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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Road Jackets

Here's a 1920 copy of The Road to Oz in dustjacket. What makes this special for me is the fact that the cover design features a blue background, rather than yellow.

The original Reilly & Britton version of this book only used this lovely cover image on the dustjacket, where it was originally printed with a metallic gold background. The book itself had a stamped cover with a different image. Later R&B printings used this blue background on the jacket.

When the publishers changed to Reilly & Lee, a cover label using the dustjacket art replaced the stamped cover. The earliest R&L copies used a yellow background, but this copy is from the very brief time period (1920) when Reilly & Lee used blue for the background on both the jacket and the cover label, before switching back to yellow for the remaining years.

I've wondered why they would switch back to blue for such a short time period - perhaps they were using up some leftover sheets? I've always preferred the blue to the yellow background.

The Baum family scrapbooks have an example of a printer's proof of this cover with a green background. There is also a blue wash over Dorothy's companions - apparently something that was not pursued in the final product. This rarity was featured on the rear cover of the Autumn 1990 Baum Bugle, and I've always been curious whether the green was a metallic ink, like that which was used in The Emerald City of Oz the following year. If anyone has seen this in person, I'd love to know!

Here's a lineup of the various colors tried and used on The Road to Oz dustjackets. I only have the blue one, and the green one doesn't seem to have been produced to be used, but wouldn't it be fun to have all four colors!


Jim Meadows said...

I'm a bit confused. Are you saying that 1920 was the only time Reilly and Lee used the blue background at all for "The Road to Oz", or the only time it was on both the dustjacket and the cover label?

The worn copy of the book in my family (missing the dustjacket) features a cover label with the blue background. It carries the Reilly and Lee imprint, but because none of the illustrations are in color, I assumed it came from a later period, perhaps the 1930s.

On the other hand, a promotional page at the front of the book only lists the Baum Ox books, and does not mention the later Thompson titles --- and it promotes each book as having some color illustrations.

Minutiae, glorious minutiae!

Bill Campbell said...

I believe 1920 was the last time the blue background was used on the dustjacket, and the only time it was used on the actual book.

The confusion on your family copy comes from the fact that The Road to Oz never had any color illustrations. In the original edition, the pages were printed on various colors of paper, but there were no color plates. A junior edition was published by Rand McNally in 1939, which added color to several of the original illustrations, but this was a small abridged version of the book.

I would guess that the promotional page at the beginning of your book lists Oz titles up to Glinda of Oz - which would make it a 1920 copy.

As always, the fun is in the details!