To Your Tattered Oz Books Go: With Philip Jose Farmer

My first job writing was at 19 years old for the mighty Bartonville News. Our town in central Illinois had 7,300 residents and the locals relied on it.

My reviews were compelling, colorful (OK, bland) restaurant columns about such venues as the Airport Lounge, The
801 Club, Fairview Farms (crispy chicken!) and Red & Rosie’s Tap.

On Collecting Books In A Series

I then wrote for a tristate rock newspaper, The Prairie Sun. Hired as a proofreader, my editor let me write an occasional record review and let me interview Alice Cooper and The Ramones (I even got a photo credit on that one). Heady stuff for a 20-something kid.

One day my editor said, “Go to the south side” and visit Philip Jose Farmer. I was familiar with his books. Farmer had roots in Peoria, moving back to my hometown to rekindle his writing career.

oz book

I eagerly drove to meet him, expecting a more intense man than the calm gentleman I encountered. We talked his basement about his roots, Bradley University (we both attended, he in the 1940s, me in the 1970s), and his unusual
relationship with Kurt Vonnegut.

His basement was a wonderland. A desk and recliners where he sat and smoked a pipe. Writer’s awards on tables, many bookcases, and dirigibles and other flight-themed toys hanging from the ceiling as if flying. He collected toys.

One bookcase shelf caught my eye as it had a dozen Oz books.  Farmer was an avid collector. I had only known
of The Wizard of Oz; Farmer explained there were 50 different Oz books written by several authors. Farmer preferred those by L. Frank Baum. I scoured central Illinois looking for titles he did not have, or books in terrific condition to replace the tattered ones.

I began to collect them myself and amassed over 50. Value? Condition is important as they were cheaply bound and tended to fray. First editions bring more as well. I sold for $3 to $5. A first edition, crisp and unused copy of The Wizard
of Oz Waddle Book he paid me $500 for! A fortune then. (Today this book, complete with unused Waddle cutouts, would bring $5,000 to $10,000.) Common frayed later editions of poor quality may still only bring $5 to $10. A recent 
sale of a mint-condition, signed first edition brought $15,000.

Go ahead. Google us. Three former sothebyscom associates and two art historians
on staff. You read about us in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Fortune
magazine. Do you have valuable first editions for sale or an estate to settle? Contact us!
We have sold the contents of museums and collections for USF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Always buying rare and valuable items. Cash or auction.
We make house calls statewide.

This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.

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