Hitch-hiking on the Yellow Brick Road: Collecting the Wizard of Oz
When L. Frank Baum first conceived of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, his only intent was to create a modern fairy story, a wonder tale for modern children without all the heavy moralizing that characterized most children's stories of the era. He soon found that, if you create a living thing, it continues to grow until it is no longer your own, but belongs to itself. And the Marvelous Land of Oz is truly alive.
To those whose only knowledge of Oz is through the movie, some explanation is necessary. Dorothy Gale did not merely dream Oz into existence, she truly went there, and more than once. Mr. Baum soon found his public expected a new Oz book every year, and he sometimes found himself stretched to comply. To the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were added Ozma of Oz, and Tik-Tok, the Clockwork Man, Rinkitink and the Patchwork Girl. Indeed, once Baum even tried to escape his creation by saying that Oz had been rendered invisible to prevent the prying of outside eyes. Too late, however, for the adoring fans of Oz clamored for more, and Baum continued to write a story a year until his death.
>But the passing of its creator was not the end of Oz, as a new Royal Historian was appointed. Ruth Plumly Thompson took up the mantel and the magic of Oz continued. New citizens of Oz included the Giant Horse of Oz, Ojo and Speedy, Handy Mandy and the Silver Princess. Thompson served as Royal Historian from 1920 to 1939. She yielded the pen to John R. Neill, who had served as illustrator on all the Oz books since the second, when he had replaced W. W. Denslow. Neill wrote three Oz stories before his own death in 1943. After Neill, the publishing of Oz books became more sporadic, as sales slowed and publishing costs rose. Royal Historians came and went, but never quite caught the flavor of the original enchantment. The original books are now eagerly sought by collectors to preserve the magic that is Oz. Here at C. Dickens the spell of this truly American Fairyland awaits you.
When M.G.M. Studios set out to re-create the Land of Oz for the silver screen, one of the first challenges was in costuming. To achieve an appropriate old-fashioned image for the citizens of Oz, studio assistants scoured the second hand shops of Los Angeles. In particular, a frock coat to be worn by the Wizard was sought out with great attention to detail until a suitable specimen was obtained. When Frank Morgan appeared on the set in full costume, no one doubted that he was the very image of the Humbug Wizard. But as he stood fishing around in the pocket of his wizard's coat, Mr. Morgan discovered a scrap of paper, a forgotten souvenir of the coat's former owner. When Morgan drew the paper out and opened it flat for the cast and crew to see, it was revealed to be a pawn ticket...made out to L. Frank Baum. Of course, when in Oz, one should never be surprised by the sudden appearance of Magic.
Copyright 1996 - 2001 C. Dickens Fine, Rare and Collectible Books, Atlanta, Georgia