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

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Not Just Kid's Stuff!

An interesting auction ended today; two original drawings by W. W. Denslow, used as color plates in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, were sold by Bradford's Auction Gallery, located in Sun City, Arizona.

Artwork from Wonderful Wizard is rarely sold, and the full page drawings used as color plates are more or less unheard of; but in the course of a little over a year, three have now turned up!

One example is in private hands, and was identified on Brady Schwind's Lost Art of Oz blog - https://www.lostartofoz.com/lost-art-of-oz-blog/lost-art-found 

The two that sold today were in the estate of a collector in Arizona; it's fascinating to see where unknown art pops up, and I can't help wondering where the drawings were prior to being in that collection. I'm afraid they didn't come this way - while I did put in a bid, I had no expectations of winning the auction!

A number of drawings from the first Oz book are in the collection of the New York Public Library, but there are still many that are unaccounted for, and could possibly be in unknown locations. But be prepared - if you hope to buy an example of Denslow's work from Wonderful Wizard, you'll need deep pockets; the final bids on todays pieces do not include the 25% buyer's premium that gets added to the total! 


Saturday, June 25, 2022

3 by Denslow

It’s been quite a while since I’ve shown a Rand McNally title with cover art by W. W. Denslow, and here I have three! 
The first is Hernani the Jew, written by A. N. Homer and published in 1897. This is a classic example of Denslow’s “shield” style of cover design, using some basic elements found in a number of his other covers.
The story concerns the marital misunderstandings of Hernani, a wealthy banker, and his wife. The setting is Poland, with the backdrop of the unsuccessful January Uprising of 1863. The red and white eagle, emblem of Poland, is the main feature of the cover, together with a pair of torches and a sword and crown on the spine. On the rear cover, we see a profile of Sara, the wife of Hernani. The story is one of loss, both of country and wealth, while Poland was under the control of Russia. It ends on a happier note, but is rather depressing overall.

The next is My Invisible Partner, by Thomas S. Denison and published in 1898. This is a sparser style of design, with elements scattered across the front and rear covers, and featuring some very Ozzy looking poppies!

This is billed as a story of the supernatural, and primarily takes place in New Mexico, with detours to Michigan. It’s a tale of mining life, romance and murder, with a main character who is subjected to several out-of-body experiences, and a mystery solved by the discovery of an unknown twin. 

Finally we have A Daughter of Cuba, by Helen M. Bowen, published in 1898. This title combines a shield design with a landscape, including a poison ring on the rear cover.

Events take place during the Cuban revolution of 1897, leading up to the entrance of America into the Spanish American war. The daughter of a wealthy planter is committed to the Cuban cause, and inspires others to join her campaign. Bandits, a lost heir, an American journalist and of course that poison ring all play parts in the story.

Monday, June 13, 2022


 Life Among the Macaronis was a series of comical drawings created by John R. Neill, and published in The Sunday Magazine, a syndicated Sunday newspaper supplement used by a variety of papers around the country. The magazine was in circulation from 1904 through 1916, using a small title change depending on what city and paper it supplemented. Neill seems to have contributed around the period of 1904 - 1906.

This example was the rear cover of the May 15th, 1904 issue, not long before the publication of Neill's first Oz work in The Marvelous Land of Oz. The series of limericks were written by Neill, to accompany his humorous drawings. Postcards of the characters were also produced; here are three examples, distributed by the Boston Sunday Post, showing cropped versions of the characters seen above:

The individual cards have been titled “Off for the links”, “A terrific drive”, and “A disaster on the links”. The extra space at the right of each card was for jotting a short message - the back of early postcards was reserved for an address, no additional writing.

Neill seems to have been fond of his Macaronis; he used the same elongated figures over a number of years, as seen in a 1901 single panel Christmas cartoon.

They also bear a strong resemblance to the Soldier with the Green Whiskers in 1904's The Marvelous Land of Oz, and the Hilanders in John Dough and the Cherub, from 1906 -
 Here's an undated original drawing by Neill, of a musical Macaroni puffing on a horn and surrounded by other whimsical wind instruments. This piece is inscribed "To my old friend M. L. Stein", over the artist's signature.

A Macaroni was a late 18th century fop or dandy, an overly elegant figure extravagant in clothing and manner. This helps explain the traditional lyric from Yankee Doodle Dandy - "Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni"!