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

Monday, September 2, 2013

Original Prices

Lately I've been looking at the original pricing of the Oz books - it's trivial but interesting!

1900: Wonderful Wizard - $1.50
This was an elaborate children's book, with 24 inserted color plates and color used throughout the book. The price was a little higher than the $1.25 average at the time, but it sounds like a bargain to me!
1904 - 1916: Marvelous Land through Rinkitink - $1.25
The earlier titles had 16 color plates or color throughout the book, while titles after 1913 were standardized with 12 color plates. So, while the price stayed the same, there was a definite cutback in printing costs.

1917:  Lost Princess - $1.35
This was a price increase as America entered World War I. This was also the period when sales of the Oz books began to climb, after a few slack years.
1918 - 1919: Tin Woodman and Magic - $1.50
Another increase along with the end of World War I.
1920 - 1924:  Glinda through Grampa - $2.00
This period was a height of Oz popularity, and the books achieved the highest prices charged prior to 1950. The jump to $2.00 in 1920 was a substantial increase, and this price can be seen on the dustjacket spines of other Oz books published that year. In fact, it's an easy way to date a jacketed book to 1920!
1925 - 1930: Lost King through Yellow Knight - $1.60
A considerable price drop from the previous titles, even before the start of the Great Depression in 1929. I have 2 non-Oz titles by Baum from 1930, both of which are priced at $1.00 - John Dough and Sea Fairies. Clearly the less familiar titles were fading as Oz continued.
1931 - 1932: Pirates and Purple Prince - $1.75
A price raise in the midst of the Great Depression - but not for long!
1933 - 1942: Ojo through Lucky Bucky $1.50
This is the longest period with one price, and the lowest price for the books since 1919!  Color plates were dropped after Wishing Horse in 1935, which would have affected printing costs.
1946: Magical Mimics - $1.75
1949: Shaggy Man - $2.00
1951: Hidden Valley - $2.50
1963: Merry Go Round - $3.95 - all older titles were priced @ $3.50
As the series continued, prices increased regularly. Still, over a 63 year span, prices stayed relatively level!


Anonymous said...

I think the White Cover editions of the mid 1960s began at $3.95. I wonder how long that price stayed stable through the inflationary 70s?

Bill Campbell said...

I seem to remember the Reilly & Lee white cover editions costing $5.00 in the mid 1970's - when you could find them. That was why I bought the Rand McNally paperbacks at $1.50 each!

Jim Meadows said...

The core of my Oz book collection includes used editions from the 1930s and 40s (no color plates), but the rest were purchased new in my childhood and teen years in the 1960s and early 70s. The one White Cover edition that still has a price marking on it went for $3.95. My copy of "The Hidden Valley of Oz" is probably a first printing, but by the time I bought it circa 1970 (new, not 2nd-hand), it was priced in pencil at $3.50, not the $2.50 that must of been noted on a piece of the dust-jacket that was snipped off. My latter-day edition of "The Cowardly Lion of Oz" has $3.50 printed as the price on its Dick Martin-illustrated dust-jacket.

And as for the Rand McNally trade paperbacks ... well, my copy of "The Magic of Oz" is marked $1.50, but "Glinda of Oz" went for $1.95. Was it the mid '70s by then?

Anonymous said...

The original prices of the (inferior mass market) Del Rey Baum paperbacks were $1.95 in 1979. Beginning with the mid-70s, it seems that inflation began running riot. The cost of collectible old Oz books (and other pop culture) also went up as they became more recognized as worthwile and hence more expensive

MMayrend said...

This is off topic, but the illustrations looked similar to an old wooden puzzle needing restoration.


Does anyone recognize these prints used on the puzzle?