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

Monday, March 27, 2023

More Macaronis

 Last summer I posted some postcards, from John R. Neill’s series of comical drawings titled Life Among the Macaronis. Since then I’ve picked up two additional cards in the set.

A Scandal in High Life is an image I've seen before. A dapper Macaroni is shocked to read in the paper that his grandfather was a draper! An added feature of this card is the verse, written by Neill, that tells the story explaining the gentleman's shocked expression; the other cards in the series just have titles. The series of golfing cards I previously posted all used cropped images, and this card has also been cropped from the original 1904 Sunday Magazine page.

In the Studio is a card I haven't run across before. Here we have an artist working away at his easel, painting a cat. But the poor animal has been completely trussed to the stool it sits upon, to prevent escape! Two gentlemen observe the painting process. This drawing includes typical Neill touches in the elaborate wine bottles and small glass. I would assume that this has also been cropped from a larger drawing.

This brings the total so far to five cards in this series. I don’t know if this is the entire set, or if there are more waiting to be discovered!

Sunday, March 12, 2023


The Wogglebug Book is one of L. Frank Baum’s rarer and lesser known efforts. The 1905 book is controversial today due to examples of stereotypical ethnic humor, which was popular at the time. As is often the case, some of the illustrations provide as much offense as the language. However, the story is typical of Baum nonsense, with the title character falling in love with a wildly patterned fabric, and his various attempts to secure it for his own.

The Wogglebug was introduced in the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, and Baum was clearly fond of the character. The insect is highly magnified and thoroughly educated, which gives him the stature of a man as well as a liking for long words, and a distressing fondness for bad puns. He became the title character in Baum’s attempt to stage the second Oz book, as The Wogglebug. However, the production did not achieve the success of The Wizard of Oz on stage, and faded into obscurity.

The character's activity in the book series is rather limited after this point. As the founder of the College of Art and Athletic Perfection, he presides as Professor Wogglebug. Learning is achieved through the use of school pills, which leaves the students free to concentrate on athletics. Perhaps his debacle on the stage cooled Baum’s enthusiasm for the big insect!

This book was an adjunct to Baum’s 1904 - 1905 Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic page. In a twist on the formula of Americans visiting Oz, in the comic page the Oz inhabitants come to America. The Wogglebug Book continues this theme, with the oversized bug living in a large American city.

In spite of its defects, the large book is quite decorative and illustrated in full color on every page. The drawings were by Ike Morgan, who had previously provided some illustrations for Baum’s earlier title American Fairy Tales. At one time Morgan shared a studio with W. W. Denslow, and there are some similarities in the style of their work. Although the illustrations are printed in color, the original drawings are plain pen & ink. Color was added by the printers, based on indications by the artist. The drawing below still has its original overlay, to help with color placement.

There were two distinct bindings; the first has a green tone to the background of the front cover, and the second is a pale yellow. It’s interesting to note that the blue ink used on the first binding is brighter than that used on the second. This provides much brighter green accents on the Wogglebug’s coat, and a more colorful image.

I blogged about my dislike of paper spines on books a couple weeks ago. This book has a fabric spine, but the covers are stiff paperboard - which, combined with the large format of the book, makes it very prone to deterioration. Most copies found today have covers that have suffered damage in the form of bends, tears, missing chunks and broken corners. Consequently, many have been repaired, as have the two copies shown above.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Another Ozzy Postcard

Here's another postcard relating to the stage producion of The Wizard of Oz, complete with a little portrait of the Scarecrow! This time it's from an actor, on the road with the show. Harry is writing to Helen to let her know he has arrived in Harrisburg, PA, and will be going on as Sir Wiley Gyle in that evening's performance. He has a good opinion of his ability in the role - and hopes others will as well!

 He mentions having finished The Yoke "which they say took three weeks to write". There were two books of this title at that time - one, by Elizabeth Miller, was a pseudo-historical religious romance, and the other, by Hubert Wales, a scandalous novel of syphillis and free love. I wonder which one he read!

This dates from August 24th, 1908, after Hurtig and Seamon took over the Wizard stage production.  I'm not sure who Harry is, as I haven't seen a cast list for these later productions. The tour took a break for the summer, and this would be the first performance since April of that year - so he might have been stepping into the role as understudy, or he might have taken it over for the run.

The show would continue to tour into 1909, but it was starting to wind down. One night stops were the norm, and Harry tells Helen not to write back until he writes again. With so much traveling, it would probably be difficult to receive mail on the road!

Incidentally, the card is addressed to 1261 Madison Ave., NYC. Built in 1900, this is one of the first luxury apartment buildings built in Carnegie Hill. In 1910 it was described as "one of the most select and attractive apartment houses on Madison Avenue". This seems to indicate that Miss Helen James was a woman of some means - or perhaps she simply worked at that address!