Antiques: L. Frank Baum book

Dear Judy Campbell: A friend suggested that I write you for an opinion of worth regarding an old book that has descended to me from my grandfather. It is titled "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" and was written by L. Frank Baum. The book's date is 1913; the illustrator, John R. Neill; the publisher, Reilly & Britton. My friend believes it is a first edition.

The green cloth-covered hardback has an illustrated cover showing "Scraps" the patchwork doll on the cover. There are 340 pages on which there are some black and white as well as color illustrations. The book appears to be in very good condition (pages are intact, the spine is firm and the cover, in excellent state.)

An insurance value would be of interest. I do not plan on selling this special family memento.

Dear Reader: "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my" sputtered Dorothy Gale in her journey through an imaginary kingdom called Oz. As young readers and movie-goers, we were spellbound by Dorothy's incredible adventures filled with trials, tribulations and triumphs in a fantasy setting crammed with curious make-believe characters. Had it not been for the creative genius of L. Frank Baum we might never have traveled this magical thoroughfare.

Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919), American journalist, playwright and author of over seventy children's books, was born in Chittenango, N.Y. Prior to finding his calling as an author, even though Baum was continually plagued with ill health throughout his life, he initially pursued a variety of positions including newspaper publisher, shop owner, director of a chain of opera houses and actor.

While based in Chicago Baum teamed up with illustrator Maxfield Parrish to publish in 1897 his first children's book "Mother Goose in Prose" which was followed by "Father Goose: His Book" in 1899, a tome that established his career as an author of children's literature. The following year his most famous work "The Wonderful World of Oz", published by George M. Hill and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, was launched and readers met Dorothy and a cast of characters like no other. Her entourage included incomparable personalities such as the Tinman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, respectively in quest of a heart, brain and courage. Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr brought these characters to life on screen in the legendary 1939 musical.

Baum went on to write 13 sequels over the next 19 years about the Oz kingdom, the final of which - "Glinda of Oz" - was published posthumously in 1920, the year after his death. The Oz series was continued by other authors, most notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional 19 Oz books.

Excluding Baum's first work, the Reilly & Britton Company of Chicago published the consecutive thirteen in the original series, inclusive of the book in discussion. "The Patchwork Girl of Oz", published in 1913 in both green and tan cloth covers, was Baum's seventh in the Oz string. All early Oz books are considered collectible.

Having a first state (or issue) of the first edition of "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" is deemed particularly special in collectors' eyes. To know if you have one and the same look at Chapter Three on page 35. If the "C" overlaps the text it is a first state, an important factor; if it does not, it is a corrected later state. A first state first edition green cloth example in pristine condition, should be insured for around $1,000. Second state green cloth examples with the corrected "C" are valued between $500 to $700. Like editions in tan, considered on the more rare side, are worth even more.Oz collectors, like other aficionados of tomes, deem a book's value well beyond its rarity. Condition and appearance are vital considerations. Loss of cloth, torn or missing pages, bumped edges, fading, rubbing, stains and weakened spines will greatly affect a book's appeal. First editions, dust jackets and an author's signature, important features to collectors, will typically magnify a book's worth.

Excluding Baum's initial Oz book, certain dealers are marketing excellent condition Oz first editions (first states) of the original Oz series generally in the realm of the low four digits. "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz" and "The Road to Oz" are exceptions noting dealers are pricing great condition examples for as high as $9,000 today. Baum's famous first book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" can retail in the right market for five digits if it is a first edition and first state and in perfect condition.

Photo #1: L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) American author of over 70 children's books once said "to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing" He pleased many a youngster and those young at heart with his imaginative works, especially his Oz stories.

Photo #2: There were 14 books in L. Frank Baum's original Oz series. First editions, shown here, are considered special in collectors' eyes.

Photo #3: The "Patchwork Girl of Oz" was the seventh Oz book in the initial series. It was published in 1913. The title character, pictured here in this first edition example, was a doll nicknamed "Scraps." A reader has inherited a like book and wants to learn its value.