Wizard of Oz Meets LiveAuctionTalk

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries.

L. Frank Baum wanted to write modern fairy tales that didn’t frighten children.  His fairy tales, he said, wouldn’t upset them like the Brothers Grimm did. 

Baum’s first book, “Mother Goose in Prose” was published in 1897.  It was based on stories he made up and told his own sons.  

In the last chapter of his first book a farm-girl named Dorothy makes her entrance.  Three years later the timeless tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” appeared. 

Over the next 19 years Baum wrote 62 books.  Most of those books were children’s books.

After ‘Mother Goose in Prose” Baum teamed with friend and poster designer W.W. Denslow.  Together the men published “Father Goose, His Book” in 1899.  It was the best-selling children's book of 1899, selling an estimated 175,000 copies. 

Baum went on to produce five more books in 1900.  The whimsical tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was one of those five.  Denslow also illustrated it. 

Baum wrote a total of 14 Oz books.  The books ended up being so popular that after his death in 1919 the publishers continued the series with other writers.  Forty more Oz books were created.

The book turned Baum into a celebrity.   

The 1939 film version of the book titled “The Wizard of Oz” evolved into a pop-culture phenomenon, indelibly stamped into the consciousness of a generation of grown-up children and their children.  “The Guinness Book of World Records” calls the “The Wizard of Oz” the most viewed movie of all time, with an audience over one billion people.

To say the book and film struck a chord is an understatement.

“The Wizard of Oz” was made into a musical in 1902 and toured the United States for years.  None of the other Oz books were as popular as the first.

Early on Baum became interested in film.  In 1909 he started a company that made hand-colored slides of his Oz characters. He showed the slides as he read the book and the orchestra played background music.  Interesting but not a money-maker, Baum declared bankruptcy in 1911. 

Then Baum went into the film business in 1914 with The Oz Film Company.  They produced six movies before they also went out of business.  Distribution was the downfall. 

Baum wrote a total of 14 Oz books.  The books ended up being so popular that after his death in 1919 the publishers continued the series with other writers.  Forty more Oz books were created.

Ultimately what immortalized “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was the first silent screen version in 1925 and then the 1939 MGM classic, starring Judy Garland.      

“The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book” (1934) with its six pop-out characters from the story and a yellow brick road ramp for them to walk down is one of the most desirable Oz items.

The six die-cut, cardboard characters Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wizard can be detached and assembled into three dimensional dolls.  They were designed to walk, or waddle, down a slanted surface--the Yellow Brick Road.

On Aug 5, PBA Galleries, San Francisco, featured a copy of the 211 page “The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book” in its Fine Literature Illustrated & Children’s Books auction.  Published by Blue Ribbon Books the first edition, first state copy sold for $8,400.

Books

“The Catcher in the Rye,” J.D. Salinger; first edition, first issue jacket; pictorial jacket; Boston, 1951;  $2,700. 

“Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak; rare first edition; in the jacket; New York; 1963;   $6,600.

“The Wind in the Willows,” Kenneth Grahame; first Shepard edition; signed by author and illustrator; dust jacket; London; 1931;  $8,400.

“When We Were Very Young;” A. A. Milne; first edition; rare limited edition, 86 of 100 copies; signed by author and illustrator; dust jacket; London; 1924;  $12,000.      

   

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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