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

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Donahue & Company

In 1913 the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Co. leased the printing plates of their line of L. Frank Baum books to M. A. Donohue & Co., a discount printer. This was quite a prize for Donahue, as it enabled them to print cheap editions of the popular Baum titles, particularly The Wizard of Oz. These editions also undercut the prices of the new Oz books offered by Reilly & Britton during the same time period. This continued until around 1920, when the arrangement ended.

Donahue was established in 1861 as Cox & Donahue Bookbinders. The name changed to Donahue & Henneberry around 1880, and at some point became Donahue Brothers before landing on M. A. Donahue in 1901. As an interesting side note, W. W. Denslow designed a generic book cover for Donahue & Henneberry, (shown on the left), that was in use for a number of years. The company was based in Chicago and continued into the 1960's.

Pictured at the top of the page are two of the Donahue books, a Wizard and a Dot and Tot, both in dust jackets. The quality of the printing in the books declined during this period. At first it was essentially the same as the Bobbs-Merrill editions, but later printings dropped much of the color used in the interior. Still, Donahue was not shy about promoting their books; an original 1913 ad from Publisher's Weekly is shown on the right.

The publishers are quick to call The Wizard the one "pre-eminently great Juvenile Book" written by L. Frank Baum. They go on to claim that their copies are "the regular $1.50 editions in paper, presswork and binding — Sold to the Trade so they can be sold at 60 cents or less and pay you a good profit." Difficult for a retailer to argue with that!

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