Convention in California; a production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is being put together for a one night only performance, with full cast, sets and costumes. It's a unique chance to see a production of a vintage musical entertainment, that isn't likely to ever be revived on a wide scale. L. Frank Baum wrote the book as well as a number of the song lyrics, and this show was the inspiration for the 1914 Oz title Tik-Tok of Oz.

The initial goal has already been reached, but this is certainly a case of the more the better, in order to be able to flesh out the show more thoroughly - after all, this is supposed to be a Fairyland Extravaganza! Here is a link to the Tik-Tok Man of Oz Kickstarter campaign; any contribution helps, and there are some nice premiums being offered at the higher pledge levels!

There are a couple other Oz-related Kickstarter projects running at the moment. The Shadow of Oz - A Tarot Deck, which ends on Monday, is a unique Tarot deck designed by a number of talented comic book artists, and Who Stole the Ruby Slippers? is a documentary on the still unsolved 2005 theft of a pair of original ruby slippers, from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Jack Restored

Last fall I blogged about a drawing from The Marvelous Land of Oz that I purchased at auction. This happens to be one of my favorite Oz books by L. Frank Baum, and I was happy to be able to add an illustration from the book to my collection. It's a lovely image of Tip admiring the newly created Jack Pumpkinhead, and it was used as a color plate in the published book. Sadly, the original art had seen quite a bit of wear and tear, and there was extensive damage with a number of cracks in the illustration board. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity to acquire one of John R. Neill's first Oz illustrations, from 1904.

Last week I picked up the newly revived Jack Pumpkinhead, and I'm very pleased with the results of the restoration. I worked with an art conservator based at the local museum, and she did a fine job of bringing Jack back! No one can put this piece back into its original condition, but the damage has been greatly minimized. Restoration of this sort is not an inexpensive proposition, but I felt this piece was well worth preserving for future years!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Denslow Scarecrows

In my last post, I showed a piece of original art by W. W. Denslow featuring the Scarecrow and Tin Man, from Denslow's 1904 comic page. Just a week and a half ago, a very rare original drawing from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was sold at Swann Galleries in New York. This is one of only a handful ever offered at auction - most of the original art from this book is in public collections. I would certainly have loved to add this piece to my own collection!

The illustration is from the opening of Chapter 4, and shows the Scarecrow being created by a Munchkin farmer. In the book, the drawing is printed primarily in light blue, with text covering part of the image.

Denslow drawings of Oz characters don't turn up very often, but the last two months have been surprising! Between this piece and the four that were offered at Bonham's in December, the Scarecrow has been a popular fellow -  those four pieces can be seen below:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Denslow's Scarecrow and Tin Man

In 1904, W. W. Denslow produced a comic page called Denslow's Scarecrow and the Tinman, which ran for 14 weeks. The strip showed the comic pair traveling to various places and encountering adventures, with mixed results. Two episodes were taken from his 1903 picture book of the same name, and the remaining 12 were new stories for the characters. Sadly the strip wasn't a great success, and it disappeared and faded from memory. Fortunately, some of the original comic page artwork survives, and when Bonham's auctioned a few pieces this past December, I was one of the happy winners. It isn't easy to find original Denslow art of this famous duo!

Denslow and L. Frank Baum owned a joint copyright on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, making it possible for either man to make use of the characters as he wished. They do pop up in several of Denslow's picture books, but I'm a little surprised that the artist didn't do more with them!

The original comic page art was cut into panels in the late 1950's by bookseller Charles Sawyer, in order to sell it more easily in his shop. Sawyer's bookstore in New York City was a favorite stop for early Oz collectors eager to find a piece of artwork, until the entire stock was bought up by one or two clients. Only one complete uncut page of artwork for the comic survives.

Sunday Press Books included all the episodes of this strip in their oversized compilation of Baum's Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic pages. These were running at the same time as Denslow's effort; I don't think either strip is Oz at its best, but they are fascinating examples of marketing for the series and the characters. The color page above, which includes the drawing in my collection, is from this book.

For a more affordable version of just the Denslow stories, Hungry Tiger Press also offers the comics in book format, with line artwork that has been cleaned up and printed in black & white - just like the original drawings!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Here's Tik-Tok!

Happy 2014! In honor of the 100th anniversary of the book Tik-Tok of Oz, here's the original artwork for a lovely portrait of the mechanical man himself, by John R. Neill.

Tik-Tok was first introduced by L. Frank Baum in 1907, in Ozma of Oz. The storyline of the 1914 Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz is very reminiscent of that earlier title, due to being adapted from a 1913 theatrical production which was largely based on the 1907 book. The show was reasonably successful in California, but never made it to Broadway. It did provide early work for two well known actors, Charlotte Greenwood and Charles Ruggles.

This particular drawing was used as the heading for chapter 19, King Kaliko. A number of the illustrations in Tik-Tok, including this onehad half-tone shading added in the printing process. On the drawing there are notations indicating that the figure was to be filled with dot pattern 433, and some light blue shading on the facets of the jewels showed that these were also to be toned. Sadly, the grey tone in the printed version tends to obscure the illustration, rather than enhance it. It's nice to see the drawing clearly for a change!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Once again, the Oz characters celebrate a holiday! Be sure to click the image for a larger view.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Stocking Series

Here is one of Reilly & Britton's special publications - the Christmas Stocking Series, packed in a cardboard Christmas trunk! This is a rather delicate item that doesn't turn up very often - especially with its lid! The books in the trunk are traditional titles such as Fairy Tales from Grimm, Fairy Tales from Anderson, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and The Night Before Christmas. But in this package we also find the much more recent stories of Little Black Sambo and Peter Rabbit - a pair of American piracies of newer English tales.

These six books have a rather tenuous connection to Baum - he contributed a preface with the history of the Christmas Stocking, used in each volume. The series was first published in 1905, and they seem to have been popular little books as they went through several printing states and styles of packaging. They were still being published when Reilly & Britton became Reilly & Lee in 1919.

The cardboard trunk is a whimsical addition, with its various labels for the Jack Frost Transfer Co. and Hollywreath Inn, etc. This particular set is from ca. 1913 when the trunk first appeared. When first printed, the books were available in a special little bookcase. Personally, I prefer the trunk!

Friday, December 6, 2013

An Oz Lamp

Quite some time ago - about 2 1/2 years in fact -  I blogged about the idea of combining a Tiffany Studios' Poppy lamp design with W. W. Denslow's characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I've always found the design of the flowers on the lamp pattern to be very reminiscent of Denslow's illustrations in the book. I've done it at long last, and here's the result.

The idea was to keep the characters on one side of the lamp, so it could be enjoyed as either a Tiffany Poppy, or as an Oz lamp. The idea works pretty well!

Here are the drowsy Lion and Dorothy, as well as the wide awake Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. Dorothy is based on an illustration from the deadly poppy field chapter of the book, while her companions are taken from the endpaper design for the second edition, published in 1903.

The other side of the lamp is the classic Tiffany Studios Poppy design, without any additions. The Poppy lamp was originally designed around 1900 by Clara Driscoll, who supervised the design of quite a few of the floral Tiffany shades. The base was made at our studio, in conjunction with a glass blower and bronze foundry, and is styled after a number of Tiffany glass bases.

This year has been a busy one for Oz-inspired glass - here's a preview of another upcoming project:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blown Away

Blown Away is an odd little book published in 1897, three years before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The interesting thing about it is that the heroines, two young girls named Beatrice and Jessie, are transported by cyclone to a strange land, where they meet a variety of unusual creatures and people. It was written by the well-known English actor Richard Mansfield, who spent a good deal of his later life in America, until his death in Connecticut in 1907; I wonder if L. Frank Baum, being involved in theater much of his life, ever met Mansfield?

The two men were contemporaries, Baum born in 1856 and Mansfield in 1857. Mansfield began his career performing Gilbert & Sullivan roles with the D'oyly Carte Opera Company. He gained renown for his role as the title character(s) in Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and became a highly praised Shakespearean actor.

Unfortunately, the book is not particularly good and, like so many of the period, owes a large debt to the Alice books of Lewis Carroll. If anyone cares to attempt it, the text can be read online here. The cleverest part is the wonderful Art Nouveau binding which, when opened flat, forms a nearly symmetrical image showing both girls being swept up in the wind!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

An Ozzy Thanksgiving story from 1904 - if you click on the image and expand it, you might almost be able to read it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Utopia Americana

Utopia Americana is the first critical study of the Oz books, published in 1929. It was written by Edward Wagenknecht, a professor at the University of Washington from 1925 to 1943, and published in chapbook form. This was ten years after Baum's death, but the series was still very popular, with Ruth Plumly Thompson working as the Royal Historian of Oz.

Wagenknecht was born in Chicago in 1900, the year Wonderful Wizard was published, and lived a long life, passing away in 2004. This study puts forward the importance of fantasy works, and argues that fairy tales are in fact the highest form of literature. While admitting that Baum's books are not necessarily the best written, they deserve attention as popular literature with a distinctly American flavor. There is so much inventiveness in the stories that they can't be ignored. The study ends with a letter Wagenknecht received from Baum in 1919, two months before the author's death.
Back in the late 70's, I happened to be in Seattle and visited the university bookstore. I was amazed to find a full shelf filled with multiple copies of hardcover, white edition Oz books; at the time, I had been struggling to assemble a set of Rand McNally paperbacks, and the series was not easy to find - certainly not in hardcover! Perhaps the association with Wagenknecht had a far-reaching effect...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Gun-Toting Scarecrow

A while back I posted an original publicity photo for the 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz, featuring Fred Stone and Dave Montgomery as the Scarecrow and Tin Man, with the Tin Man using a pistol to hold a stuffed bear at bay.

Apparently, the Tin Man wasn't the only one to threaten stuffed toys. Here's a magazine image showing the Scarecrow staring down the barrel of a rifle at another poor stuffed beast!

This picture was part of a 1911 article by Fred Stone, published in the Hampton Columbian magazine. The story was titled The Scarecrow's Polar Bear Hunt, and details a trip taken by Fred to the Arctic in order to hunt polar bears. Of course Fred didn't actually travel in his Scarecrow character, it was a straight-forward big game hunt. Although the story is written with a humorous edge, the actual hunt sounds rather brutal and repulsive to my taste - the full article can be read here.

The cover of the magazine featured a color photo of Stone in full Scarecrow costume with a shotgun. This is an image that I managed to more or less reconstruct from a very rough example offered in an auction on eBay some time ago.

Incidentally, on the subject of the Scarecrow and guns - don't forget that in the 1939 MGM film, the Scarecrow carries a revolver with him when heading to search for the Wicked Witch of the West!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Charles Livingston Bull

Animal Fairy Tales was a series of stories by L. Frank Baum, published in The Delineator magazine in 1905. In his stories, Baum introduced the concept of animal fairies, guardians of wildlife creatures. These tales were illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull, a prolific American artist who provided illustrations for many books by various authors, including works by Jack London, as well as posters and magazine pieces.

Baum had hoped to have a book version of the tales published, and worked to prepare the material as his health declined. However, this did not happen as he'd hoped. Reilly & Lee did publish one of the stories as a small book in the 1950's - Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies. Finally in 1969 the International Wizard of Oz Club published a book edition of the stories with new illustrations by Dick Martin - this book is available here at the club website. In 1992 Books of Wonder also published the tales, from the original magazine pages with the illustrations of Charles Livingston Bull.

Bull (1874 - 1932) was an excellent choice as illustrator for the series. He worked as a taxidermy apprentice at the age of 16, and went on to become chief taxidermist at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. Eventually he decided to pursue an illustration career, and was quite successful.The artist was well known for his atmospheric and decorative depictions of wildlife, both in monochrome and full color.

I don't know if any of the original art for the Animal Fairy Tales series survives. I've recently picked up a piece of the artist's work, unidentified as far as any publication is concerned. This is a typical example of the artist's monochromatic style.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


In 1904, John R. Neill was tapped to illustrate the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. Apparently he was busy with other projects at the time, and hesitated to accept the job - but fortunately, he had second thoughts. He would continue as official Oz illustrator until his death in 1943.

In 1900 L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow had scored a hit as author and illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but sadly that relationship had soured, due in part to disagreements over profits from the hit Broadway production of the book. In illustrating this second title, Neill deliberately used a simpler, bolder style of drawing to help transition from the well known illustrations of Denslow. His images are far more poster-like than his work in later Oz titles.

This is the original drawing for a color plate in the book, showing the creation of Jack Pumpkinhead by the boy Tip. This piece has suffered obvious damage over the past 100+ years, but it's currently being restored to a more stable state. Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence among vintage illustration art!

The Land of Oz was the only Oz title other than the Wizard that I read when I was quite young, and it's always held a special place for me in the series. Part of that was due to the wonderful and plentiful illustrations in the book - they really gave me a sense of what Oz was, and looked like. Consequently, I'm thrilled to have a piece from the book!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Russian Postcards

A while back, I posted a Russian Oz postcard showing Strasheela, the Scarecrow. Since then, I've gradually managed to get what appears to be an entire set of 16 cards, which follow the Russian version of the story of The Wizard of Oz. The set was originally sold in an illustrated folder, which I found through Wonderful Books of Oz - Cindy also currently has several of the individual cards available. Be sure to click on the image for a better view of the cards!
The cards appear to have been issued in two styles - with an overall amber tone, and a lighter, brighter version. According to the Russian seller, the amber variety are from 1956, while the brighter versions are from 1962. In the set I have pictured above, the Emerald City card (#12) is of the brighter variety - it's quite a difference!

*After posting the above, I learned a bit more from David Maxine about this series. It seems more likely that the varying colors of the cards may be due to an aging varnish finish on the cards, rather than different printing choices and dates. Also, the 1956 date doesn't seem likely as these illustrations weren't used until 1959!*