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

Friday, July 24, 2009


I've just picked up a vintage wallpaper catalog for San-Kro- Mura brand wallpapers. I'm guessing the name San-Kro-Mura refers to sanitary, chromatic and mural - colorful mural papers with a sanitary surface (easy to wipe clean). Anyway, the catalog is interesting because it includes an image of one of the panels from the Wizard of Oz paper designed by W. W. Denslow. The catalog only shows a small picture in black & white, but it's a fun reminder of the popularity of the story in the early 20th century - long before the MGM film! In this case, there was a set of six panels, featuring characters drawn by Denslow, relating to the 1903 Broadway musical. A set of verses beneath the drawings sum up the show. This paper was probably designed around the time of that success, although this catalog is from considerably later - it refers to the artist as the "late W. W. Denzlow" (mispelling his name with a Z). Denslow died in 1915, but this catalog could be from as late as the 1920's - there is no date indicated.

The other papers shown in the catalog are also interesting. Among the nursery designs on the same page as the Oz paper are two examples taken from The Rhyme of a Run, a children's book written and illustrated by Florence Harrison, and published in 1907. The Oz paper was probably intended to be used as a frieze around a room, or as individually framed panels. I suppose the individual characters could also have been cut out and used as appliques over another paper.

Artistic wallpapering of the period seems to have involved a lot of steps, dealing with multiple borders and hand cutting details and appliques out of larger sheets to get effects like a pergola with blooming vines, or a tapestry hung on the wall. In order to apply appliques to the first layer of paper, the book recommends adding a cup of black molasses to the wallpaper paste! Having never dealt with wallpaper, I think I'll stick to paint.

Friday, July 17, 2009


This is a bit off topic as it has nothing to do with Oz, but I found it fascinating. Last night I went to an exhibit of paintings by William Holman Hunt (Victorian Pre-Raphaelite painter) and others of his circle, at the Institute of Arts. Among the paintings on display was a small panel by Arthur Hughes called Lady with the Lilacs, which had originally been in the collection of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).

I was immediately struck by how similar the girl in the painting was to Dodgson's own illustrations for Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the precursor to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I remember having once read that the author had a painting by Hughes in his collection that he possibly referred to when preparing his illustrations, but it was very fun to see the piece in question in person!

The painting was received in October, 1863, and Dodgson finished his illustrations in September, 1864. He didn't base his drawings of Alice on Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the book, but it certainly looks like he may have based them on this painting.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Along the Bosphorus

Last weekend was our local annual book fair. This was the 19th year, and I've attended every one - and I've managed to find a number of items over the years. There was a good amount of Oz related material this year, particularly a number of later reprints in dust jackets.

Here I'm showing a copy of Along the Bosphorus, which is yet another example of a Rand McNally cover design by W. W. Denslow. This is a much more delicate design than some of his other covers, and really gives an excellent sense of moonlight on the water. This copy doesn't bear his seahorse signature. The book is a collection of pieces written by Susan Wallace, the wife of Lew Wallace; he was a general in the Civil War, and the author of Ben-Hur. He was also U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire in the 1880s. Susan Wallace was an author of a few books as well, and several of the pieces in this book relate to this time period.

It's interesting to compare this cover to another title from 1898, A Cruise Along the Crescent. Both are set in exotic locales, and the covers have many similarities. Along the Bosphorus is more refined, but the same crescent moon and turrets can be seen in both examples. I think the exotic architecture brings to mind Denslow's illustrations of the Emerald City.