Here’s one of the rarest L Frank Baum books, The Navy Alphabet, published by George M. Hill in 1900. A departure from Baum’s normal children’s books, this book has a page for each letter of the alphabet with associated Navy scene on 26 of them. Gorgeous illustrations by Harry Kennedy, lettering by Charles Costello. Oversized, 10.375″ by 12.5″, with original maroon-colored spine. First and only printing by Hill, with copyright notice on a separate leaf. According to the Book Collector’s Guide to Baum, these books “are especially prone to damage” and “hard for collectors to find, especially in decent condition.” Issued in response to American patriotism after the Spanish-American war and to coincide with Chicago’s hosting of the 34th Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1900.
OK, now about condition, which is pretty nice overall. The cover (front and back) has some light soiling and wrinkling, and edge and corner wear. The original maroon spine cloth is intact. Inside, the hinges are intact, but the text block is fragile, with the first gathering detached at the bottom and the first few gatherings loose, but holding (see side image). Prior owner’s name opposite title page, but no other writing noted. Title page, copyright page, and all alphabet pages are present and in quite good condition with light wear only. The color illustrations on every page are still quite vivid and fantastic!
Photos and description by Wonderful Books of Oz, copyright protected through the DMCA act of 1998.