The Oz Toy Book

The Oz Toy Book: Cut-outs for the Kiddies

Introduced by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

It’s no secret that since I was a boy I’ve had a passion for making things out of paint and card. I seem to have had a pair of scissors in my hand for as long as I can remember. On my blog, Artlog, I’ve posted about my love of the art of ‘ Toy Theatre’, and I’ve written at length about my practice of making articulated maquettes out of painted card as a part of my discipline as a painter. There’s no doubt that the two are connected. ‘Cutting-out’ was one of the great pleasures of my childhood. All I can say is that had I ever laid eyes on the book I’m about to share with you here, I would have thought I’d died and gone to Cut-Out Paradise.


The Oz Toy Book; cut-outs for the kiddies, was published in 1915 by Reilly & Britton. The publisher used artwork drawn by regular Oz illustrator John R. Neil, though neglected to tell the author Frank L. Baum about the publication, perhaps because it was originally intended as a promotional ‘give-away’ to encourage sales of the books. Clearly it was produced with much care, and so whatever had originally been intended, it was eventually released as a pay-for-product.


When he found out, Baum was impressed neither by the the product… he never liked Neil’s illustrations… nor by the fact that the The Oz Toy Book had been published without his knowledge or permission.


The book consists of 16 full-color pages containing 54 cut-out paper characters from the first nine Oz books. The sheets were perforated and held in place between its covers with ribbons, so they could be removed for cutting-out with no tearing from the spine.


Baum persistently lobbied his publisher to release Neil, and made several suggestions for a replacement. However, due to his good relationship with the publisher, Neil remained, and Baum eventually desisted.

To date only four complete and intact copies of The Oz Toybook are known to have survived. In the image below, one of those copies has been dismantled and presented framed.


In 1994, eighty years after the publication of the original book, illustrator Eric Shanower produced his own companion piece, The Oz Toy Book Volume 2. In comparison to the sumptuous, full colour character sheets of the original, this ‘second’ volume, is essentially a ‘colouring-book’, with all the images reproduced in black and white.


All images of the 1914 book courtesy of the Mel Birnkrant Collection.

Read about the Monster Rupert Cut-Out Book HERE.

This post originally appeared on Artlog, a blog by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and is reposted here with permission from CH-J.

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