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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
.......from the gang!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Having done two fabric figures and two wooden figures, I decided it's time to try metal! Actually, Tik-Tok has fallen together more easily than I expected although I'll admit to cheating - he's brass, not copper. But with a little patina work, he's pretty convincing...

He's mostly made from a variety of lamp parts, along with some additional material. He has his winding key, and three winding spots - one under each arm and the middle of the back. Unfortunately, he doesn't actually wind up... Oh well - we'll have to call in Smith and Tinker for that!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dorothy Doll?

 The other day, I happened to think of a photo I'd seen in the digital gallery of the New York Public Library website. This image shows Anna Laughlin, who played Dorothy in the original 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz, seated and holding a doll version of herself.

I can't help wondering whether these dolls were ever made available to the public? It would seem to be a likely souvenir to sell in the theater lobby wherever the show was playing. I've never heard of any, but wouldn't that be something fun to run across!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Knave of Hearts

While doing some Christmas shopping, I ran across a lovely new facsimile edition of The Knave of Hearts, by Louise Saunders, with the beautiful illustrations by Maxfield Parrish. This is published by Calla Books, and they've done a very nice job of it - the book is a large hardcover, the same scale as the original 1925 edition, and printed on heavyweight paper. The front cover has a color pastedown, like the original, and the overall effect is very impressive!

The printing quality of the illustrations is not quite as high as the first edition, as they haven't been reproduced from the original paintings, but they are all there in full color. Interestingly, a couple seem to have been reproduced from House of Art prints, rather than book illustrations - these are some of Parrish's best known book illustrations, and several were popular as art prints in their own right.

Maxfield Parrish illustrated L. Frank Baum's first published book for children, Mother Goose in Prose. It might have been interesting had he continued on and illustrated the Oz series - the books would have had quite a different look, I think! Now if someone would publish a full size facsimile of Mother Goose.....

The book is available on Amazon.com, and makes a fine gift for any Parrish lover!

Monday, December 6, 2010


I'm afraid my postings have been pretty sparse lately, but it's easy to chalk that up to the busy time of year!

Here's Jack Pumpkin- head and the Saw- horse, complet- ed and ready to join their other Ozzy friends. In keeping with trying to create these characters more or less as described in the Oz books, both have been made from found sticks and branches. Jack is pegged at his joints which does make him a bit awkward - and it was a bit of a trick to dress him! As stated in The Land of Oz, the Scarecrow will bend, but not break, whereas Jack will break, but not bend.

The Sawhorse is shown above in a more natural state, but here he is in saddle regalia - ready to trot through the Emerald City!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Original Broadway Poster

A poster from the original 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz was auctioned earlier this week at Poster Auctions International in New York, selling for $2800. I had a bid in - unfortunately the final price went quite a bit higher than I was prepared for. But what a fun piece of Oz ephemera for someone to have!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Friends

Back in September I posted a little preview for my next pair of Oz figures. They've been moving slowly, but I am finally making progress on Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse. Scraps and the Scarecrow are looking forward to some new companions!

Here's Jack - he hasn't progressed too far yet, but I hope to make some headway in the next week or two. At the moment, I'm just working on pegging him together - I've been using found sticks and branches to work with, which keeps things interesting!

The Sawhorse is much further along. At this point I'm playing with various accessories and trims - in his illustrations, John R. Neill did enjoy throwing everything he could at this poor creature by way of tassels and ribbons, etc. I'll see what I can do!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flying Girls and Boys

After the success of the Wright brothers in 1903, Reilly & Britton didn't waste much time jumping on the concept of the flying novel for teens. In The Wizard of Oz, the wizard leaves Oz by hot air balloon, but by 1909 boys, girls, everyone was flying airplanes! Even a 10 year old could do it, as seen in The Flight Brothers from 1912.

L. Frank Baum contributed to the trend with the two Flying Girl titles written under his Edith Van Dyne pseudonym. Other authors wrote the Airship Boys, the Aeroplane Boys, and the Boy Scouts of the Air series. The boys seem to have been more popular than the girls, as Baum's series only extended to 2 books while some of the other series continued to 8 or more titles.

In the 1930's, Reilly & Lee resurrected some of these teen novels using new titles and packaging. I was recently given a copy of A Wild Night on Lost Island (quite a suggestive title), which is a repackaged Boy Scouts of the Air on Lost Island. The story remains the same, involving a canoe accident and adventures on a sinister island.

On the dustjacket flap several other titles are listed which seem to be similarly renamed books from 20 years earlier. On the Hungry Tiger Talk blog, one of these titles was featured - Jane Pellew in Kentucky, a reissue of The Camp Fire Girls in Old Kentucky. Unfortunately, none of Baum's work in this line was revived!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Fun Project

On my last entry I received a comment from a reader directing me to a project she and her son had completed - a version of The Wizard of Oz featuring Riley and Company, created in rubber stamping and scrapbook techniques.
It's impressive - you can take a look here - And the stamps can be found here!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Denslow and Roycroft

An interesting item was auctioned at Swann Galleries in New York this past week - a copy of The Deserted Village, by Oliver Goldsmith, which was published by the Roycroft Press in 1898. This particular copy has sketches by W. W. Denslow sprinkled throughout the book, on the page borders.

Roycroft issued various titles with hand illumination as well as extra illustrations, but it's great fun - and quite a rarity - to see one done by Denslow. This was produced in the first year he traveled to East Aurora to work with the Roycrofters.

Unfortunately I didn't win this book at the auction, but I think it's a fascinating Denslow piece!

Monday, October 4, 2010

1905 Theater

Here are two pieces of sheet music I picked up in a mixed lot recently - Moon Song from The Gingerbread Man, and A String of Pearls from The Pearl and the Pumpkin. Both are from 1905 Broadway shows with slight connections to L. Frank Baum and Oz.

The most obvious connection is the success of The Wizard of Oz on Broadway in 1903. This inspired a plethora of fairyland extravaganzas, some successful, others not. On the Gingerbread Man sheet music, the show is labeled a "Fanciful Fairyesque" - what a great description!

The Gin- gerbread Man is interesting because the main character is named John Dough. In 1906, Baum would publish John Dough and the Cherub which has no connection to this show aside from the similarity of the title character, a living gingerbread man. The composer for the show was A. Baldwin Sloane, who also wrote some songs that were used in the stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps he and Baum discussed the idea of a living gingerbread man?

The Pearl and the Pumpkin was co-written by W. W. Denslow, the illustrator of The Wizard of Oz. This show also started as a children's book which was transferred to the stage. While it didn't achieve the success of Oz, it did manage a short run. Yet another John Dough - this time spelled Doe - turns up, this time a Baker/Pie Man! It's a pity that Denslow didn't design the sheet music cover used for selections from this show.

Hungry Tiger Press features some musical selections from these shows in their Tiger Tunes, at the Hungry Tiger website.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween is Coming

Ok...I know this isn't Oz related, but I had to share it. While walking our dogs this evening, Irwin & I came across this totally unique lawn decoration about a block from our house. It made us both laugh out loud and we wanted to get a photo before something happened to it - it definitely ranks as one of the most original pieces of yard art I've seen!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A New Post!

It's been a hectic couple weeks here, so I'm afraid I've been neglecting my postings!

Here's a pic of the start of another Oz project - some companions for my Scarecrow and Scraps figures. I have a little ways to go, but they'll get done eventually...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cloud Fairies and Mist Maidens

One of the fun things about the Oz series are the many unusual characters that turn up and make short appearances, often never to be seen again. One of my favorites occurs in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, where there is a brief passage concerning the cloud fairies. I've always thought these were a lovely creation by L. Frank Baum - Dorothy, Zeb, and the Wizard come across these delicate creatures, as they are climbing back to the surface of the earth after falling through an earthquake crack. The segment is very short, but John R. Neill devoted one of the book's 16 color plates to the subject.

We meet very similar beings in Glinda of Oz, this time the mist maidens. Ozma calls upon them to help herself and Dorothy cross a deep misty valley. Here again, the encounter is brief but a color plate was designed to picture it.

I've always liked these slight references to creatures that play no major part in the main Oz series. Recently while doing some research for work, I ran across a couple interesting paintings which brought these to mind. One is by Herbert Draper from 1912 called The Mountain Mists, (shown below on the right), the other by Fabio Cipolla called The Maidens in the Mist, (shown at the bottom).

I can't help being struck by the similarities of the paintings and the visual conceptions of John R. Neill. Of course, Neill's cloud fairies were drawn 4 years before Draper's Mountain Mists. I haven't found a date for the Cipolla painting, but the artist lived from 1854 to 1924. Or maybe 1852 to 1935. It's interesting how uncertain basic facts can be on the internet! I'm curious as to the date of the Cipolla painting - who knows, it may have helped inspire Neill - or even Baum's description of mist rising over a billowing black sea!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Margaret Hamilton

Many Oz fans have stories of meeting Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the frightful Wicked Witch of the West in the famous 1939 MGM film. In fact, when one of my sisters was in 5th grade, Miss Hamilton came and spoke to her class....unfortunately, it wasn't MY class!

But I did get to see Margaret Hamilton perform on stage, during the original national tour of A Little Night Music. I was 14 at the time, and convinced my parents to take me into Philadelphia for a performance - I was already turning into a fan of Stephen Sondheim. Miss Hamilton was playing Madame Armfeldt, the role recently revived by Angela Lansbury and currently being played by Elaine Stritch (!). Unfortunately, I don't have a strong memory of her performance - I was too much in awe of the entire production! It's still one of my favorites, and I can't help feeling that the current revival on Broadway is a weak shadow of the original.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life Begins at 8:40

I've just picked up a new recording of Life Begins at 8:40, a Broadway revue from 1936. At first this doesn't seem to have any Oz relevance, but it warrants a closer look!

Life Begins at 8:40 was written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, with some lyric assistance from Ira Gershwin. Of course Arlen and Harburg went on to write the songs for MGM's 1939 The Wizard of Oz. This review from 1936 is intriguing for bringing the songwriting team together with Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr, who both starred in the review, and later in the Oz movie. So, a number of the future Oz elements were combined 3 years earlier!

This also gave the songwriting team some experience in writing for their stars - in particular, Bert Lahr. One of the songs in the revue is Things, which parodies an operatic baritone - on this recording, it's performed by Brad Oscar. It's easy to see this as a precursor to If I Were King of the Forest! Harold Arlen later declared that no one could write better for Lahr than Harburg and himself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Josef Pierre Nuyttens

A couple weeks ago I bought this little painting of a cat by Josef Pierre Nuyttens. It really has nothing to do with Oz, but I couldn't resist - it's charming in a silly way. It was offered once on eBay and didn't sell, but it was offered again at a third of the original price and I fell for it.

Nuyttens was a well regarded artist in the early to mid-20th century who had a long career as a painter, illustrator, printmaker, costume designer, and club owner. He produced society portraits and sheet music covers. In 1920, the Belgian royal family commissioned portraits and he was decorated by King Albert I with a Knighthood in the Order of King Leopold II. Nuyttens was born in Belgium in 1877 and moved to America in 1894, settling and working in Chicago.

Nuyttens also illustrated several books for Reilly & Britton, including some titles written by L. Frank Baum. Most of these were published under various pseudonyms, although Phoebe Daring was in Baum's name. Other books include the two Flying Girl titles, and the second edition of Annabel. Non-Baum books include the adult novel Kenny, two titles in the Azalea series, and a dustjacket for the Captain Becky series - with someone else's interior illustrations!

I don't know when this painting is from, as it isn't dated - Nuyttens lived until 1960, and I assume this is from a later period. Apparently he was an incessant smoker, and died in a house fire which also destroyed quite a bit of his original work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dodd's Sister

The Evolution of Dodd's Sister is a companion book to The Evolution of Dodd, both published by Rand McNally in 1897. Just as Dodd discussed proper means of educating boys, Dodd's Sister turns the attention to the upbringing of girls.

W. W. Denslow's cover for Dodd's Sister is clearly designed to accompany his cover for Dodd. The same colors of teal, gray and white are used, as well as the same layout with a band of color at the top and a single child in the lower portion.

These two books were clearly meant to be a pair, but it's fun to see that The Romance of a Child (also from 1897) was designed in very much the same manner. It fits together nicely with these titles to create a trio of covers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

East is East and West is West....Sometimes

A few posts back, I had a question from a reader asking about Oz maps and why the Munchkins and Winkies switch locations on various maps. This is one of those perennial questions that has no definite answer, but there are a number of theories.

The first map of Oz was created as a glass slide for L. Frank Baum's traveling show The Fairylogue and Radio Plays. On this simple map, seen on the right from The Annotated Wizard of Oz, the Munchkins are in the east and the Winkies are in the west, as described in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The next map came out in 1914, as the endpapers of Tik-Tok of Oz. On this much more detailed map, the Munchkins are on the left, which is usually the west, and the Winkies are on the right, usually the east. However, the points on the compass rose clearly place the east on the left and the west on the right. This is unlike any standard map, but Oz is a magical land - perhaps that is simply how things work there!

When this map was reprinted in 1920 to hand out with Oz books purchased that year, someone seems to have noticed the unusual compass points and corrected them. The Munchkins are now irrevocably in the west, and the Winkies in the east. Ruth Plumly Thompson regularly referenced the Oz map when writing her stories, so the two countries remained in their incorrect locations.

When new maps were created in the 1960s by Oz Club members James Haff and Dick Martin, the odd placement of Munchkins and Winkies was corrected. The new maps used a standard compass rose, and the entire country was reworked to try and clear up location discrepancies. This is the same basic map currently available from the International Wizard of Oz Club, although it has been updated a few times over the years. But I still like the original map in Tik-Tok with it's unique directions - that's how I think the map should be!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


The Oz window is finished and in place. We managed to complete it in the time we had allotted for the project, which is always a good thing!

On the right, I'm foiling the pieces (wrapping with thin copper tape), in preparation for soldering. On the left, Irwin is finishing some soldering on the back of the window. Once the soldering is done, the window is cleaned and a patina is applied to the solder lines to darken them and create less distraction.

The window is now in place in a window seat on the finished attic/third floor of our house, waiting for trim molding to cover the outside edge. The window will primarily be seen at close range, due to the placement within the room. The photo on the right was taken at night with a flash, showing how the window looks when it isn't lit by sunlight.

I think the composition of this piece is interesting, as it places Glinda front and center as the most prominent Oz figure, rather than Ozma, the ruler of the land. I imagine the main reason for this is that the original painting was planned with Glinda as a portrait of Marie Lufkin, who commissioned the piece - but it's fun to think that this was John R. Neill's take on where the power in Oz really lies!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Progress

At this point, the Oz window is all cut and fit, painting and firing are finished, and it's ready to start assembling. There's been quite a bit of overtime work in the past two weeks! Here you can see the window laying on a light table - the window is wider than the table, so the entire image isn't lit. The shadow running down the center of the window is a support bar in the table.

On the left, I'm placing the final pieces. Now the edge of each piece needs to be wrapped in thin copper foil, in order to be able to be soldered together into a finished panel. This step is going to be delayed for a couple days, as a window emergency has popped up that we need to deal with - yes, it does happen! Once we are past that, we'll be able to continue and finish the Oz window.