|The Bradford Edition
For the sake of this critique I'll focus on a single plate from The Marvelous Land of Oz. I picked it at random. It shows Jellia Jamb serving as translator when Jack Pumpkinhead meets the Scarecrow. The Bradford printing is shown at left. At first glance it doesn't seem awful by any means.
|The 1904 First Edition
But in my opinion the most disappointing difference between the two is the loss of all the detail in the original line art. Here is a close-up of Jellia Jamb's face. The original is on the left, the Bradford is on the right. These are both unadulterated scans from the two books.
It's just not good enough - and when one compares section by section, ALL of the color plates suffer from this problem of grainy, blobby, detail-less reproduction. Some of this loss of detail comes from the aforementioned poor registration of the Bradford printing. But if my basic scan above can capture the detail, then they should have been able to do so as well. Is Bradford deliberately not fixing things like bad registration because the first edition is also out of register? If that's the case, I wonder if we will get an ugly glue blob on page 221 of the Bradford edition of Ozma of Oz. The registration in Bradford's The Marvelous Land of Oz could have easily been fixed. Just to see if it were possible, I took my basic scan of the original plate above and attempted to bring the four colors into registration.
|Please CLICK to enlarge!
It took me seven minutes of work, including scan time, to align the image - and my results would have been better still had I scanned it at 1200 dpi instead of 600. Personally I would prefer the color plates looked good rather than accurate. Sadly, Bradford's color plates are neither.