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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nieces at Work

One of the stranger changes - at least to me - made by Reilly & Britton to a book cover, happened to Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work, written by L. Frank Baum under his pseudonym of Edith Van Dyne. This was published in 1909, but for some reason the blue fabric with stars, as well as the shield with stars and stripes, was dropped from the cover in later printings - at least, the copy from 1912 that I'm showing on the right. This required the re-drawing of the lower portion of the cover image. Perhaps the publishers felt the original cover looked a little too political for a book for young girls? The story involves the nieces helping out in a friend's political campaign, so that reason wouldn't make much sense.

At any rate, I think the stories in these books are still very enjoyable!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Rinkitink in Oz was the last of the L. Frank Baum books that I read as a kid. Maybe this is why it never felt as much a part of the series to me. Of course, the other reason might be that it only nominally takes place in Oz. The book was actually written much earlier in Baum's career as King Rinkitink. This was never published, and eventually he dusted it off and made some adjustments and published it as Rinkitink in Oz.

The interesting thing about this is that King Rinkitink was written before Ozma of Oz. Baum seems to have borrowed heavily from the unused plot for the plot of Ozma. Then, after the success of the stage version of The Wizard of Oz, Baum was determined to exploit his books and turn them into stage extravaganzas. His adaptation of The Land of Oz, called The Wogglebug, was a flop. Ozma of Oz was written and re-written and eventually became The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, and was reasonably successful. This show formed the basis for the book Tik-Tok of Oz. So, between Ozma, Tik-Tok, and Rinkitink, Baum pulled three books out of the same story - not to mention a stage production! I think that's doing pretty well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Aunt Jane's Nieces

The Aunt Jane's Nieces series was written by L. Frank Baum under the pseudonym of Edith Van Dyne - the same name he used for the Flying Girl and Mary Louise series. Baum wrote 10 books about the nieces, and this series for teens was as popular in its day as the Oz books.

Reilly & Britton experimented with a couple formats before settling on a look for the books. The first title had a rather severe binding, with very little ornamentation. With the second title, a larger format was tried, with a floral design and more extensive gilt stamping - I personally like this format, it gives the book a bit more presence. Finally, a simpler cover was used in tan cloth with no gilt stamping. This style won out, and first editions of the remaining titles in the series were published this way. Below, I show the rest of the titles - three in dustjackets.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some More Nip & Tuck

Here are a couple more Nip & Tuck similarities to Oz. The first image shows Nip & Tuck visiting the wife of Peter Pumpkin Eater in her pumpkin shell. The second is John R. Neill's drawing of Dorothy, Button Bright and friends visiting Jack Pumpkinhead in his pumpkin house from The Road to Oz. There are a number of differences here, but something about the way Dingleberry and Toto are both looking in at the door is pretty cute.

Another amusing (and slightly disturbing!) image below shows a set of piglets that look very familiar - here we see eleven, but they certainly look like they're related to the nine tiny piglets from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (shown on the right).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Queen Ann

Here's Queen Ann of Oogaboo, another drawing by John R. Neill from Tik-Tok of Oz. Queen Ann sets out to conquer the world, but she doesn't get very far - in fact, her stint in the Nome Kingdom ends her ambitions.

This drawing is another chapter heading, this time from Chapter 21, on page 221 of the book. Poor Ann is a sorry sight after wandering lost in the Nome King's caverns!

One of the great things about original Neill pieces is the scale of the drawings, compared to their printed counterparts. Some artists work at a scale of 1:1, but Neill always seems to have gone large, making his drawings much more impressive in person. Here's an image to give a sense of the size difference between this drawing and the book illustration.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Laura Bancroft

L. Frank Baum wrote many books under pseudonyms. Under the name Laura Bancroft, he wrote the Twinkle Tales, a set of six small books with stories based in "Nature-Fairyland". I only have one of these individual volumes, Prince Mudturtle, but I do have Twinkle and Chubbins which is all six stories in one volume - yet another way for Reilly & Britton to reprint existing work in a new format.

Another book by Laura Bancroft, featuring the same characters, was Policeman Bluejay. This is a longer book that otherwise follows the same story format as the Twinkle Tales. This book would be reprinted under a new title, Babes in Birdland, and would eventually drop the Bancroft name and be published under Baum's own name. It's no wonder collecting Baum books can be confusing!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Del Rey Scarecrow

For The Scarecrow of Oz, Michael Herring broke away from his earlier practice of repeating a John R. Neill illustration as a full fledged painting. Here he has taken a moment in the book which Neill did illustrate, but has fleshed it out into a much more complete image.

The Scarecrow, Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Button Bright flying out of Jinxland on the backs of Orks (not the Lord of the Rings variety) was pictured by Neill, but in a very simple manner. Here we see a more dramatic image of the characters set against one of Herring's lovely skies.

They are supposed to be flying on a fine moonlit night into the Quadling country, although it almost appears to be mid-day in the painting - the moon must have been very bright! The red trees are correct for the Quadlings, but the ground seems rather lavender, more of what I would expect for the Gillikin country - but maybe that's the moonlight. Aside from these quibbles, it's a lovely image.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Banishment of Ruggedo

Here's the Nome King at a pivotal point in his career as Oz villain - he's about to be banished from his kingdom by some enchanted eggs. I think this is a wonderful image of Ruggedo. This drawing by John R. Neill is from Tik-Tok of Oz, and was printed as a full page illustration in Chapter 18, page 201.

I have another drawing with a bit of the Nome King - and a bit of Tik-Tok himself. Here's Tik-Tok treading on the toes of the King - not something that would go over well. This drawing was used on page 166 and has a couple printer's notes regarding size for the finished illustration.

I think this demonstrates the sense of fun that Neill managed to convey with his Oz illustrations - this doesn't illustrate any specific incident in the book, but is very appropriate for the characters!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Scarecrow of Oz

The Scarecrow of Oz, from 1915, settled the format of the Oz books for the next 20 years or so - color plate cover, matching dustjacket, 12 interior color plates, black & white endpapers. This book, like The Patchwork Girl, was also promoted with a cut-out advertising card. The back of the card has a publishers blurb, and lists the Oz books up to this title. Along with the card, there was a Scarecrow pinback button, bearing the same image. So far I haven't managed to acquire a button, but I know they're out there!

This book brought the main characters from The Sea Fairies and Sky Island to Oz, helping to pull L. Frank Baum's fantasy world together into a whole.

The story was based on a film plot Baum had written for the Oz Film Manufacturing Co, another theatrical enterprise he was involved in that was not successful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kindergarten Shoes Revisited

This past weekend I attended the first local large antique show of the season - as I've mentioned in the past, I've found these to be good sources for Oz-related items. In one of those strange little coincidences that happen, I ran across a boxed pair of Kindergarten Shoes! I was not aware of these shoes or the postcards connected to them before they were brought to my attention in an earlier posting.

This particular box uses what I will call the "adaptation" of Denslow's Baa Baa Black Sheep. There is the same "F. F." signature under the verse, and in this case the sheep appears to be a pretty direct copy of the Denslow animal. The boy, while in the same pose, has been completely turned to face away from the viewer. The more I view these, the more I'm convinced Denslow was not involved in their creation. The lack of any signature, or attribution to Denslow makes it very unlikely - he doesn't strike me as one to let a chance for self-promotion slip by.

According to the top of the box, "seven designs, of which this is one, in postecard (sic) style, will be mailed, upon receipt of 2 two-cent postage stamps. Smith-Wallace Shoe Co., Chicago". I find it interesting that seven cards were done, rather than six or eight. I tend to think of sets in even numbers.

I've posted the original W. W. Denslow image from Denslow's Mother Goose below for comparison.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lovely Ladies of Light

This drawing from Tik-Tok of Oz was used as the heading for Chapter 12, page 129. Here, John R. Neill has pictured the handmaidens of Erma, Queen of Light. Starting at the top left and moving clockwise, they are: Moonlight, Starlight, Firelight, Daylight, Electra, and Sunlight. Each flame holds the symbol of their particular type of light - although Daylight seems to be empty. But how do you draw daylight?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Egyptian Inspiration

Here are a couple covers by W. W. Denslow with an Egyptian theme.

The first is Enoch the Philistine, which gives us a rather religious explanation of the building of the Great Pyramid.

The second is In the Shadow of the Pyramids. I have attempted to read this book, but so far have been unable to finish it. Through what I can only assume is very poor editing, practically every sentence ends in an exclamation mark! It's very difficult to read something written that way! Especially when the text has nothing exclamatory about it! You get the idea! I've never read anything else by Savage, so I don't know if this is a style he pioneered, or if it was simply accidental. At any rate, I find it unreadable.

The two covers make an interesting contrast with each other - Enoch plays with emblems and design elements much more than Shadow, which has a very atmospheric image. Both covers bear the seahorse signature. Incidentally, Denslow also used an Egyptian idea in one of his final published pieces, a cover for the old Life magazine in 1915.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Erma, Queen of Light

This drawing from Tik-Tok of Oz shows Erma, the Queen of Light introducing herself to Betsy Bobbin. It's a nice example of John R. Neill's "lovely lady" style. Admittedly, many of his princesses, queens and girls could be interchangeable - this might easily be Glinda with Dorothy - but somehow, that quality helped to link the books together for me when I read them as a kid.

The hands in Neill's drawings fascinate me - they are very simple but also very eloquent. The same is true of the feather in Erma's hat. He was a master of the pen line.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Covers

Some of my favorite W. W. Denslow covers for Rand McNally have a definite bizarre quality. The best example that I have for this, in my opinion, is Devil's Dice. My partner collects work by Edward Gorey, and I like to think this particular title makes a nice sort of bridge between collections - no particular resemblance, just something about the skeletal bride.

Another fun cover is The King of the Mountains. Here again, Denslow has created a slightly macabre design. This particular copy is not in the best condition, and one of these days I hope to find a better one. Incidentally, this is another example of a later printing that has dropped the Denslow seahorse signature from the cover.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Children's Theatre Oz

In 1981, the Minneapolis Children's Theater Company produced an elaborate musical adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz. I was in college at the time, and worked as an usher at the theater. This was the final show of the season, and I was very interested in seeing what would be done with it. I attended many rehearsals, and found it fascinating to see the show come together.

In my enthusiasm, I suggested that it might make an interesting lobby display to gather several first editions of the Oz books. I had a couple of my own by that point, but not enough for a display. I knew that the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota had a large collection of early and first editions, and I was put in touch with Karen Hoyle, director of the Kerlan. She was willing to lend several books, and a tradition was started. For years afterward, the Kerlan lent various editions of books pertaining to the shows being produced at CTC.

The show itself was a remarkably faithful adaptation of the second Oz book. This became the first show at the theater to be videotaped and made available for sale. A couple interesting trivia points about the production - originally a girl was cast to play Ozma at the end of the show, but the director, John Donahue, nixed her in favor of having Tip play the role in drag. Also, for part of the run as well as the video production, one of the members of the women's Army of Revolt was played by a man - see if you can find him!

I used to have two of the Emerald City hats used in the show, but I gave them to my nieces and they are now long gone....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I was asked if I would post a photo of the complete Sky Island dustjacket, so here it is. I didn't include the front and rear flaps, which are both blank. As you can see, this jacket is rough with a large chunk missing from the center of the spine. I've laid in a reproduction of the missing material. Even in this condition, I'm very happy to have this! Incidentally, there are reproductions of this dustjacket out there - so be cautious.

Dustjackets on children's books are ephemeral things - they are torn, discarded, used as book marks, anything you can think of, and generally don't survive - especially when you are dealing with 100 year old books. This is particularly true of the Oz books, which tended to be well-loved by their owners and read into rags. Also, the books had lovely covers under the jackets, so why keep the flimsy paper covering? After all, the main goal was to protect the book until it was sold.

When I started collecting the Oz books, my main interest was first state copies of the L. Frank Baum titles. (I still don't have first states of the first two books, but one of these days....) Of course, eventually I realized that I wanted the entire series, and once I worked through that, it was time for dustjackets.

Obviously, the earlier books are the more difficult to find this way. In some cases, there is only one copy known with its original jacket. I'm not too likely to ever have those copies - but there's always the chance of finding another. It's exciting for me to see a book in a Reilly & Britton dustjacket, even if it isn't a first state. There just aren't that many out there!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Betsy Bobbin

Here we have Betsy Bobbin and her friend Hank the Mule struggling through the ocean after falling off a ship during a storm at sea. If this sounds familiar, it's because the same thing happened to Dorothy and Billina the Hen at the beginning of Ozma of Oz. In fact, Tik-Tok of Oz is basically a reworking of Ozma, with many plot similarities. L. Frank Baum was never one to let a good story idea die.

John R. Neill's drawing captures the drama and excitement of the moment. This drawing was used for the heading of Chapter 4, page 39. I have another little drawing of Hank the Mule from page 119. He doesn't appear much happier here than he does in the sea! This drawing also has some printers notes, as well as a crop mark at the bottom of the image - Hank's neck was shortened slightly for printing purposes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Eleanor Boardman

Eleanor Boardman was a silent film star of the 1920's, who was married to director King Vidor - who worked on the MGM Wizard of Oz. (They divorced several years before the movie was made). However, she has a much closer Oz connection. She was born in 1898 in Philadelphia, which was also the birthplace of W. W. Denslow, and John R. Neill. She gained some recognition at the age of 15, modeling as The Kodak Girl before entering films in 1922, but for Oz collectors she is best known as the model for Betsy Bobbin on the cover of Tik-Tok of Oz. I believe Peter Hanff learned of this connection when he met her daughter in California some years ago.

Tik-Tok was pubished in 1914, which would have made Eleanor about 16 years old at the time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flying Girls

The early 1900's saw a huge fascination with the newly possible airplane. L. Frank Baum wasn't one to let a new scientific discovery on such a scale slip past him, and wrote 2 young adult novels based on the technology. These were published under his pseudonym of Edith Van Dyne. A third story was planned, but never published.

These books fall in line with other flying novels published by Reilly & Britton, such as the Airship Boys series, the Boy Scouts of the Air series, and the Aeroplane Boys series. Baum added a different element by making his pilot a girl, a reflection of the female pilots who were well known at the time.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Tik-Tok of Oz marks the end of what I'd call the lavish Oz books - after this title, the books fell into a regular pattern with no new surprises like stamped covers, metallic inks or color throughout. This was the last Oz book to have a cover plate from a finished John R. Neill watercolor, and the last to have color endpapers. Apparently, Reilly & Britton had intended this title to have another wrap-around dustjacket, as the artwork for that survives, but this was dropped in favor of repeating the cover plate - I'd assume it was a less expensive alternative.

This book has the famous color endpapers featuring a map of Oz in front, and a map of the lands surrounding Oz in the back. Many inconsistencies have been found with these maps, not least of which are the reversal of east and west on the compass points. This has lead to a lot of discussion as to what Baum may have intended with his various fantasies.

I've always been intrigued by the 3rd state of Tik-Tok from 1918 - in this volume, the endpaper maps are printed in green rather than full color. That's the last time they are used in the book. I've never quite understood why the maps were dropped - once color endpapers were no longer in use, they could easily have been printed in black & white.

Much of the artwork for this book survives - in fact, I think Patchwork Girl and Tik-Tok are the two Baum books with the most Neill artwork around.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kindergarten Shoes

A couple days ago, in the comments on the Mother Goose plates I pictured, there was a question about a series of postcards for Kindergarten Shoes. I had never heard of these cards, but did some searching on the web and turned up an image of one (shown at right) - it's very interesting.

This is clearly based on the W. W. Denslow image from Mother Goose, but I don't think it is a Denslow card. There is a signature of F. F. beneath the verse, which I would assume is the artist's signature. Also, the drawing just doesn't show quite the same level of skill as the Denslow. My personal thought is that if a card was going to be issued, it would use the same image as the book - of course, I could be completely wrong!

I was glad to have these cards pointed out - it's always fun to see something new. This does help to reinforce how popular Denslow's work was at the time - he spawned many imitators.

Denslow did do a number of postcards - I only have one, which I've pictured, from his Thanksgiving Humor series.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


The first piece of Oz art by John R. Neill that I purchased was this drawing of Polychrome, from Tik-Tok of Oz. The drawing came from Books of Wonder in New York City, years ago, and in an earlier life had been in the collection of Justin Schiller. As always, it's amazing to see the finesse of the original artwork, something that was often lost when the pieces were reduced in size and printed on pulpy paper.

This drawing was used over the title of chapter seven in the book. In the final printed version, the hand-lettered caption was dropped in favor of a typeset title. This is the only chapter drawing I am aware of that has the hand-lettered title. Even as a kid, I thought the alliteration in the chapter titles was a bit of a gimmick - Polychrome's Pitiful Plight, Betsy Braves the Billows, Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task.....but it is kind of cute.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Little Wizard Stories

The Little Wizard Series was a set of six small books written by L. Frank Baum, and published at the same time as The Patchwork Girl of Oz, to help increase interest in the newly revived Oz series. These six books were then published in a single volume as the Little Wizard Stories of Oz. Unfortunately, the individual cover illustrations were not used within the combined version.

These original printings are difficult to find in decent shape. The paper covered boards and spine did not hold up to much wear and tear. But in spite of that, I think the format is enjoyable - similar to a Little Golden Book. The stories are pretty simple, aimed at a younger audience than the full size Oz books.

Four of these small books were reprinted in softcover in 1932 as part of a set of jig-saw puzzles, and again in 1934 as a Jell-O promotion. In 1939, Rand McNally reprinted the entire series, two to a volume, in the same format as their Oz Junior Editions.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Little Journeys of Nip & Tuck

In 1909/1910, John R Neill worked on a Sunday comic page called The Little Journeys of Nip & Tuck. This strip was written by William Bradford, and ran from March 7, 1909 to February 27, 1910, first as a full-color full-page, then as a 2-color half-sheet. The writing consisted of simple rhymes, many of them dealing with Mother Goose characters the children meet on their journeys. The rhymes are pretty forgettable, but Neill brings his typical whimsey to the illustrations. These pages have a simplicity and elegant sparseness that seems unusual for the time.

Tuck looks remarkably like Dorothy, and I think Nip looks like her cousin Zeb from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. And Dingleberry the dog is the same as Neill's first concept of Toto. Incidentally, Neill had a small bulldog named Dingleberry. It's also interesting to go through the comic pages and find other examples of images that seem strongly influenced by work Neill did on Baum's books.

A good example is below - on the left, a color plate from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and below, a panel from Nip & Tuck.