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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Merchant Prince

This is a slightly different W. W. Denslow cover, created for a Rand McNally printing of The Merchant Prince of Cornville.  This is stated to be a fourth edition of the book, and has an introduction dated 1899 - so it's a little past the general time frame of 1896 to 1898 when Denslow was regularly producing covers for the company. I find this cover interesting, because it isn't what I generally think of for a Denslow piece. It has a paper label, rather than a stamped image, and in fact, I suspect it may be something the publishers put together without Denslow's input.

The first Rand McNally printing of this book from 1896 was very plain, with only the title on the front cover. This is a play, rather than a novel, and is said to have been plagiarized by Edmond Rostand in 1897 for his well-known drama Cyrano de Bergerac. At any rate, Samuel Gross sued Rostand over his play, and won the case.

I know this is a Denslow piece because the artist created a color poster for this book, featuring the same lettering and image seen on the paper label - the photo on the right is from the New York Public Library digital gallery. The poster is clearly signed with the Denslow seahorse, something which is lacking from the book cover. My thought is that the publishers simply pulled elements from this poster for the cover seen on the edition of the book shown above, which would explain the difference from so many of Denslow's other covers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Daniels Collecton

This past week, Sotheby's auctioned a portion of the illustration collection of Kendra and Allan Daniels. It happened that I was in New York City, and was able to take advantage of the auction preview and the chance to view the 193 lots that were going on the block. It was an excellent opportunity to see some fine illustration art! Several years ago I visited the Daniels' home and viewed their entire collection, which was an amazing visit - and over the years, I've bought several John R. Neill drawings from Kendra.

The one Neill drawing being auctioned (shown above) was an illustration used as a color plate in Tik-Tok of Oz, showing the arrival of Betsy Bobbin and Hank the Mule in Oz. This particular piece was watercolored after it was used for publication, matching the appearance of the printed color plate.  This piece ended up selling for $13,750.00 - needless to say, it's not in my collection! But what a fun drawing to have!

I know of a couple other examples of Tik-Tok color plate drawings that were watercolored in a similar fashion. The example shown on the left (which seems to be unfinished in terms of color, or possibly rather faded) was sold by Heritage Auctions a couple years ago, and another one remains in the Daniels' collection. These pieces are interesting and unusual - for most of the Oz books, the color plates were simply black and white drawings which then had color added by the printer. Neill created suites of finished watercolor illustrations for only two books - Dorothy and the Wizard, and Emerald City. One theory about these Tik-Tok pieces is that the original drawings were colored to be used for display purposes - it's unclear as to who actually did the coloring, whether Neill or someone else at the publisher's.

The items being sold were only a portion of the Daniels' collection. Kendra has two other wonderful Neill pieces - the first is a full page drawing from The Road to Oz, featuring the Scoodlers surrounding Dorothy and friends with the hopes of turning them into soup. The second piece is another Tik-Tok color plate drawing, this one showing Betsy sleeping while Erma, the Queen of Light, and Polychrome watch over her. This is a stunning piece, and has also been very nicely watercolored.

There were a few W. W. Denslow drawings from The Pearl and the Pumpkin - one full page plate and several text drawings, as well as a wide variety of pieces from many of the classic illustrators. The amazing thing about this auction is that these are the pieces that were let go - there are even better ones remaining in the collection!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Denslow Meets Tiffany

As I've mentioned in the past, my partner and I have a stained glass studio (centurystudios.com). We specialize in creating reproductions of lamps originally created by Tiffany Studios, as well as creating windows and various suncatchers.

One of the more popular Tiffany designs is a poppy pattern, which has always made me think of W. W. Denslow's poppy field from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I've always thought it would be interesting to add a little bit extra to this design, doing a little bit of reworking to the pattern, to turn it into an Oz lamp!

So, at some point this year I probably will. I've been playing with a couple possibilities for character placement. The idea is to keep everyone on the same side of the lamp - generally only one side of a lamp is seen at a time, so this way the shade can serve double duty - either as a Tiffany poppy, or as an Ozian poppy field!