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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Denslow's Mother Goose

Here's another wonderful piece that doesn't belong to me, although I have seen it in person. The photo is from an auction house listing from quite a while ago - I'm afraid I've forgotten which one!

This is a clockwork display for Denslow's Mother Goose. It is wound with a key, and the head nods while the beak opens and closes. It dates from around 1901, the year that W. W. Denslow's book was published.

I saw this at a New York Book Fair several years ago, in Justin Schiller's booth. It's a very unique piece, believed to have originated at a Chicago department store. It's the only one of its kind known, and really a lot of fun! I like to think of this as an interesting precursor to L. Frank Baum's clockwork man, Tik-Tok - even though there's no real connection between the two.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Graham Rawle

Friday night was the opening of the local exhibition of Graham Rawle's illustrations for The Wizard of Oz. The show is being held at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and features large prints of various illustrations from the book. Some of the images are over six feet wide, and are very impressive at that size! The prints were produced at the college, and unfortunately the show will not be traveling.

Oz Club member Jane Albright flew in for the opening, and club founding member Ruth Berman also attended. Graham Rawle signed books and was generally available to wander through the gallery and answer questions - it was a very fun time. Limited edition prints were available of four different scenes from the book, and four small pinback buttons were handed out. These feature Toto in the poppy field, Mr Joker from the Dainty China Country, a Quadling Guard, and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers from the Emerald City.

The gallery certainly got into the spirit of things by assembling a refresh- ment table of cupcakes that looked like the poppy field with a tall tornado traveling through. A plexi case held the actual figures of the main characters from the story - Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion and Wicked Witch of the West. Another case held some of the various tiny beaded flowers which were made by Graham's wife and used in the landscapes; it was a unique opportunity to see the small scale of the original pieces in comparison to the large photo illustrations on the walls.

The exhibit is on display until June 28th. If anyone happens to be in the area, I recommend it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

General Jinjur

This illustration from The Marvelous Land of Oz has always been one of my favorites. I would love to see the original if it still exists!

Here we see General Jinjur and her army of revolting girls (typical Baum pun!) conquering the Emerald City. Their glee is unmistakable as they set off to pry all the emeralds loose from their settings, and the chaos of the moment is nicely captured (including one poor girl in the far background who seems to have been flipped over with her feet in the air!) This drawing made me feel I had a real sense of what the Emerald City looked like, with the gate tower and the double stair, and the cluster of houses inside the city wall.

I've always liked General Jinjur. L. Frank Baum created an interesting mix of chorus girl and women's rights advocate in this character. She was clearly designed for presentation on the stage, and Baum shows his eye for theatrical dressing in his description of the multicolored uniform for Jinjur's army. I was always disappointed that she was only shown in one color plate in the book. A similarly gaudy dress is seen in Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls, for the patriotic Liberty Girls organization.

Although Jinjur is a satire, her avowed goal of setting a woman on the throne of the Emerald City does happen - except the new ruler is Ozma rather than herself. Her few appearances in later books show that she maintains her independent spirit, even if she's never the Queen she intended to be.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Graham Rawle Exhibition

I just ran across this, a little late but still in plenty of time to attend. An exhibition at my alma mater of Graham Rawle's artwork for The Wizard of Oz - this should be fun!


April 7, 2009
MCAD Gallery | Minneapolis College of Art and Design
May 22–June 28, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS—Explore the extraordinary imagination of acclaimed British artist and author Graham Rawle in the dazzling exhibition THE WIZARD OF OZ: ACCORDING TO GRAHAM RAWLE, opening Friday, May 22 in MCAD Gallery.
Inspired by his vividly re-imagined retelling of L. Frank Baum's original classic The Wizard of Oz (Counterpoint Press, 2008), this exhibition lifts Rawle's breathtaking illustrations from the printed page, presenting them in large scale for the first time anywhere.
Using handcrafted miniature sets, carved sculptures, found objects and other unusual materials (such as Pringles cans and spraypainted asparagus), Rawle's dynamic and oftentimes surreal illustrations include original characters and scenes that will be revelatory to those who are more familiar with the cinema classic.
Rawle's illustrations will amaze children and adults alike. They're endearing yet edgy, delightful yet dark—the same qualities found in only the most treasured and iconic children's fiction. THE WIZARD OF OZ: ACCORDING TO GRAHAM RAWLE is not to be missed!

Meet Graham Rawle in person!

Graham Rawle will join us from London to celebrate the opening of this remarkable exhibition on Friday, May 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. in MCAD's Main Gallery, located on the first floor of MCAD's Main Building. Copies of The Wizard of Oz will be available for purchase and signing by the artist at this event. Don't miss this rare opportunity to meet the artist and get up-close to his work!
Want a sneak peek?
Visit www.mcad.edu/oz for a gallery of some of the amazing images featured in the exhibition, along with a link to Graham Rawle's Web site and a specially animated short film that brings the book's characters to life.

Praise for The Wizard of Oz, illustrated by Graham Rawle

"[Rawle's] illustrations are vivid constructs that come alive in the strangest ways."
— The Los Angeles Times
"Rawle's freakingly cool images definitely [have] me wanting more. ... Trippy stuff."
— Cinematical

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Today I'm showing something that is not in my collection, although it's some- thing I'd love to have!

This is an example of an early Oz toy, called a Phono-Movie. The concept is simple: a gadget attaches to a phonograph, with a jointed figure which dances to the music as the record rotates. In this particular case, two figures were included: a stereotypical African-American character, and the Scarecrow of Oz! The box states that the toy was patented in 1919, which was during one of the heights of Oz popularity — but I suppose this version with the Scarecrow figure could be from a later date. These pictures are from an old eBay auction, and I've also seen the toy listed in a book on vintage phonographs and related accessories.

This might be a project that L. Frank Baum's eldest son Frank was involved with. Frank Baum did try to capitalize on his father's creations, but didn't seem to have much luck. His Oz Doll & Toy Manufacturing Company didn't succeed with a line of Oz dolls. Oz toys just don't seem to have caught on with the public; an earlier toy Woozy character produced by the family also failed.