Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rare Wizard Of Oz Movable Book Pops-Up In Marketplace

By Stephen J. Gertz

A scarce, complete, first edition, first state copy of The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book (1934) - one of the rarest of all movable books - has come into the marketplace.

Inside rear cover. Note band covering envelope with ramp.

Not only are all six waddle figures present, four of them have not been punched-out from the background sheet and are as new. The accompanying yellow brick road ramp for Dorothy, the Wizard, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and Toto to waddle upon is also present. This is extraordinary; the figures and ramp usually wound up as confetti within days after children got their hands on them.

The Scarecrow.

The illustrations are by renowned American artist W.W. Denslow (1856-1915), who collaborated with Oz creator L. Frank Baum on many books.

The Cowardly Lion.

When the figures are punched-out, assembled with their hinged legs, and placed at the top of the ramp, they "waddle" down the incline as paper action figures. The Cowardly Lion, presumably, needs encouragement to take his first step on The Yellow Brick Road. A metaphysical nudge from behind should suffice; "Boo!" will do.


The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book is actually a reprint of the fifth edition of the first book in the classic series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), which, in its second edition, was retitled, The New Wizard of Oz (1903). The text points are similar to the fifth edition (printed 1920s-30s), second state, but with a new title page, an additional entry at the end of the Contents for the instructions, and with the instructions bound at the rear as pages 209-211.

The color plates have text printed on the versos. In the book's first state, as here, the punch-out waddle figures are printed on sheets of heavy card stock which are mounted on bound-in perforated stubs. In its second state, the waddle figures are not mounted on stubs but, instead, enclosed in the envelope along with the ramp. The second state of the cloth is light olive rather than bright green.


Bobbs-Merrill, who published The New Wizard of Oz, leased the plates to Blue Ribbon Books, a division of Doubleday, Doran, for the Waddle Book. Bobbs-Merrill had earlier gained possession of the plates from the original publisher of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Geo. M. Hill Co., through Baum & Denslow, after Hill went into bankruptcy in 1902.

"Copies with the Waddles are rarely found," (Greene & Hanff). Copies with the Waddles unassembled and remaining firm in their sheets are miraculous, only seen when monkeys have wings and water is lethal to witches of a certain direction.

BAUM, L. Frank. Wizard of Oz Waddle Book. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, n.d. [1934]. First edition, first state. Quarto. [1]. 210, [1] pp. Eight color plates by W.W. Denslow, six with die-cut figures. Original pictorial envelope a rear enclosing ramp and fasteners. Green cloth with pictorial onlay. Dust jacket.
Greene and Hanff p. 35-36.

Of related interest:

How Much Is An L. Frank Baum Inscribed Wizard Of Oz Worth?

L. Frank Baum Tells How To Read The Wizard Of Oz.

L. Frank Baum Remembers Mama, You'll Remember the Price.

Images courtesy of Aleph-Bet Books, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

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