Lyman Frank Baum’s tales of the land of Oz and its colorful characters have touched the lives of children and adults since the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Before the next Oz book was written, Baum and illustrator Wallace Denslow had a falling-out, which subsequently required a new illustrator for what would be Baum’s 13 sequels. John R. Neill was hired and illustrated the remaining books of the series along the way earning the distinction as one of the greatest American illustrators of children’s literature. The illustrations were a vital complement to the series and gave a visual identity to characters that have become staples of American literature.
Until December 2013, it was believed that the entire set of original printing plates for the Oz books were destroyed either by the World War II scrap metal drives or thrown away when Henry Regnery purchased the publishing house The Reilly & Lee Co. (formerly Reilly & Britton). However a significant number of John R. Neill’s designed zinc plates were discovered as part of Richard Manney’s collection of rare books making this the only collection of Oz plates believed extant. On learning of this collection, James Cummins Bookseller and Lou Weinstein purchased the plates and offer them for sale now.
The majority of the zinc plates held in the collection are of Neill’s illustrations of Baum’s seventh book of the series, The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913). Forty-five plates are available for purchase, thirty-seven individual page plates and eight double-pages. Each is housed in a custom morocco clam-shell box, includes a same size proof of the plate itself, and a signed copy of Michael Patrick Hearn’s essay, John R. Neill: Imperial Illustrator of Oz. (Printed by the Ascensius Press in a limited edition) Individual descriptions of each plate is available on request.
The individually sold bound plates are now offered for sale and a full prospectus can be sent by mail or email by contacting James Cummins at James@JCBookseller.com.