Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Joy of Dust Jackets

As most collectors know, it can be a real challenge to find decent copies of old Oz and Baum books. Why? They often were loved to death by the original owner, then passed down to another owner to be loved to death all over again. Think about how many generations of children may have handled a George M. Hill first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published in 1900 - more than 114 years ago.

If condition is important to you, then you may want to start looking for books in the original dust jackets. Books in dust jackets are often in excellent condition because the dust jacket protected the book from scratches and other damage. Dust jackets are fragile because they're made of paper, and prone to damage because they're on the front line of wear and tear from handling. If the jacket has survived, then the book was probably handled gently in the first place.
The third edition of The Wizard of Oz, published by M.A. Donohue & Co. circa 1913, is seldom found in this fine condition. The dust jacket (left) did its job protecting the book (right)!
Condition is the primary reason that I have set a goal of acquiring copies in dust jackets of as many of the original Oz and Baum books as possible. In addition to condition, I have another motive: sometimes the art on the jacket is different from the art on the cover. What's more, starting in the late 1950s, Oz books published by Reilly & Lee didn't have paste-down color labels, so the front covers are just plain cloth. If your book is missing the dust jacket, then there's no art on the front at all.
Without the DJ (left), this 1960 printing is very plain.

Fortunately it's not too difficult to find copies of the Oz books in dust jackets. Even though early printings by Reilly & Britton are rare, most titles were reprinted multiple - even many - times by Reilly & Lee, and as recently as the 1960s. Not so with L. Frank Baum's non-Oz books.

Take for example The Enchanted Island of Yew. There were two printings of the first edition by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1903. Bobbs-Merill reprinted the book circa 1906-8, and then again in the early 1920s. M.A. Donohue & Co. issued another printing in 1913. That's a total of five printings, the most recent of which came out over 90 years ago.

1913 Donohue Yew with & without the dust jacket.
I doubt I'll ever find a first edition Yew with its original dust jacket, but I do have the 1913 printing by Donohue. Not only is the book in gorgeous condition, but the dust jacket design is nearly identical to the first printing. In the world of dust jackets, it's the next-best thing.

In addition to the 1913 Donohue printings of Wizard and Yew, I also have the 1913 printing of The Magical Monarch of Mo. (You can see what it looks like in one of my previous blog posts.) I think it's highly unlikely that I'll ever have a complete set of jacketed 1913 Donohue printings of books by L. Frank Baum. They're that uncommon.

I've set a more realistic - but still difficult - goal of collecting all five of the Bobbs-Merrill 1920s printings of Baum's non-Oz titles in DJs, plus The Wizard of Oz. So far, I've found Dot and Tot of Merryland, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, The Enchanted Island of Yew, and The Wizard of Oz. My copies of Baum's American Fairy Tales and The Magical Monarch of Mo don't have DJs, so the hunt continues.
Bobbs-Merrill issued a uniform set of five non-Oz books by L. Frank Baum, plus The Wizard of Oz.

Another set of books that I've been lucky to find in dust jackets is the Snuggle Tales/Oz-Man Tales. Reilly & Britton published the first four titles - Little Bun Rabbit, Once Upon a Time, The Yellow Hen, and The Magic Cloak in 1916. It published the last
Snuggle/Oz-Man Tales (1916-20)
two titles, The Gingerbread Man and Jack Pumpkinhead in 1917. When Reilly & Lee reissued the books circa 1920, it renamed the series The Oz-Man Tales. I have five of the six Snuggle Tales in dust jackets. My Snuggle Tales copy of The Magic Cloak is missing the dust jacket, but I've compensated by acquiring a jacketed copy of the Oz-Man version. I'm still looking for a Snuggle Tales version in DJ to complete the set.

The Daring Twins of 1911, DJ (left) & cover (right)
I can't post pictures of all the books I have in dust jackets, but I'll show one more. In 1911 Reilly & Britton published L. Frank Baum's The Daring Twins. It was the first non-fairy tale that Baum published under his own name. Its sequel, Phoebe Daring, came out the following year in 1912. All of Baum's other non-fantasy stories for young people were published under pseudonyms, such as Edith Van Dyne, Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald, Floyd Akers, and Suzanne Metcalf. My copy of The Daring Twins is in the original dust jacket; my copy of Phoebe Daring is not. And, yes, the hunt continues.

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