Last year, we chronicled the exciting rediscovery of an original full-page pen and ink illustration drawn by W.W. Denslow for THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ in 1900. This was the first major Oz find of its kind in decades, and it gave hope that even after over 120 years, works of this importance are still out there waiting to be discovered.
In March of this year, lightning struck again when two additional full-page illustrations by Denslow for THE WIZARD surprisingly turned up at Bradford’s Auction Gallery in Arizona. Bradford’s Auction Gallery is a modest operation, specializing in area estate sales, and it was revealed that the Oz drawings came from an estate in northern Arizona near Sedona. The owners of the illustrations were not art collectors, and apparently had little idea of their value.
The auction, which was conducted exclusively through an online internet bidding platform, generated immediate and excited interest, resulting in two record breaking sales for Denslow’s work.
The first edition of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ featured 24 color plate illustrations. With the discovery of the three drawings of the past year, only a handful of full-page drawings for the book are still at large, though only about 1/3 of the book’s total illustrations are accounted for. The search continues!
A fun fact: Early copies of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ feature red ‘hills’ on the horizon behind the Scarecrow and Stork. This has become one of the keynotes for identifying first state editions.
Brady Schwind is a writer, director, and Oz Enthusiast on a mission to definitively catalogue the existing original artwork from the famed "Famous Forty" Oz books.