Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2009 Issue

Now Available: The Book All Collectors of L. Frank Baum and Oz Must Have

Baumbiblio

The Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz.


By Michael Stillman

A book has been published that is an absolute must for anyone who collects L. Frank Baum, the Oz books, or anything closely related. The title is The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz, written by Paul R. Bienvenue with Robert E. Schmidt, and is published by March Hare Books of El Segundo, California. It even contains a foreword from the author's great-grandson, Robert A. Baum, who knew Frank's wife, Maud (L. Frank Baum died 90 years ago, but Maud lived until 1953, and was a particular influence on his pro-feminist views). The book is priced at $75, which, while a bargain for the level of research provided, is irrelevant to a serious Baum collection. This is an incredibly detailed bibliography and you will never purchase another significant Baum book (in English) again without consulting it.

L. Frank Baum was born in 1856, and attempted a number of careers before settling down to be a writer of children's books. He tried raising poultry, worked as a store clerk, and moved to South Dakota to open his own store. However, Baum always had a love for writing and the theater, and his lack of notable success in other endeavors always brought him back. As early as the age of 15, he was publishing an amateur newspaper, The Rose Lawn Journal (named after the family estate near Syracuse, New York), and he would later publish a directory of local stamp dealers, and The Poultry Record during his fowl breeding days. His first true book was The Book of the Hamburgs, about a breed of chicken, published in 1886. Bienvenue describes it as his "scarcest" book and one can understand why. It would not have had the appeal of his Oz books.

In the 1880s, Baum managed some theaters for his wealthy father, and wrote and acted in some plays himself. The most successful was The Maid of Arran, performed in 1882. At the time, he was also writing for some newspapers. He married Maud Gage, daughter of a prominent suffragist, but then returned to another family business more associated with the source of his family's wealth, petroleum. The firm was Baum's Castorine Co., which produced such products as axle grease.

It was a series of family financial setbacks that led Baum to move to South Dakota, where he opened Baum's Bazaar, a general store that failed after a year in business. He next published a newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which also failed, and then moved to Chicago to pursue various journalistic and mercantile pursuits. He took on a job as a traveling china salesman, a role that meant many nights spent on the road, away from his wife and children. He used this time away from home to write short stories and poems for adults, but at home, he would invent tales for his children. This led him to the fine printing house of Way and Williams, which commissioned him to write his first children's book, Mother Goose in Prose, published in 1897. This was an expensive book, with illustrations obtained from the then young Maxfield Parrish, more suitable for adults then children. It did not sell very well.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Maitres Affiches by MUCHA - Papier a cigarettes Job. 202. $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> De Bry - Map of the West Indies (including Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Parts of Central & South America, Sea Monsters, Ships). $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gould - Short-billed Toucan (Ramphastos Brevicarinatus). $5,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Redoute, Folio - Pale Iris - Iris flavescens. 375. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gillray - Light Expelling Darkness or The Sun of the Constitution. $200 to $500.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gerard - Wild Hemp or Weed, Cannabis. 708. $150 to $450.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Shaw & Nodder - Head of The Dodo. 165. $100 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

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