03 August 2007

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 1900

"...a century after this book’s first publication, few Americans are unfamiliar with the image of Dorothy being carried by a Kansas cyclone into the magical land of Oz, where she meets the scarecrow, the tin woodman, and the cowardly lion. Their adventures looking for the Emerald City and the wizard have become a permanent part of American popular culture... its popularity now is largely based on the 1939 film, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. In his introduction to the book, Baum argued that ‘the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales.’ Modern education includes morality, therefore the modern child needs only entertainment in its wonder-tales.' " (The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century/ Utopias & Dystopias)

Frank L. Baum. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Geo. M. Hill, Chicago and New York, 1900.

Current Selling Prices
$12500-$40,000 /£6000-£20,000

Wnen I first started to visit American used bookstores 20 years ago, if they had a glass cabinet it was usually stuffed with Baum--you don't see these books much over here and I occasionally bought them as a curiosity. About 2005 we went to a house in an unpretentious part of East London filled to the rafters with SF, fantasy and Baumiana. Sadly the Baum books had been left to a university library along with boxes of Oz ephemera CDS, figures, games, DVDs & Videos. The nearest I got was 2 boxes of Judy Garland records that took an age to sell. The SF kept our customers happy for a few months.

An inscribed copy at Christies New York in 2005 made $120K. It was described thus:
"4to (212 x 162 mm). Pictorial title-page; 24 color plates, numerous text illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Original pictorial green cloth, blocked in dark green and vermillion, pictorial endpapers (very slight wear to spine ends, some very minor discoloration, otherwise fine).
A FINE PRESENTATION COPY OF BAUM'S MASTERPIECE. FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, in Hanff & Greene's binding C, with publisher's name in serifed type in red at foot of spine. INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR on the front free endpaper: "To my 'old' friend Mrs. W.C. Foster with kindest regards. L. Frank Baum. Chicago 1901."

Comments: Lyman Frank Baum began writing 25 years before The Wizard of Oz was published, when he founded a newspaper in Bradford, Pennsylvania. After leaving the paper, "he went on to manage opera houses, act in the theater, and establish a magazine for window dressers" but the success of The Wizard of Oz "kept him writing Oz books for the rest of his life: and even beyond his life, for after he died in 1919 others were commissioned to write more books about the Wizard" (introduction, Maurice Hungiville, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was, Gardner and Nye, eds., East Lansing, 1984).

Along with his writing, Baum dabbled in related creative enterprises, such as a never realized Oz amusement park, on Pedloe Island off the coast of California, which he had purchased for this purpose; and a film company, founded in 1914, which produced the first two Oz film versions. (The 1939 landmark film adaptation starring Judy Garland was actually the third cinematic portrayal of Oz.) PRESENTATION COPIES OF 'THE WIZARD OF OZ' ARE VERY SCARCE.

Blanck, Peter Parley to Penrod, pp. 111-113; Hanff & Greene (1988) I.1; Morgan/Early Children's Books 214."

VALUE? Signed presentations are not especially scarce but they are certainly valuable. 10,000 copies of the first edition were printed. It is a book with a multitude of points on it and to establish which edition you have you need Bibliograpia Oziana.To have the publisher's name at the foot of the spine in plain unserifed type and stamped in green is an excellent start (Variant A.) If the publishers ads are enclosed in a box on page 2 and it is a clean copy it is time to up the house insurance. Variant B with Geo Hill's name in red is still a very valuable book in decent condition. Variant A is exceedingly difficult and was mainly handed out to friends and family. Variant C which has Geo Hill serifed and stamped in red with C of Co encircling the O is also serious money. 'Serifed' means with a few fancy twirls, as opposed to plain no nonsense typography.

There is currently a decent but not fine Variant B for sale at $36,000. The book can turn up in horrendous condition and even unsightly repaired, refurbished copies from 1900 are much treasured. Mixed states of the first are often found --even Bibliograpia Oziana doesn't cover the full panoply of variations-- for that you need Blanck and his Baum entry in Peter Parley to Penrod.[ W/Q **** ]

TRIVIA. There are theories and interpretations all over the infobahn -- the Wizard of Oz is meant to symbolize the President of the U.S. When finally revealed, he is nothing but a man who, like all politicians, exists through smoke and mirrors. There is a theory that it is an an allegory for the political battle over the Gold Standard (the Yellow Brick Road) and the little people of the United States are the Munchkins. They have been held in bondage for years by the Wicked Witch of the East who in turn, is supposed to be the thieving industrialists and large corporations of the East, all of whom support the Gold Standard. Dorothy frees them from their bondage. Here's the clincher - the standard abbreviation for the measurement of an ounce, which is how Gold is most often measured, is "oz." It is known that Baum was a believer in 'Free Silver' and anti the Gold Standard - so theories that Oz was some form of political tract are rife.

Lastly, a fan of the Wizard of Oz decided to watch the film with the sound off and the CD version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as the soundtrack. One assumes he was stoned. Apparently it is perfectly matched to the film. ("You've got to start them both together, man.") Scholars have done detailed studies of this myth. Another school asserts that if you start to play the CD when the lion roars for the third time in the credits, everything will then be perfectly matched. Details to note are A) When Elvira Gulch appears on her bike, the famous chimes on the CD kick in; B) When the Wizard tells Dorothy to go home, the Floyd start singing "Home, home again", and C) as the tornadoes starts, the Floyd begin the amazing track "The Great Gig in the Sky."

Pics above 1. Front Cover. 2. An early poster for the book. 3 (below) Early Baum poster. Nota Bene. Baum's 1904 sequel 'The Marvellous land of Oz' did not feature Dorothy and she was only re-instated after many children wrote to Baum to express their disappointment...the pattern of children writing to Baum about characters was a major impetus for the creation and continuation of the Oz series. It persists in this age with the young wizard Harry Potter. 'Munchkins' have become 'muggles.'


Anonymous said...

Bibliograpia Oziana can be purchased from The International Wizard of Oz Club:


The Club's journal "The Baum Bugle" also regularly features articles on bibliographic points and printing histories of Baum's many non-Oz books.

Anonymous said...

Oztastic blog mate! As regards the Bibliographia Oziana it can be had from the Club at $25 and postage and sometimes cheaper at Addall.com...you kind of need it if you collect Oz and some people want $80 for it...dream on!

Anonymous said...

Did Baum write any sequels?
Interestingly, The Wizard of Oz was never translated into Russian. Rather, it was "reworked" by the guy named Volkov and was called The Wizard of Emerald City. He then wrote several sequels (Urfin Juice and his Wooden Soldiers, Seven Underground Kings, and several more, names of which I do not recall right now). In the last one or two, it is Allie's (Dorothy's) younger sister Annie that goes back to the Enchanted Country with the son of Toto.
The whole thing was extremely popular in the Soviet Union. There was a movie and a cartoon based on it. The Wizard of Oz in its original form was not known at all.

Anonymous said...

My copy of the Wizard of oz has the printing date of may fifteenth 1900 what variant would this book be?
How many books would have this printing date?

Bookride said...

Hoping some Baumian book person will answer this --or check 'Bibliographia Oziana' N

Anonymous said...

"VALUE? .....To have the publisher's name at the foot of the spine in plain unserifed type and stamped in green is an excellent start (Variant A.)...."

An excellent start? There are only a handful of these copies known to exist. What an odd thing to say.

mark shapiro said...

I am Mark Shapiro aka wizardofbaum and have the worlds largest collection of L. Frank
Baum books with over 450 first state and first edition books of his including 11 Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1899) with three in B binding and one is on Ebay in wonderful condition for $60,000..highest price for a Wonderful was sold for $152,500 in second state binding with a notation of Baum included in 2002 at Christies.

justin stevens said...

I have a 1900 mint condition copy of the wizard of oz as well as a mint condition copy of the land of oz 1904. and I mean MINT condition. Anyone interested in making a offer feel free to email me at t.stevens01@yahoo.com..i will post another comment when and if the books sell.