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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Lion

Here's a fun item that found its way under the Christmas tree this year. This is a toy lion, of the same variety used by Graham Rawle as the Cowardly Lion in his 2008 illustrations for The Wizard of Oz.

Apparently the lion used in the illustrations was found in a vintage shop in Minneapolis. This one turned up at an antique show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Perhaps they're related?

As you can see, the lion is in a permanent seated position. For the illustrations, rear legs had to be added digitally to give a greater range of poses!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here in time for Christmas is another early newspaper piece by John R. Neill, "Tostynge Appels at ye Merrie Yuletide". This was published in the Philadelphia North American newspaper on Christmas Day, 1901.

The characters in this remind me of Neill's Life Among the Macaronis series of drawings - the elongated figures and Colonial time period are the same, although that series appeared ca. 1904-05. This piece and the Christmas Eve page shown in my last post are both quite early Neill pieces!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas is Coming

Here's a newspaper page from 110 years ago, December, 22 1901. This features a grand and colorful John R. Neill drawing of a Christmas tree and gifts, together with photos of Christmas preparations. You can even see a typical Neill Santa in toy form, riding a toy horse! The one curious thing to my eye, for the time period, is the lack of a father in this family group - he's present in the photos, but not in the drawing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Musical at NYPL

I'm afraid I've been neglecting my blog this month - but December is always a busy time! The New York Public Library is featuring the 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz as the musical of the month for December in a series of blogs, written by a variety of authors - including this entry by David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press. A version of the libretto for the show is available as well.

Here I have a couple more pieces of sheet music from the Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz. Must You was a hit for David Montgomery, who played the Tin Woodman and contributed to the lyric for this song. The Tale of a Cassowary is one of a number of songs added to the show in 1904, for what was known as the Edition De Luxe. Recently I read an interview with a producer of the current Broadway show Spiderman, who mentioned the exciting "new" concept of possibly freshening the show each season with new songs and ideas. Guess what - it's a very old concept!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paperback Denslow

It's been a while since I've had a new W.W. Denslow book cover to show! Here we have a Rand McNally paperback printing of A Modern Corsair, by Richard Henry Savage - the man who never learned the proper use of exclamation marks!!

The previous Rand McNally titles that I've shown have all been hardcover books. But Denslow designed quite a few paperbacks for the company as well; many times he did the same title in both paper and hardcover, but the designs don't tend to be the same.

For example, on the right is the hardcover version of A Modern Corsair, courtesy of Cindy Ragni of Avant-Garde Books. A shipwreck is a prominent feature of both the hard and soft covers. This must play into the story, but I haven't read this one yet to know the details! The hardcovers make use of bold, colorful stampings, while the paperbacks feature more linear designs.

For another example, here's the hardcover version of In The Swim, also written by Savage. Bill Thompson recently turned up a paperback version with a very different cover design. The paperback cover is much more of an illustration for the story, which deals in part with shenanigans on Wall Street. On the other hand, the hardcover makes use of one of Denslow's more generic shield designs. However, both incorporate a golden calf, symbolizing the worship of money that becomes the downfall of several characters in the story.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a good thing Billina isn't a turkey!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Here's a quick post to show progress on the Oz window. On the right, I'm working on painting details on various pieces before firing them in a kiln. With any luck, the window will be done this week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ike Morgan

I was recently contacted by Ike Morgan's great nephew, who is working on gathering information on his great uncle. Unfortunately, I didn't have much to add to his knowledge - but he kindly allowed me to post this image of a lovely portrait in his possession (on the left) of Ike Morgan's sister - his grandmother.

In looking about, there doesn't seem to be much information readily available about Morgan. My posting from earlier this year has a few tidbits (click here).  He started as a newspaper artist - just like W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill. Unfortunately, newspaper art is very ephemeral and tends to be forgotten over the years, making it more difficult to investigate.

I did find that he illustrated a couple short stories published in 1907 in the Los Angeles Herald - the image on the right is from one, titled Mr Blink's Automobile. Two of these can be found online at Chronicling America, a site featuring scans of newspapers from 1826 - 1922.

Morgan illustrated a number of books - for L. Frank Baum, he contributed illustrations to American Fairy Tales, as well as illustrating The Wogglebug Book. He illustrated the Kids of Many Colors series for Grace Duffie Boylan, which received quite a bit of favorable coverage. A number of reviews for the book can be found in the newspaper archives mentioned above.

One piece I ran across is the painting on the left, which was sold by Buchard Galleries in 2004. It's a charming image and makes me wonder if Morgan did many paintings.

And, he designed the cover for the 1902 Montgomery Ward catalog. Advertising for this specifically calls out Morgan as a well known artist!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oz Window

Back in August, I mentioned that we would be making another Oz-themed stained glass window for a local client. It's been underway, and here are a couple shots of the progress.

This window is based on the endpapers drawn by John R. Neill for Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum's third Oz title. We made some minor adjustments to the image, but it's a pretty straight-forward adaptation of the original illustration. Above, you can see the pattern, or cartoon, for the window.

On the left, pieces are being cut and fit to create the window. Below, all the glass has been cut and fit, and painting on the characters is beginning.

It won't be long before the window is ready for assembly!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'll Get You My Pretty!

Just in time for Halloween - here's a tray of Wicked Witch heads in production at the R. John Wright doll company. The cackling must be earsplitting - Dorothy better watch out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1901 Advertising

While doing some searching online, I ran across this ad for L. Frank Baum's The Master Key. I thought it was pretty humorous - and found it distinctly odd that it makes no mention of the book's author or publisher. This was in a 1901 newspaper, the Minneapolis Journal - I'm sorry to say McCarthy's Book Store no longer exists on Nicollet Avenue!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Addams in Oz....

Well, not really...but there is a cartoon by Charles Addams from the June 6, 1939 New Yorker magazine that makes me think of Oz. This was prior to the August release date for the MGM film - but could there be a connection?

This electrical creation strikes me as a mix of the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman... maybe with a bit of Tik-Tok tossed in for good measure!

This original artwork is currently available from the Lewis Wayne Gallery on eBay.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I've finally pulled together a Zazzle shop - the OzShop - using the paintings I've been doing based on illustra- tions of Oz characters by John R. Neill. These are featured on typical Zazzle products - mugs, magnets, coasters, etc. A flash panel is installed at the bottom of this page - Take a look!

I'll continue to add new characters. And be sure to let me know if there are combinations or products you'd like to see - the possibilities are fairly endless.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Tik-Tok Man

Here's some more fun, early Oz material, thanks again to the resources of the New York Public Library digital gallery.

While poking around on their site, I ran across these two sheets of photos from The Tik-Tok Man of Oz - contact prints of characters and group shots from the 1913 stage show.
This show was a moderate success, but never made the trip to Broadway - apparently many critics found it to be too derivative of The Wizard of Oz. Still, L. Frank Baum managed to turn it into his 1914 Oz book, and it's fun to see another, live action if you like, take on some of the characters!

I've picked out a few of the photos and enlarged them - the quality isn't the best, but they're still fun to see.

Betsy & her mule, Hank.
Private Files and the Rose Princess - in the show, I believe her name was Ozma, which I've always thought must have been confusing for young fans of the books!

Betsy, Tik-Tok, Polychrome and the Shaggy Man.

A chorus of what appear to be gardeners and roses.

The Nome King and his sprites.

Queen Ann and her army.

Tik-Tok with a chorus of living clocks.

This looks like an act finale, featuring all the main characters! All these photos will enlarge if clicked upon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Teddy Bear Bread

This weekend I went to a local antique show, and ran across a fun little item - a set of postcards by W.W. Denslow advertising Teddy Bear bread. This set only has 3 cards, which read as a complete series, but there should be a fourth card - the final one which says "I'll Buy It!"  and shows a boy purchasing a loaf from the teddy bear. I'll have to keep an eye out for that one! (See comments below - there's actually a fifth card as well!)

I love the fact that Teddy Bear Bread would be found for sale at "conscientious grocers". This was the time period of the pure food movement, and the Pure Food and Drug Act had been passed in 1906, to control adulterated or mislabeled food. Obviously, this could be turned into a selling point!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Scarecrow

I've mentioned the New York Public Library's digital galleries (here) in the past, as a good place to look for interesting images. I happened to visit the site tonight, and found this magnificent poster which I've never seen before!

Here we have Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, in the third act of The Wizard of Oz. Seeing something like this just makes me wonder how many other pieces might be out there to be discovered. I imagine there might have been a companion Tin Man poster, or possibly other characters as well - this show certainly had its share of beautifully lithographed posters!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prince Inga

This illustration in L. Frank Baum's Rinkitink in Oz has always intrigued me. It's a portrait of Prince Inga outside a castle, but the odd part is the domed structure on the left side of the drawing. This has always looked to me like John R. Neill left an unfinished portion of pencil sketch that somehow got printed with the rest of the drawing.

On the right, I've removed that part of the image. This way the drawing feels more finished to me. Admittedly, it leaves a large area of white space, but I find the overall piece much more pleasing!

Neill did do a fair amount of sketchy work, but this particular illustration has always felt like an odd combination of a lovely finished drawing and a rough sketch!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fun Fabric

As followers of my blog know, my main areas of collecting are books and artwork - but occasionally fun items pop up that I can't resist!

I recently ran across this shirt, and couldn't pass it up. What I found fascinating is the fabric, which is an adaptation of a 1903 Wizard of Oz poster. The main characters are seen in the poppy field, surrounded by the deadly flowers. I love the fact that someone took the time to rework what would have been a fairly obscure image into a printed fabric! As you can see by comparing to the picture of the original poster below, some extraneous characters were dropped, and a bit of rearranging was done.

This possibly dates from the 1970's or so - there's no real indication other than an original price of $2.98 (marked down to $1!). There seems to have been far more variety in the presentation of Oz characters prior to the 1980's and the 50th anniversary of the MGM film. The appearance of Dorothy and friends as seen in the film became the norm on merchandise - it's refreshing to see something a bit different.

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Interview with Baum

L. Frank Baum was clearly a master of self promotion, and of the "story that suits the moment" style of interview. Consequently, I tend to take most of his statements with a large grain of salt. A fun example of this is an article published in the August 1909 issue of The Theatre magazine. Titled L. Frank Baum and His New Plays, this interview covers Baum's then-current theatrical projects, none of which were to make it to fruition.

According to this article - and this all sounds very optimistic, as the descriptions of the various projects are very vague for shows opening in a month or two - the fall season was to see a comic opera titled The Pipes o' Pan, an extravaganza titled either Ozma of Oz or The Rainbow's Daughter, and the opening of a new Children's Theatre in New York. Another comic opera, possibly titled Peter and Paul, was being written for Montgomery & Stone. Both this piece and the coming Ozma of Oz were said to be starring Montgomery & Stone, so there would seem to be a conflict!  

Ozma of Oz did finally see production in 1913 as The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, which played in Los Angeles and toured. However this is not quite the same show described in the article - for one thing, a different composer wrote the music, and Montgomery & Stone were nowhere to be seen.

Baum does discuss Oz as well. He manages to add a year to the run of The Wizard of Oz - the show started in Chicago in 1902, and here in 1909 Baum states that it has been running 8 years. At the time of the interview, Baum also mentions that he is working on The Road to Oz, and that there will be only one more Oz book.

But the part I like best about this article, is the correction that the magazine had to publish in the next issue! While talking about the possible Peter and Paul production, Baum mentions that the music is being written by Arthur Pryor, the famous trombonist who played with John Phillip Sousa's band. Baum is quoted as attributing the success of Sousa to Pryor, something which apparently did not go down well. In the next issue of the magazine a correction was published, including a letter from Pryor expressing his astonishment at Baum's statement. The magazine wrote to Baum for an explanation, but there doesn't seem to have been a reply....perhaps this contributed to the non-existence of the Peter & Paul show!

The full article can be read here, on the Hungry Tiger Press website.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Birthday Time!

Happy Birthday, Ozma!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another Oz Window

Once again, work and Oz are merging for me. A client has ordered a stained glass window based on the endpapers from Ozma of Oz. This is scheduled to be made in the next few months, and will be a fun project to work on.

Oz has been a part of our business from the beginning of our studio, over 25 years ago. One of the first things I made when I was learning stained glass was an adaptation of Ozma and Dorothy from the cover of Ozma of Oz. After a fair amount of rethinking and refining, this became the first in our ongoing series of Oz panels. I happened across the very first version of this panel in our basement recently. It's fun to compare that first attempt (on the left) with the final version!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bradford Exchange, Book 2

A couple weeks ago, I received my second Oz book from the Bradford Exchange. A question was raised in my earlier posting for this series, as to why I would bother buying this set of books since I already have the series in first editions. As to that, facsimiles fascinate me, partially due to the fact that they're never quite the same as the original thing.

A very nice job has been done with The Marvelous Land of Oz. In the comments for my posting on the first book in the series, David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press pointed out the lesser quality in the color printing of the book, and it's true that the color plates were not quite the flat, bright images they should be. I have to say that there is a certain rough, grainy quality to the color plates in this title as well.

On the right is a comparison - a first edition plate on the left and a facsimile on the right.

But these are the best facsimile versions I've seen done - the only other attempt that I'm aware of are the Books of Wonder series, which do a very nice job of presenting the original material - but there are some deletions and certain editorial changes which have caused controversy, and the bindings are not true facsimiles of the originals. However, they are a very nice set of hardcover color-plate books available at a lower price point than the Bradford Exchange series.

Bradford is working hard to create the real heft and feeling of the original books - the stamped fabric covers have been very well done. With Wonderful Wizard, a decision was made to reproduce the book in its earliest state, with several misprints and details that were changed in later printings. Marvelous Land is a hybrid of the earliest state binding, with no silver outline to the title, but the second state text - some swapping of illustrations and a publishers line added to the copyright notice. I'm not sure why they didn't follow the same first state idea for this volume. Anyway, these are quibbles and the books are quite attractive. In the end, the only way to have a true first edition Oz book is to buy a first edition Oz book - but these make a very decent substitute.