These days, most Americans know L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as the source for the 1939 MGM movie musical, but in his lifetime most Americans probably knew it as the source for a stage musical that premiered in 1903 and continued to tour for years. And the biggest stars to come out of that extravaganza were Fred Stone and David Montgomery, playing the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman.
How popular were they? Baum's first sequel to Wizard was fully titled The Marvelous Land of Oz: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and it doesn't even include Dorothy or the Cowardly Lion. (They reappeared only in the third book.) Baum adopted the Tin Woodman's pre-metallic name in the stage script--Nick Chopper--for his books.
The emotional high point of the first half of Land is the reunion of straw and tin men (shown here). They have been separated by their responsibilities to rule the Emerald City and Winkie Country, but at the end of that book, the Scarecrow cheerfully abdicates his throne and says, "We have decided never to be parted in the future."
In succeeding books, however, the pair does separate. The Tin Woodman moves into a new castle made entirely of tin. The Scarecrow commissions a palace shaped like a giant corncob, about equidistant between his friend's home and the Emerald City.
Baum didn't leave his stars living apart, however. The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918) opens with them reunited:
The Tin Woodman sat on his glittering tin throne in the handsome tin hall of his splendid tin castle in the Winkie Country of the Land of Oz. Beside him, in a chair of woven straw, sat his best friend, the Scarecrow of Oz. At times they spoke to one another of curious things they had seen and strange adventures they had known since first they two had met and become comrades. But at times they were silent, for these things had been talked over many times between them, and they found themselves contented in merely being together, speaking now and then a brief sentence to prove they were wide awake and attentive.Baum never mentions the Scarecrow's own castle in this book; inconsistency rarely bothered him.
The plot of Tin Woodman has the title character tracking down the young woman he was engaged to marry back before Wizard, when he was an ordinary woodchopper. That engagement ended after Nick Chopper found he no longer had a heart, and then he rusted in the forest. But now that he has both a heart and an oil can, a wandering youth asks him, don't you have a obligation to marry that young woman?
So the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the youth set out to find the fiancée. Nick admits he doesn't love her--his heart is kind but not loving, he says. But he feels confident she's still pining for him, so it would be unkind to deprive her of his company. In the end, after many difficult adventures, it turns out his premise is mistaken.
But is Nick really incapable of loving, or is he simply incapable of loving that woman? After losing his chance for a show marriage, the Tin Woodman gladly returns home with what the book calls his "chosen comrade": the Scarecrow. "The two friends were sure to pass many pleasant hours together in talking over their recent adventures," Baum assures us.
To quote a Winkie on page 15:
"Perhaps our Emperor is queer," admitted the servant; "but he is a kind master and as honest and true as good tin can make him; so we, who gladly serve him, are apt to forget that he is not like other people."