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The Royal Book of Oz 1921 | First Edition Identification Guide

The Royal Book of Oz (1921) is the fifteenth in the series of Oz books, and the first to be written after L. Frank Baum‘s death. Although Baum was credited as the author, it was written entirely by Ruth Plumly Thompson.


Thompson - Royal Book Of Oz 1921 First Printing
The Royal Book of Oz 1921 first printing

The Scarecrow is upset when Professor Woggle-bug tells him that he has no family, so he goes back to the corn-field where Dorothy Gale found him to trace his “roots.” When he fails to return, Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion set out to search for him. They meet an elderly knight, Sir Hokus of Pokes. They also meet the Doubtful Dromedary and the Comfortable Camel. Together, they have several curious adventures while searching for the Scarecrow.

In this novel the Scarecrow discovers that, in a previous incarnation, he was human. More specifically, he was the Emperor of the Silver Islands, a kingdom located deep underground beneath the Munchkin region of Oz, inhabited by people who resemble Chinese people. When Dorothy first discovered the Scarecrow (in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) he was hanging from a beanpole in a cornfield; it now develops that this pole descends deep underground to the Silver Islands. The Emperor of the Silver Islands had been transformed into a crocus by an enemy magician; this magical crocus had sprouted and grown into the beanpole all the way up to the surface of the earth. When the farmer placed his scarecrow on the beanpole, the spirit of the transformed Emperor entered the Scarecrow’s body, causing him to come to life.

The Scarecrow digs at the base of the beanpole and slides down the beanpole to the Silver Islands. The islanders hail him as the Emperor, returned to save his people. After spending some time in his former kingdom ruling the quarrelsome Silver Islanders, the Scarecrow decides to return to Oz and continue his carefree existence there. The islanders, however, are reluctant to let him go, and plot to change him back into his human form, an 85-year-old man. Dorothy and her party reach the Silver Islands, rescue the Scarecrow from the islanders, and accompany him back to the Emerald City. Sir Hokus, the Comfortable Camel, and the Doubtful Dromedary become residents of the Emerald City.

Sir Hokus and the Comfortable Camel return as principal characters in The Yellow Knight of Oz.

The Royal Book of Oz First Edition Book Identification Points

Please refer to the gallery for detailed images of binding(s) and dust jackets.

Ruth Plumly Thompson - The Royal Book of Oz 1921 First Edition Identification Points
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1921The Royal Book of OzReilly & Lee Co., [1921]First edition. Illustrated by John R. Neill, 303 pages.

Textual points: Pictorial self-endpapers in black and white.

Pages 305-312 contain publisher’s advertisements for the Oz series; these advertisements were retained in reprints of the book for many years.

Color plates: 12 full-color inserts, some tipped in, some bound in. The plates are printed on stock coated only on the printed side. The plate facing the title page is tipped in; bound-in plates facing pages 30, 47, 78, 95, 126, 143, 174 , 191, 238 and 255; the final plate is tipped in facing page 286. The caption on the plate facing page 255 has a misprint: “Scarecorw’s” for “Scarecrows”.

Binding: light-gray cloth, with pictorial paper label in colors. Spine imprint reads: “Reilly   |   & Lee”.

Size of leaf: 9 by 6 1/2 inches. Thickness of volume: 1 3/8 inches.

An issue with the imprint of the Copp, Clark Co., Limited, of Toronto on the title page and spine is known. It is otherwise identical with the American first state.

Later Printings

Subsequent color-plate printings correct the misprint on the plate facing page 255. The four plates facing pages 126, 143, 174, and 191 have been relocated so that they face pages 142, 159, 190, and 207. The earliest of the later printings is also bound in light-gray cloth with the plates printed on stock coated only on the printed side. Later states are bound in dark-gray, gray-green, or blue cloth. They have plates of stock coated on both sides. Around 1935, the color plates were discontinued.

The Royal Book of Oz First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Points

First edition binding(s) and various dust jacket printings identification.


  • Wikipedia
  • Bibliographia Oziana – Haff, Greeme, Martin. 2002

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