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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Theater Postcards

A number of postcards were produced as souvenirs - and advertising - for the 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz. I showed one several posts ago, featuring Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, and here are two more, featuring the Poppy scene.
The Poppy Field was one of the highlights of the show, and the finale of Act One. In the tinted color postcard, we see (from the left) Sir Dashemoff Daily (the Poet Laureate) and Dorothy meeting up with another group of characters - Pastoria (the exiled King of Oz), his fiancee Tryxie Tryfle, the Lion, and Imogene the cow. They are disguised as a one ring circus! As you can see, there are a number of characters in the show that are unfamiliar to fans of the book or the movie. The Poppies were portrayed by chorus girls, with large flower hats, who sang and swayed as their scent overpowered the travelers.
 In the second postcard, the Snow Queen is seen and the Poppy Field has been destroyed by snow - a device that was re-used in the 1939 MGM film. On stage this was achieved in a transformation scene, a quick change from the live poppy field to the frozen flowers.
The "handwritten" inscription on the color postcard was actually printed as part of the card - I've seen it on at least one other example, beneath a different image. A bit of advertising for the show!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Golden Variant

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz seems to have gone through more variations in appearance than most of the other Oz books.  I think the most interesting change occurred in the mid 1920's, when some copies of the book were once again bound with a golden label. The copy I'm showing has a Christmas inscription to Winston Powers, reading "Friday, December 25 1925 - from Daddy and Mother". I always enjoy seeing vintage gift inscriptions!

The book was originally published by Reilly & Britton in 1908, with a lavish metallic gold background on the cover label, and a silver vignette of the Tin Woodman on the spine. The silver was the first thing to go, and within a few years, the gold on the label was replaced with a plain yellow background. The stamping of the publisher's name on the spine varies throughout the printing history. Eventually, after the publisher's name changed to Reilly & Lee, the figure of Dorothy was replaced by the words "Popular Edition" which were later dropped from the label leaving the Wizard on his own. Different vignettes are found on the spine, a special slightly smaller format was published for Sears, and finally new cover designs were developed. Below, I show a few of the many variations - there are more!

By the mid 1920's, it wasn't likely that Reilly & Lee would suddenly revive printing the more costly and elaborate label. It seems likely to me that someone simply turned up a supply of the original labels at the bindery and decided to make use of them!