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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Whose Soul?

Whose Soul Have I Now is one of the W. W. Denslow/Rand McNally titles that has intrigued me since I first heard of it, simply from its title. As it turns out, it's a fairly obtuse book set in Hawaii and dealing with the suffering and eventual recovery of the wife of a drug-addicted, abusive husband.

However, it does have a very nice cover by Denslow. It's one of his more pictorial efforts, with a wraith-like woman drifting through the trees. It also has an interesting color scheme of lavender, yellow and olive green that is very striking.

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Endpapers

W. W. Denslow broke into full color endpaper designs with his own books. For Denslow's Mother Goose in 1901, the design is reminiscent of Dot & Tot of Merryland. Both books were published in the same year, but this time, rather than a parading toy band, we have a repeating design of geese.

In Denslow's Night Before Christmas, published the following year, the endpaper design bursts across the page in full color with an array of toys, Santa, and a Christmas tree that only Denslow could have come up with!

Of the three remaining full length children's novels illustrated by Denslow, only The Pearl and the Pumpkin from 1904 has pictorial endpapers. Here the design covers both pages but is printed in a single color, turquoise. The endpapers are also seen in two colors, orange and black, in what are generally thought of as later printings of the book, although priority is uncertain. Billy Bounce and The Jeweled Toad both have plain endpapers, which is too bad - I'd like to see what Denslow could have come up with to welcome readers into these stories.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Denslow Endpapers

In looking at a few books illustrated by W. W. Denslow, I noticed an interesting progression in endpaper design. The earliest example I have is from 1898, in A Cruise Beneath the Crescent, one of the Rand McNally titles with a Denslow designed cover. He also provided illustrations, including an endpaper drawing that runs along the left side of the front cover. This is a street scene in black & white.

The following year, 1899, Denslow illustrated Father Goose, His Book for L. Frank Baum. Here again he provided a simple endpaper design running along the left side of the cover. This time there is color added, in the tan background and the orange bill of the goose.

In 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published. Here, Denslow extended his endpaper design to cover the entire left side, as opposed to a smaller strip design. But by confining the Cowardly Lion between two trees, he almost gives the same impression of a narrow illustrated strip on the left side. Once again there is a tan background to the image, although no additional color is added.

In 1901, the final Baum/Denslow title was published, Dot & Tot in Merryland. Here, Denslow has extended to fill both endpapers with his design. Three colors are used - black, with a rich brown and orange.

Finally, in 1903 Denslow provided a new endpaper design for The New Wizard of Oz, this time another double page spread in two colors, orange and green. This is a break from the tan and brown tones of his earlier designs, and feels far less regimented in the way the flowers spread across the pages. By this time, he had also started publishing some of his own picture books with more colorful endpaper illustrations.

The first endpaper design is quite detailed and a basically straightforward depiction of an eastern street scene. From there the designs become more playful, appropriately for children's books, with the final design for New Wizard being the most appealing to my mind.

Friday, February 5, 2010

In the Swim

An archive of Rand McNally titles was recently offered at auction, including many books with W. W. Denslow covers. I didn't win the auction, but I have been able to add several titles to my collection through the kindness of Cindy at Avant Garde Books - the auction winner. Consequently, here's yet another Rand McNally title with a Denslow cover, this time In The Swim by Richard Henry Savage.

In The Swim was published in 1898. This book and my copy of Lost Princess Falka both came from the collection of books mentioned above, and both bear a library label on the spine, presumably from the Rand McNally archive. "EDITORIAL" is rubber stamped inside the front cover on both copies. In comparing notes with Cindy, I am finding that there are more variations on these many covers than I expected, which is surprising considering how difficult the books can be to find.

This title is an example of Denslow's simpler shield covers, which he came up with for several books. In spite of its simplicity, the cover is stamped in both gold and silver. Most Rand McNally titles include gold stamping, but off-hand the only other title I know of to use both metallics is The Waters of Caney Fork.

In my past examples of titles by Savage, I've commented on the excessive use of exclamation marks throughout the books - practically on every sentence. Oddly enough, although this book is also written by Savage, it appears to be perfectly readable without any excessive punctuation. It is later than either of his other titles that I've mentioned - maybe the editors caught on to the problem. I'm looking forward to reading the book to learn the significance of the cow on the spine!