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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Autographs from Fred and Dave

The role of the Scarecrow, in the original Broadway version of The Wizard of Oz, was Fred Stone's big break and the role with which he would always be identified. He went on to star in many shows, and worked in Hollywood as well. When the MGM film of Oz was being produced in 1938, some fans were disappointed that Fred would not be playing his signature part in the movie. At that time he would have been 55 years old - I've never seen if he ever expressed any regrets over not reprising his role!

David Montgomery was in the same position with the part of the Tin Woodman, but his early death forestalled some of his opportunity to top that famous portrayal. Although the pair appeared in a number of other hit shows of the period, a certain generation would forever identify the duo with these two characters. After the 1939 film, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley took over as the actors best known for these roles.

The photo on the left from 1910 shows Montgomery and Stone in The Old Town, one of the shows that followed Oz. After Montgomery's death in 1917, Stone declared he would not seek a new partner, and he became a solo performer - although there were rumors of his teaming with Frank Moore (an interesting Oz connection, since Moore had starred as the Shaggy Man in The Tik-Tok Man of Oz). In later years he often paired up with one or another of his three daughters - Carol, Paula, and - Dorothy!

 Throughout his life, Fred Stone kept a connection to his famous Scarecrow - he often signed autographs with his own caricature of the character. Although the example below bears the date of 1902, that simply commemorates the start of his years playing the role - this is from the endpaper of his autobiography, published in 1945. Something to be aware of, should a loose page with an early dated autograph turn up!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Letter From Maud

L. Frank Baum received numerous letters from young, and not so young, readers in response to his books. He did his best to personally respond to his fans, especially if they supplied postage. His death in 1919 didn't stop the flow of fan letters that were written to the popular author, and his wife Maud continued to answer the incoming mail. This led to the existence of some seemingly ghostly Baum letters!

Here is an example from 1920 - obviously this wasn't written by Frank, though it bears his bold signature, thanks to a rubber stamp. It congratulates the sender on winning a prize in a contest in the Plain Dealer, and goes on to say "I am glad you like my stories - I have written thirteen Oz books - and many others". It finishes with Baum's usual sign-off of "Ozily Yours".

This was written in January of 1920, when there were still only thirteen titles in the series. Glinda of Oz would be published that summer, bringing Baum's total of full length Oz novels up to fourteen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Denslow Atlases

W. W. Denslow's covers for Rand McNally covered a broad range of subject matter. Novels, reminiscences, travelogues and even atlases were decorated with his work. Here we have a Bible Atlas, written by J. L. Hurlburt, with a cover that was first designed in 1897. This copy is from 1910, showing that this cover design was in use for at least 13 years. The book itself was first published in 1884, and remained in print into the 1950's (possibly later) with varying cover designs.

The cover is a dark teal fabric, stamped in black, burnt sienna, gold and silver. It's an elaborately produced book, with color printing and two large fold out pages.

I've shown another example of a Denslow designed atlas in the past, The World's People and the Countries They Live In.  It also dates from 1897, but the cover style of this book is quite different. Rather than the simplified image used on the Bible Atlas, Denslow has produced a detailed drawing featuring women of various cutures. This book also included color printing.

These two examples provide an interesting contrast of the many styles in which Denslow worked.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Library Bindings

 Library bindings are a specialty niche in the world of Oz collecting. The books were available from the 1940's to the 1960's in sturdy bindings intended to hold up to heavy use. The covers were usually brightly colored, simplified screenprints of the original cover labels. The spines generally featured the title, without the usual pictorial vignette. As expected, these books often show heavy wear from library use. However, the specialty binding was also available to general customers, so copies occasionally turn up that were never used in a library system.

I haven't expanded into this area, but I did recently pick up an example that came my way. This is a library binding of The Land of Oz, featuring the Roland Roycraft dust jacket design, printed in black and orange on turquoise cloth, from 1959. The Roycraft designs were only issued for a short period of time as dust jackets, not as paper labels mounted to the book covers - so it's fun to have a copy with the design imprinted on the actual book! This particular copy bears no evidence of library use, so it presumably was sold to a home user. It's also interesting to note that the cover has been completely redrawn for this use!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Some Sketches

John R. Neill was always a frugal artist. Many of his drawings have sketches on the back, generally for other illustrations he may have been working on at the time. When working on his elaborate illustrations for The Road to Oz in 1909, he made various preparatory sketches and, as was his habit, these sketches were often on the back of finished drawings.

They can vary from very rough, as in this sketch for the Shaggy Man catching the heads of the Scoodlers  -
to more complete, like this drawing for Jack Pumpkinhead at home  -
to variations on the final drawing, as in this version of the Shaggy Man in the Truth Pond -

 In the final version of this drawing, the character's head is in profile rather than full on. Remember that clicking on an image will enlarge it for better viewing. It's always fascinating to see how drawings develop!