Tag Archives: ephemera

L Frank Baum’s Forgotten Foray into Theatre

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Baum with the cast of ‘Fairylogue and Radio-Plays’ (1908)

Though L Frank Baum is best known as the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the famed author had a rich and varied career. His accomplishments include trade magazines and newspapers, along with an oft-forgotten play based on his sequels to Wizard of Oz.

Early Literary Aptitude

L_Frank_Baum_CadetBorn on May 15, 1856, Lyman Frank Baum was a sickly child. Particularly fond of fairy tales and British authors like Charles Dickens, Baum spent much of his time reading. But Baum found fault with fairy tales because they were so often frightening and gruesome. He would later note, “One thing I never liked then…was the introduction of witches and goblins into the story. I didn’t like the little dwarfs in the woods bobbing up with their horrors.” Thus, from an early age, Baum resolved to write a different kind of fairy tale.

But his first literary exertions weren’t fairy tales: Baum started his own newspaper, The Rose Lawn Home Journal with a printing press purchased by his father. Baum took the publication quite seriously, writing news pieces and editorials, along with poetry, word games, and fiction. The young man’s paper did quite well, and a number of local businesses purchased advertising space in its pages. In 1873, Baum launched two more papers, The Empire and The Stamp Collector.

Meanwhile it had become quite fashionable to breed chickens and other fowl. Baum took up breeding Hamburgs and won several awards with his birds. He also launched The Poultry Record, a magazine devoted to breeding and raising poultry. The publication was rather successful. Then in 1886, Baum published his first book, The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

A Love for Theatre

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Baum as Hugh Holcomb in ‘The Maid of Arran’

Baum also found time to nurture his interest in theatre. He frequently memorized passages of Shakespeare and even founded a Shakespearean troupe with his father’s financial backing. The elder Baum had made a fortune in the family business and purchased a number of opera houses in Pennsylvania and New York. He entrusted their management to his son in 1880. Baum proved quite adept, even delving into writing his own plays. The Maid of Arran, considered Baum’s first major literary work, met with immediate success.

But with the decline of the Baum’s father’s health and two unlucky episodes with swindling employees, Baum was left virtually penniless. His wife, Maud, suggested that the family move West. They settled in Dakota territory, where Baum opened a general store called Baum’s Bazaar. Soon Baum had made a reputation for two things: storytelling and extending credit. Thanks to Baum’s generous spirit and a drought that left most of his customers destitute, the bank foreclosed on Baum’s Bazaar in 1890, only two years after it opened. Baum established The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, acting as reporter, printer, and salesman all in one. But that, too, failed in 1891.

Return to Authorship

That year, Baum decided to move his family to Chicago. The World Columbian Exposition was there, so employment opportunities were plentiful. First Baum worked as a reporter for the Evening Post, but the paltry pay was hardly enough to support a family. Next he went into sales for the china company Pitkin & Brooks. He was often on the road. His mother-in-law, noted feminist Matilda Gage, moved in to help with the Baum children. It was she who encouraged Baum to write down the fairy tales he spun for his children and their young friends.

Baum frequented the Chicago Press Club when he wasn’t traveling. It’s been conjectured that Baum met illustrator Maxfield Parrish, resulting in Mother Goose in Prose (1897). But so far as we know, the two never actually met; Chauncey Williams of Way and Williams negotiated for Parrish’s illustrations in the children’s book. Williams also served as publisher of The Show Window when the journal was launched in 1897. The magazine gave Baum an opportunity to make a living without traveling as a salesman.

A Serendipitous Acquaintance

L Frank Baum

This photograph considered a fake, merely an actor holding a facsimile version of the 1st edition.

Soon Baum made the acquaintance of William W Denslow. Though the two had disparate personalities, they decided to collaborate on a companion to Mother Goose in Prose. Together they published Father Goose, His Book in 1899. The beloved book spurred Songs of Father Goose. The pair worked on a few more project, most notably The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum had originally submitted the story with the title The Emerald City, which publishers Hill and Company rejected. They finally agreed on a new title, and the first edition appeared in May, 1900.

Two years later, Baum collaborated with Paul Tietjens and Julian P Mitchell on an adult musical adaptation of Wizard of Oz. A major success, the production toured all over America. The country was absolutely infatuated with the land of Oz and its whimsical characters. Baum published a total of thirteen Oz books and six short Oz stories and came to be known as the “Royal Historian of Oz.” The Ozmapolitan, a promotional piece, was issued in 1904 to help Reilly & Britton advertise The Marvelous Land of Oz, which was the new firm’s first publication. Occasional later versions of The Ozmapolitan were also issued.

Baum_Bancroft_Twinkles_EnchantmentThough he indulged his audience with all these tales of Oz, he longed to delve into other projects. Baum often used pseudonyms for these endeavors, so that he didn’t have to worry about their critical reception. One notable project was Aunt Jane’s Nieces, a series for teenage girls Baum published under the pen name Edith Van Dyne. He also wrote under the names Laura Bancroft, Floyd Akres, Captain Hugh Fitzgerald, Suzanne Metcalf, and John Estes Cooke.

Baum also launched a traveling show called “Fairylogue and Radio Plays.” The show featured live actors costumed as characters from several of Baum’s fantasy books, a live orchestra, motion-picture clips, and colored lantern slides. Baum traveled with the show as master of ceremonies. The endeavor proved a commercial failure.

Return to the Stage

In 1913, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz made its debut on the stage. Producer Oliver Morosco inserted three songs he wrote (with music composed by Victor Schertzinger). Billed as “a companion play to The Wizard of Oz, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz met with great success in Los Angeles, but didn’t resonate with other audiences. Chicago critics were particularly unimpressed. Though the show made money, Morosco decided not to keep producing it.

Only an early manuscript of the musical is extant, and the play probably would have faded into obscurity were it not for the published music and advertisements. Promotional materials for the production have proven exceedingly rare; a survey of auction records and other online sources indicate only two extant playbills. One, from December 2, 1913 at the Babcock Theatre in Billings, Montana, comes from the collection of Fred M Meyer and can be viewed at the International Wizard of Oz Club website. The other, from the play’s opening night in San Francisco on April 21, 1913, is pictured here. We’re proud to offer this item as one of this month’s select acquisitions, which features a diverse collection of broadsides.

We invite you to peruse the entire list! Should you have a question about any item, please feel free to contact us.

Many thanks to our esteemed friend Peter E Hanff for his contributions to this article. The Deputy Director of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, Hanff is a great scholar of L Frank Baum. He collaborated with Douglas G Greene on Bibliographia Oziana, the main bibliographic record and resource on Oz literature. 

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Of Sammelbands and Sheet Music

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“See at Your Feet a Suppliant One” As Sung By Miss Ella Wren, In Balfe’s Grand Opera of the Bohemian Girl. An example of Confederate sheet music

Music has always played a powerful role in cultures around the world. Now sheet music provides a glimpse at people’s daily lives and illustrates changes in fashion, dress, and even behavioral expectations. Collecting sheet music isn’t just for music lovers; it’s an engaging pursuit that frequently intersects with history and literature.

The first music to appear in a printed volume was in the Codex spalmorum (1457). But the work didn’t include the actual notes; instead the text was printed with blank space to manually add the music to each manuscript! It wasn’t until 1473, with the publication of the Constance gradual in Germany, that music appeared fully printed. Three years later, Ulrich Hahn published Missale secundum consuetudinem curie romane, which included music printed with woodcuts. He claimed to be the first to print music, but most experts agree the Constance gradual was the true first. Soon after, missals, graduals, and other religious texts began popping up all over Europe, and many contained printed music.

The difficulty with printing music is that it generally requires multiple print runs: one to print the staff lines, and another to print the actual notes and notations. Hahn and his successors got around this issue by using woodcuts. Eventually, however, new printing technologies–namely moveable type and lithography–were adopted for music as well. (Famous revolutionary and publisher Isaiah Thomas was the first to use moveable type to print music in the United States. More on him later this month!)

Climbin-Those-Stairs_Bohemian_Club

Illustrations and themes of antiquarian sheet music can be an uncomfortable reminder of the past. This item, from the Bohemian Club, is quite rare with none listed in OCLC.

By the 1820′s, however, the most common method for printing music was engraved plates. This has produced numerous bibliographic obstacles for collectors and scholars today. First, not all sheet music bore copyright information in the first place. Next, publishers would often store the plates for long periods of time and simply use them, unaltered, for later reprints whenever they needed to replenish their stock. And sometimes they sold these plates to other publishers, who didn’t bother emending copyright information when it did exist. Sometimes the plate numbers can be used to determine an approximate date, but that’s largely based on how much is known about the particular engraver or publisher. Collectors of nineteenth-century sheet music, then, must put their detective skills to the test on a regular basis–and be comfortable with some uncertainty about publication information.

While many antiquarian book collectors would shy away from works that are not definitive first editions, this factor is less important with sheet music. These items were printed with the intention of being ephemera, and of being used. They often bear the marks of use, such as tears, smudges, wear, and mending with tape or sewing thread. Music printed in the early nineteenth century and earlier tends to be more durable than later sheet music because it was printed on paper made of rag rather than wood pulp. Meanwhile, during the heyday of American sheet music, it was common to print sheet music as newspaper supplements. These items, printed on thin, cheap paper, are often quite fragile if they survived at all. Collectors must be quite mindful of preservation issues to extend the longevity of their sheet music.

Highlights from Our Sheet Music Collection

A Complete Dictionary of Music

Complete_Dictionary_Music_Thomas_BusbyThomas Busby, author of A Complete Dictionary of Music, began his musical career at a young age. After being rejected as too old to be a chorister by Westminster Abbey organist Benjamin Cooke, he went on to study under Samuel Champness, Charles Knyvett, and Jonathan Battishill. Busby’s first musical venture was music to accompany William Kenrick’s play The Man the Master. This remained incomplete during his lifetime. His next pursuit, an oratorio for Alexander Pope’s Messiah, occupied Busby intermittently for several years. He published a musical dictionary with Samuel Arnold in 1786, along with a serial called The Divine Harmonist. Busby also published the first music periodical in England, The Monthly Musical Journal. His A Complete Dictionary of Music went through several editions during his lifetime.

A Sheet Music Sammelband

Sheet_Music_SammelbandOccasionally also called a nonce-volume, a sammelband is a collection of works that were originally published separately and have since been bound together. A musician or music enthusiast might assemble a sammelband of favorite pieces, while music teachers might put them together to teach students specific skills in a set progression. This particular sammelband contains 43 pieces, ranging from waltzes and quadrilles to country dances, sonatas, and operas. It includes a handwritten “Contents” at the front. Much of the music was composed for the piano forte, so the original owner likely played this delightful instrument.

“Carrie Bell”

Carrie_Bell_Confederate_Sheet_MusicCaptain WC Capers, who wrote the words to “Carrie Bell,” was formerly of the “Macon Volunteers” and had served in the Florida Indian Wars (1836). During the Civil War, he commanded Company G, 1st LA Heavy Artillery Regiment of the CSA. In July 1863, Capers was promoted to Major. He saw service at Vicksburg and elsewhere in the South. Confederate sheet music such as “Carrie Bell” was much more frequently published via lithography instead of engraved plates because metal was such an important commodity during the war–it simply wasn’t available for making engraved plates.

“The Ivy Green”

Ivy-Green-Charles-DickensThough “The Ivy Green” makes its first appearance in Chapter Six of The Pickwick Papers, Kitton informs us that the piece wasn’t written expressly for the novel. The favorite setting for the piece was by veteran Henry Russell, who said he received the whopping sum of ten shillings for the composition. Dickens frequently incorporated popular music into his works. He also occasionally wrote his own pieces, such as the satirical ballad “The Fine Old English Gentlemen,” which he penned for The Examiner and said should be sung at all conservative dinners. Meanwhile, Dickens’ extraordinary popularity meant that his novels often took on lives of their own, and people also composed their own musical pieces based on Dickens’ works.

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Caring for Your Rare and Antiquarian Maps

Rare book collectors often encounter maps, which present special challenges because they’ve usually been folded (and unfolded and refolded again) as part of their original use. They also make wonderful display pieces, so collectors may have to consider preservation and conservation for maps as hanging art.

Handling Antique Maps

When the oils and salts on your hands contact the paper, they can contribute to deterioration over time. Using white gloves is one option to avoid this, but wearing gloves also reduces your ability to feel what you’re handling–which can lead to tears and other issues. Most experts agree that freshly washed, thoroughly dried hands are preferable.

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Guide for the Pennsylvania Railroad (1855)

Always move old maps with caution; even the mount of a map can get brittle or split. Place a supportive, acid-free surface on your viewing space. That way you can lay the map on the surface and use the surface to move or tilt the map for viewing or other purposes. When you do pick up the map itself, use both hands to reduce the risk for bending, creasing, or tears.

Storing Your Rare Maps

Ideally all your maps will be stored flat, in either shallow drawers or acid-free boxes. Avoid stacking them on top of each other, as acid, mold, and other particulate can easily be transferred from one leaf to another. Each item should be stored in its own folder or mylar envelope. If a map is too large to be stored flat, it can be stored in a large-diameter tube made of acid-free paper or lined in mylar. Be sure to roll your maps parallel to the enter fold, rather than perpendicular. Place items inside a metal or wooden cabinet to protect the map’s edges from bumping.

Be sure to remove paper clips, binder clips, and post-its from your rare maps before storage. Metal corrodes over time, staining the paper underneath, while any acid-containing paper (such as a post-it) can cause ghosting on the paper underneath. If your item came with paperclips or other attachments, carefully document their location and other specifics before storing them separately.

Repairing Antique Maps

Because maps were (and are) frequently packaged with plenty of folds, maps are particularly susceptible to deterioration and tears along creases. While you may be able to complete very simple repairs at home, most should be handled by professionals. Misguided restoration efforts can drastically impact the value of your map. If your map has pencil marks or surface soil in the margins or on the verso, you can gently remove these with a soft eraser or with a dry cleaning pad and soft brush.

Like books, some antique maps have non-paper components. For instance, The Traveller’s and Tourist’s Guide through the United States and Canada has a wallet-style leather binding with gilt lettering. Talk to an experienced conservator about the best ways to care for leather and other materials without damaging the paper of your map.

 

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Williams’ Traveller’s and Tourist’s Guide through the United States (1851)

Displaying Antiquarian Maps

Ultraviolet light triggers a chemical breakdown in paper. Avoid hanging antiquarian maps in direct sunlight; though glass provides some UV protection, it’s not sufficient to ensure that the document will not begin to break down. If an item is particularly precious, consider glazing the glass, which affords more UV protection. You can also rotate the locations of your hanging maps to prevent damage due to uneven light or temperature. Whenever you rotate your maps, take a few moments to examine each frame. Ensure that the bumpers and hanging mechanisms are still secure, and inspect the dust jacket.

As for mounting and framing itself, these processes are best left to professionals. They’ll be well versed in using archival materials, protecting both sides of your maps, and the perils of trimming a map’s margins. A knowledgeable dealer will happily offer you referrals to excellent framing professionals.

 

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A Brief History of Broadsides

“Broadsides are the most legitimate representatives of the most ephemeral literature, the least likely to escape destruction, and yet they are the most vivid exhibitors of the manners, arts, and daily life, of communities and nations. They imply a vast deal more than they literally express, and disclose visions of interior conditions of society, such as cannot be found in formal narratives.”

-Samuel F Haven

Samuel F Haven, former librarian for the American Antiquarian Society, presided over one of the largest collections of broadsides in the world. Historians and rare book collectors alike cherish broadsides because they offer snapshots of moments in time, helping us to understand the zeitgeist of that era. Broadsides make ideal complements to a rare book collection, granting the collection greater depth and context.

What a Broadside Is (and Isn’t)

Broadsides are single-sheet documents that are printed on only one side. They’re sometimes also called broadsheets. They’re different from handbills, which are smaller and printed on both sides. Broadsides should also not be confused with leaflets or booklets, which are folded from a single sheet of paper. The size of broadsides varies greatly, but they are generally smaller than posters and billboards.

Early broadsides didn’t include illustrations. They were simple documents printed in black ink. As printing processes got more sophisticated over time, the broadside also evolved. They began to include stock illustrations done from copper or wood engravings and eventually bore more intricate and relevant illustrations.

The Emergence and Decline of Broadsides

In Europe, broadsides came into use almost as soon as the printing press was invented. They first appeared in the United States during the seventeenth century, which the technology of moveable type and the printing press finally made its way to the colonies. For centuries, the broadside was the preferred format for delivering public announcements. They were also a cost effective way to distribute poetry, songs, and satire.

Prince-Charles-Broadside

Bonnie Prince Charlie declares the illegitimacy of Parliament and calls all its attendees traitors. A fantastic artifact from the Jacobite rebellion.

Perhaps the most famous broadside in the United States is the broadside version of the Declaration of Independence published by John Durham on July 4 and 5, 1776. Thanks to this document, news of the declaration swept through the colonies. The John Durham broadside is a perfect example of how these artifacts can encapsulate a pivotal moment in history. Only a few decades earlier, Prince Charles of Wales had used a broadside to make a truly shocking announcement. He declared Parliament illegitimate and branded its participants as traitors. The broadside captures the heat of the Jacobite rebellion.

Before the end of the nineteenth century, broadsides had begun to fall into disuse. They’d been replaced by newspapers and radio for delivering news. Posters and billboards had replaced broadsides as advertisements. Today the occasional fine press artist produces a broadside, but the form has been rendered obsolete by technology.

Preserving and Collecting Broadsides

Broadsides fall into the category of ephemera because they weren’t made to last long. They were intended for quick consumption and therefore were often printed on cheap paper. Few people thought to keep broadsides, and the ones that did get saved are often in less than ideal condition. They may have folds and rips, or they may have been poorly repaired using the wrong materials. To protect broadsides from further damage, it’s important to protect them with a mylar sheath. Your broadsides can then be stored flat in a climate controlled environment.

George-Macdonald-Song-Christmas

The broadside edition of Macdonald’s “A Song for Chistmas” is incredibly rare. This is an inscribed presentation copy.

Meanwhile the ephemeral nature of broadsides is what makes them so valuable to rare book collectors. Some people actually specialize in broadsides. But the avid collector may supplement works by a favorite author with related broadsides. For example, a collector of George Macdonald would be interested in the broadside edition of Macdonald’s poem “A Song for Christmas.” Published around 1887, the broadside is the first appearance of the poem. It’s not published again until the 1890′s, when it appears in a collected volume. Macdonald’s “A Song for Christmas” broadside is now extremely rare; OCLC and KVK document only one other copy, at the Library of Scotland.

Perpetual-Almanack

Chatto referred to this very broadside in his “Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards”

Sometimes broadsides even served as sources for authors. William Andrew Chatto wrote about leisurely pursuits such as fly-fishing, smoking, and playing cards. In his 1848 Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards, Chatto cites a Catnatch broadside called “The Perpetual Almanack; or, Gentleman Soldier’s Prayer Book.” The broadside tells the tale of Richard Middleton, who was taken before the mayor for using cards during a church service. Chatto notes that his own cards have been a “moral monitor and help to devotion.”

As your rare book collection progresses, incorporating broadsides is an excellent step to broaden the scope of the collection. What was the first broadside in your collection? And why did it appeal to you?

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