Wednesday, July 14, 2010


L. Frank Baum book collector then and now. Shapiro diving for the wire to win the track meet for Rosemead High School, Rosemead, California,,,1964

Mark Shapiro July 14, 2010,

Book Chase
The problem is I want to read it all but I fall farther behind every day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010Meet the Wizard, Part II

Guest Blogger Mark Shapiro

My introduction into the world of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum began at the Long Beach swap meet in Long Beach, California when I came across a young couple selling artifacts they had found in their grandfather’s attic.

I had never seen the Wonderful Wizard of Oz book, nor knew of L. Frank Baum despite having a Masters in Journalism and having been a teacher up to that point. I walked by the book and then it struck me to go back to ask how much the book was going for. The young man said one dollar and, this being a swap meet where bartering is common, I said I would take it for fifty cents. A deal was struck.

Four months later as I was going to visit my wife’s parents in Spokane, Washington, I saw in the airplane magazine an article on L. Frank Baum and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The article stated that the book was worth $10,000 and, to my astonishment,a it was like having the spirit of L. Frank Baum invade my soul.

From that point on, I dedicated my life to researching and finding anything Baum. Like all collectors, I made many mistakes in purchasing books I thought were first edition and first state until i purchased the Bibliographia Oziana by Greene,Hanff,Martin,Haff and Greene. I then spent six months digesting this information which has led me to accumulate over 450 L. Frank Baum and William Denslow books (Denslow being the illustrator on the Wonderful Wizard of Oz). I have spent the past 38 years coming across the books and other items related to Oziana through swap meets, eBay, auctions and private parties.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chicago and New York: Geo.M.Hill Co, 1900, 261 pages, had an initial printing of only 10,000 copies of which approximately a third were first state and, of those, approximately 2,000 were in the B binding. On the book’s spine, the first state, and rarest of this book, has the “O” outside the “C” to spell the abreviation “co” following Geo. M. Hill - whereas the second state binding has the “O” inside the larger letter “C.”

14 of the more than 450 books in Mark's collection
Lyman Frank Baum (15 May 1856 - 6 May 1919) was an American author of children's books best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen novel sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a host of other works (55 novels in total, plus four "lost" novels, 82 short stories, over 200 poems, and an unknown number of scripts, and many miscellaneous writings.) The highest priced Wonderful Wizard of Oz in second state, and second state binding, with an inscription by Baum went for $152,500 at Christies Auction House in 2002.

I have never sold any of his books, for they are the children I never had. The Smithsonian Library in Washington is interested in housing my collection for posterity one day.

Freda and Mark Shapiro
Having been written up in various magazines and newspapers throughout the country and in dedicating my blog, WizardofBaum, to everything Oz and beyond, I feel the spirit of L. Frank Baum in me to help keep him alive in an ever changing world. I have been a guest speaker at many conventions and it gives me inner warmth to share not only the world of L. Frank Baum but also the overall wonderment of books in general. My dear departed mom, Freda Shapiro , molded me into the collector I am by taking me to museums, book stores and libraries throughout my childhood.

(Thanks again, Mark, for sharing your collection with Book Chase readers.)
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