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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New York Public Library

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across the New York Public Library's online Digital Gallery. This is a great site for a number of reasons, but what I was excited to find were good quality scans of original artwork by W. W. Denslow for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

I knew that many of the original drawings were in one of the print collections of the library, but I didn't realize they were so easily accessible online. And - you can order prints, note cards, tote bags, coffee mugs or ornaments of any of the images!

I ended up trying a coffee mug of one of the drawings, the Deadly Poppy Field chapter title page, and a print of a rare poster drawn by Denslow for Father Goose, His Book. I was surprised that the color of the background on the poster I received is quite a bit browner than the digital image I'm showing, but it is nicely printed. The coffee cup would benefit from having the image centered on the cup rather than on one side - or, by offering the choice of placing 2 images on the cup. Still, it's a fun idea to play with.

There are several Denslow posters in the collection, including a few for Rand McNally books with Denslow covers - I've featured several of the titles in earlier blog entries. To view pieces, go to the link below and enter Denslow in the search box.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

1903 Wizard

When The Wizard of Oz is mentioned, most people immediately think of the 1939 MGM movie starring Judy Garland. However, if you were to go back in time to before that film was made, many people would fondly remember the story as a successful stage musical extravaganza bearing little resemblance to the book by L. Frank Baum.

The stage Wizard opened in Chicago in 1902, and traveled to Broadway in 1903 where it was a smash hit and inspired further fantasy extravaganzas, like Babes in Toyland. The show was well publicized and documented with postcards, posters, sheet music, souvenirs and photos. And, I just realized it opened 106 years ago yesterday!

Here I have a songbook that was published featuring a few hits written for the show as well as other popular numbers. The main score was written by Paul Tietjens, with L. Frank Baum contributing lyrics to the musical numbers. In the course of the run of the show, many different songs by a variety of people were interpolated into the story.

The show was a popular success that toured the country and returned to New York several times in the first decade of the 1900s. David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press has produced a 2 disc CD set featuring vintage recordings of music from the show, as well as a single disc featuring music from The Wizard and other Baum musicals. http://www.hungrytigerpress.com/audio/

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Collector's Guide

For years, the bible for Oz collecting has been Bibliographia Oziana. This book, which is available from the International Wizard of Oz Club, is still the best guide to identifying early editions of the Oz books, and learning important publication points. Copies may be ordered from the club website: http://ozclub.org/Home_Again.html

I'm very excited about a new book to be published next month called The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum & Oz. This book is written by Paul Bienvenue and Robert Schmidt, and will feature all of Baum's published titles, as well as later Oz titles and related pieces, with variations and rarities all in color images.
This volume has been in the works for some time – in fact I contributed several pictures 6 years ago or so. I'm curious to see what may have been used.

Copies may be ordered online from Paul's shop, March Hare Books: http://www.marchharebooks.com/?page=shop/disp&pid=page_BaumandOzPg

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another Postcard

Here is another Halloween postcard I've run across that takes inspiration from an Oz illustration. My blog entry for October 31st of 2008 featured a postcard that adapted a John R. Neill illustration for holiday use. This time an unidentified artist has been inspired by W. W. Denslow, rather than Neill.

The pose of the scarecrow is clearly based on Denslow's illustration of the Scarecrow being attacked by the Wicked Witch of the West's crows. Rather than copying the image precisely, the artist has made a number of changes to the scarecrow figure. However, the pose is too similar to be coincidental — also, the crow on the postcard is identical to the second crow above the Scarecrow's head in Denslow's drawing!

I found this image on the internet and don't currently own a copy of this card. It was manufactured by the Metropolitan News Company and dates from around 1907 - 1915.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Darby O'Gill

Happy New Year!

John R. Neill provided a lovely frontispiece illustration for Reilly & Britton's 1915 edition of Darby O'Gill and the Good People. This book was first published in 1903 by McClure, Phillips and Co., and a later edition was published by Reilly & Lee. This Reilly & Britton printing seems to be a bit unusual, as I could currently find no listings for other copies.

Neill's frontispiece is the only illustration in the book, which is unfortunate. This collection of Irish tales would have been right up his alley for inspired imagery. The book was the basis for Walt Disney's 1959 movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

The book was written in 1903 by Hermione Templeton, who remarried in 1905 and became Hermione Templeton Kavanagh.