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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Some Children's Bookplates

Bookplates have always been popular as a means of identifying ownership of favorite books. The earliest examples originated in Germany, and date back to the 15th century. They have also been a popular area of collecting over the years.

Some Children's Bookplates, by Wilbur Macey Stone is a fun little book from 1901, consisting of a brief study of some contemporary bookplates for children by various artists. Most notably, the book contains a tipped in example of a plate drawn by W. W. Denslow, for Edna Browning Wilkins. Incidentally, Miss Wilkins' copies of Father Goose, His Book (containing this bookplate), and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were sold at auction at Bonham's last December.

350 copies of this book were printed, and this is copy 315. There is a small note from the author, dated 1936, tipped inside the cover, to a Mr. & Mrs. Orleans - as well as a bookplate for the House of Orleans. A copy of Father Goose, His Book is currently being offered online at ABE Books with the same Orleans bookplate - they must have been book lovers!

In an article in The Collector from July, 1901,  reviewer W. G. Bowdoin was not very impressed with Denslow's work on this particular plate. The chief complaint was the lack of a "bookish" element, together with a concern that "the average Chicago policeman is not always as courteous as we should like him to be". I couldn't help thinking that this particular reviewer was writing from personal experience, as he also states:

"... and after a man, innocent of the infraction of the law, has been pushed and hauled, if not clubbed, by a policeman such as is portrayed on the Wilkins plate, the most resentful and antagonistic feelings are apt to be aroused by the realism of the drawn subject."

Overall, he clearly felt the subject matter was quite inappropriate! On the other hand, Wilber Macy Stone felt that "this plate quite fulfills the requisites of an ideal child's plate, which is praise enough."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Scraps and Scarecrow!

The past six months or so have been an unusual and surprising sort of golden period for me, in the acquisition of original Oz artwork. A drawing by W. W. Denslow of the Scarecrow and Tinman, pieces by John R. Neill from Marvelous Land of Oz, Road to Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, and this most recent illustration from The Patchwork Girl of Oz, have all found their way into the collection, from a variety of sources. It's a bit overwhelming, but also quite exciting!

This drawing was used as a double page color spread in the published book, and the artwork is quite large at 16" x 24". It's a striking picture of two of the favorite Oz characters, the Scarecrow and Scraps the Patchwork Girl, meeting for the first time. The addition of color in the printing of the book made this a very vibrant image!

This piece popped up quite unexpectedly on eBay recently, much to my surprise. It's a drawing whose existence I've not been aware of although many, if not most, of the illustrations from Patchwork Girl do still survive.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New York Again

Last Autumn I posted about an exhibition at the New York Public Library called The A B C of It: Why Children's Books Matter - the photo on the right is from that post. The show has been extended beyond its initial run, and I stopped by for another look when I was in NYC last week.
I was happy to see that the display of W. W. Denslow illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  had been changed from those I viewed previously. This time, two chapter titles and one color plate drawing were on view. According to Michael Hearn, in The Annotated Wizard of Oz, the drawing for the Chapter Three title page was originally intended for Chapter Two. This explains the paper overlay with the inked title. It's always fun to see these things in person!
I was also pleased to be able to view a special copy of the Wonderful Wizard at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. In December, Bonham's auction house sold a beautiful example of a first state, primary binding Wizard inscribed by both L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow, with a sketch by Denslow. This copy was for sale at the fair - I believe for $240,000. I didn't buy it. But it was lovely to see!