Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip/Rivals

By the fourth book in Edith Lavell's Girl Scouts series, The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip, Ruth Henry's tactics against Marjorie Wilkinson cross the line into criminal activity. In addition to other tricks, she has a friend kidnap Marjorie and Frieda and hold them hostage so that they will miss the canoe races. Marjorie and Frieda are the only two girls who can handle a canoe better than Ruth, so if they are detained, Ruth will win.

Ruth is definitely another Lettie Briggs. In Canoe Trip, Ruth resents the troop captain, Miss Phillips, and feels like Miss Phillips picks on her. In truth, Miss Phillips reprimands Ruth when Ruth is purposefully late and inconveniences others. Ruth feels that Miss Phillips should make exceptions for her, since Ruth is just so important to the troop. Ruth thinks that Miss Phillips unfairly favors Marjorie and Frieda, but in truth, Marjorie and Frieda are model Scouts. Why wouldn't Miss Phillips like them?

In this passage from page 178 in The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip, Ruth is clueless that her scheming is getting her nowhere:
Marjorie had been too popular lately; she was having things her own way entirely too much. It was not good for any one girl to receive so much attention, Ruth thought; for the sake of the others in the troop, as well as for herself, she had regarded her prank as veritably charitable. But now she was almost beginning to regret it. For she knew that when the girl did finally appear, she would be the petted heroine of the party even though Ruth herself might win the cup. And who knew? Mr. Andrews might even suggest that the winner compete with Marjorie and Frieda! It was a strange thing that Ruth Henry had not learned by this time that her underhand scheming never got her anywheres. But each time she seemed to forget, and tried her mean practices all over again.
The wording of the next to last sentence is a bit odd. It is reproduced here exactly as it appears in the book.

At the beginning of the fifth book, The Girl Scouts' Rivals, it is apparent that Marjorie now hates Ruth, obviously as a result of the kidnapping. Take this passage from pages 5-6 as an example:
Mrs. Wilkinson welcomed Lily cordially, and they sat down on the porch to talk for a few minutes. It was then that Mrs. Wilkinson informed them that Ruth Henry had telephoned.

"What did she want?" asked Marjorie, annoyed at the mere mention of the name.

"She wanted you both to go over there this afternoon. She said—"

"Well, we're not going!" interrupted Marjorie. "We're going upstairs, and put on our kimonas, and talk and talk. And we don't want Ruth Henry!"

"Marjorie!"

"Mother, if you knew what she really is, you wouldn't blame us a bit. We avoid her whenever it's possible."
Marjorie is no longer willing even to try to be nice to Ruth. Unfortunately, the girls are still members of the same Girl Scout troop, so Marjorie is forced to endure Ruth at Girl Scout functions.

It has been interesting during these first five Girl Scouts books to see the gradual transformation of Ruth and Marjorie from best friends into sworn enemies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Product Links for the Judy Bolton Reprints

Several people are reporting problems finding all of the Judy Bolton softcover Applewood reprints on Amazon.com. In fact, I had trouble finding a few of them when I prepared my order. Here are direct links to all of the books that are currently available:

#1 The Vanishing Shadow
#2 The Haunted Attic
#3 The Invisible Chimes
#4 Seven Strange Clues
#5 The Ghost Parade
#7 The Mystic Ball
#10 The Riddle of the Double Ring
#11 The Unfinished House
#12 The Midnight Visitor
#14 The Clue in the Patchwork Quilt
#21 The Clue of the Stone Lantern
#23 The Black Cat's Clue
#26 The Clue in the Ruined Castle
#27 The Trail of the Green Doll
#28 The Haunted Fountain
#30 The Phantom Friend
#31 The Discovery at the Dragon's Mouth
#32 The Whispered Watchword
#35 The Hidden Clue

Keep in mind that some of the images are not the correct images. Amazon's Judy Bolton listings need to be cleaned up a bit.

A few of the books are still showing as not released yet, but most of them are already available.

The Judy Bolton Reprints

The first group of the Judy Bolton softcover reprints has been released by Applewood. The books that are currently available are #1-5, 7, 10-12, 14, 21, 23, 26-28, 30-32, and 35. I ordered all of these and received some of them today. The rest will be shipping soon. The books that I now have are pictured below.


The books measure 8 5/8 inches tall by 5 5/8 inches wide. These are high quality softcover editions. The paper is white, not gray like many modern softcover books, and is of good quality. It is not pulp paper. I believe that these are books which will hold up over time and can be read fairly easily without damaging the books.

These books were created by scanning the original Grosset and Dunlap editions. The text is the same familiar font, and all of the illustrations are accurately recreated and are placed in their proper positions inside the books. Thus, the insides of the books are facsimiles of the original editions.

The first printing books were used to create these editions, so The Haunted Attic has Judy's birthday mentioned on the party invitation that appears on page 160. Judy's birthday was only mentioned in the true first printing of The Haunted Attic from 1932 and was omitted from all later printings.

These books are available from Amazon.com for $10.17 each.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Girl Scouts' Good Turn/Canoe Trip

I mentioned in a recent post that the Girl Scouts series by Lavell has a slower pace than the series books that came later and that much time is giving to storytelling. In the third book, The Girl Scouts' Good Turn, there was one lengthy story told to the girls while they were on a brief trip. This story added to the feel of the book since it was a story about a haunted house, and the girls were inside the house during the telling of the story!

Also in The Girl Scouts' Good Turn, the Scouts attempt to help a poor girl, Frieda Hammer. Due to her upbringing, Frieda is sullen and refuses the friendship of the Scouts. Marjorie is the most interested of all the Scouts in helping Frieda and even begins to win Frieda's friendship, but Ruth makes a hateful remark within Frieda's hearing, causing Frieda to run away.

In the Girl Scouts books, Ruth is constantly causing Marjorie problems. The irony of it all is that the two girls were best friends before they began attending Miss Allen's school. Ruth treats Marjorie badly, yet expects Marjorie to stay her friend. Fortunately, Marjorie understands Ruth all too well, as indicated on page 166 of The Girls Scouts' Good Turn:
Marjorie and Ruth rode home in the train together. As soon as the girls were away from Miss Allen's, and there was no longer any rivalry raging between them, Ruth became her old self again, and expected to have Marjorie once more as her best friend. But Marjorie was not to be so easily won.
Ruth is also very conceited and strives to be the center of attention. She is always hoping to win badges and awards that the other girls do not have. From pages 4-5 of The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip, Ruth imagines herself a heroine:
"I hope you gals is all good swimmers," interrupted Michael, advancing slowly to the edge of the shore. "Purty ticklish business—canoeing is!

"Not in flat bottom canoes!" protested Marjorie. "Why I've had mine for nearly a year now, and never upset once!"

"But you never tried to navigate a stream like the Silver!" said the old man, reaching for his pipe and tobacco pouch. "There's one place in this here stream I'd be willing to bet a silver dollar somebody upsets!"

"Oh, where is it?" cried Ruth, delighted that all of the water was not to be so monotonous as it seemed to be in the locality of the boathouse. Already she had visions of the rest of the girls upsetting; and after steering her own canoe safely through, she saw herself effecting thrilling rescues. There were even medals in life-saving, she had read in the handbook; it certainly would be worth while to possess one, especially if it were the only one of its kind in Pansy troop.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Penny Parker July 2008 eBay Prices

The Penny Parker books are quite scarce with intact dust jackets. I have noticed that the books are coming up for sale far less often than they were around six to eight years ago. They are all scarce, and many of them are very scarce. It would be going too far to use RARE, but they have become a bit hard to find.

For someone who just now decides to build a complete set in dust jacket, it is going to be rather difficult. I feel like I had a lot more chances than buyers do now, and I found some of the prices to be prohibitive even then. What I did was pass on the ones that went too high and waited for another one. If I were buying the books now, I would not feel that I had the option to wait. The books are not coming up for sale often enough anymore.

Here are some recent results for Penny Parker books with dust jackets:

Vanishing Houseboat Penny Parker 1939 Mildred Wirt Item #320274937170

This book closed at $11.51. The jacket is a little rough, so the price was about on target. This is one of the easiest to find titles.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #3 MILDRED A WIRT 1940 HC DJ Item #270256052195

This book closed at $38.77. This is also one of the easiest to find titles, but the jacket is in very nice shape, so the price is on target.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #9 MILDRED A WIRT 1943 HC DJ Item #270256050890

This book closed at $51.78. The dust jacket is very nice, so the price is not surprising.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #10 MILDRED WIRT 1943 HC DJ Item #270256054392

This book closed at $61.00. This jacket is also very nice, and the price is about right. I have seen it go even higher in the past.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #11 MILDRED WIRT 1944 HC DJ Item #270256052900

This book closed at $51.00. I feel like #11 is slightly easier to find than some of the other higher-numbered titles, so it is not surprising that this one closed at a lower price than #10.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #15 MILDRED WIRT 1946 HC DJ Item #270256055560

This book closed at $338.33. This price is extreme. Whispering Walls is one of the harder to find titles, but it probably should have closed at around $100.00 or so. This is an example of two people wanting the book badly, and probably both of them have nearly complete collections, making them more desperate to purchase the book.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #17 MILDRED WIRT 1947 HC DJ Item #270256053529

This book closed at $91.00. If a Penny Parker book were going to sell for over $300.00, it should have been this one or Swamp Island.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #2 MILDRED A WIRT 1939 HC DJ Item # 270256654071

This book closed at $40.33, which is also about right. This one has the purple dust jacket, which is harder to find.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #4 MILDRED A WIRT 1940 HC DJ Item #270256653218

This book closed at $22.39, which is probably about right since this is an easier to find title.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #5 MILDRED A WIRT 1941 HC DJ Item #270256651516

This book closed at $59.78 and has the harder to find blue dust jacket.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #13 MILDRED WIRT 1945 HC DJ Item #270256655031

This book closed at $35.00, which is probably a little low.

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The Clock Strikes Thirteen by Mildred Wirt, HC with DJ Item #170240610544

This book closed at $9.99, which is quite low. The jacket is a little rough, but it should have sold at a higher price.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #14 MILDRED WIRT 1946 HC DJ Item # 270256652498

This book closed at $76.00, which is within the range of what one might expect this title to bring.

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PENNY PARKER GIRL MYSTERY #16 MILDRED WIRT 1947 HC DJ Item # 270256655596

This book closed at $102.50. This is one of the hardest to find titles, and I have seen it sell for over $200.00 in the past.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Girl Scouts at Camp

I have finished reading the second Girl Scouts book by Edith Lavell, The Girl Scouts at Camp. As the title indicates, this book tells the story of the two weeks that the Girl Scout Pansy Troop spends at camp in the country. The main plot involves the contest that Captain Phillips has created for the girls. The winner of the contest will earn a brand-new canoe. Both Ruth and Marjorie are keenly interested in the contest, and Ruth fears that Marjorie will win instead of her. Ruth is still jealous of Marjorie and even tells on Marjorie when Marjorie breaks a rule so that Marjorie will lose points in the contest.

This book has a slower pace than the previous book, and much time is spent around the campfire telling stories, such as ones about Hercules and other mythical heroes. These stories can go on for many pages. For instance, the Hercules story begins on page 177 and ends on page 185. While the stories are interesting, they do not suit my particular preference while reading series books. I skipped the Hercules story in order to get on with the story. As Lenora Whitehill would say, "I crave excitement!"

There is also a large amount of time given to describing various topics that relate to the Girl Scouts, such as passing the test to become either a first-class scout or a second-class scout. All of the Scout competitions are very important to the story. Of the different Girl Scouts series books that I have read so far, this series contains the most Girl Scout lore, which is not surprising since Edith Lavell was a Girl Scouts troop leader.

It is books such as these that Mildred Wirt Benson meant when she stated that she was tired of "namby-pamby" girls' series books. These books spend much time on unnecessary events such as storytelling and minute descriptions of ordinary activities. There is very little mystery, and any mystery is minor and resolved fairly easily.

Aside from the slow pace, I have greatly enjoyed this second Girl Scouts book. I skipped the Hercules story, which solved that problem, and even though the Girl Scout lore slows the book down, I do not mind reading about it. The main draw for this series, at least for the titles that I have read to this point, is the great rivalry between Marjorie and Ruth. Marjorie is obviously the main character, but the books switch to Ruth's point of view repeatedly so that we can eavesdrop on her jealous thoughts. Ruth has played one serious trick on Marjorie, but other than that, her actions have not been criminal.

This rivalry is like the one between the Dana Girls and Lettie Briggs, except that Lettie's tricks were often criminal, like resorting to poisoning the Dana Girls. In return, the Dana Girls were not very nice, either, and it is surprising that the Danas were not reprimanded for their actions.

In the Lavell books, Marjorie makes mistakes, but her mistakes are human mistakes and nothing that affects Ruth. So far Marjorie has been held to a very high standard. Ruth is petty, but not in the evil way of Lettie Briggs. The underlying theme of these first few (I am now on volume 3) Girl Scouts books is the rivalry between the girls and how jealousy causes problems.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part V

The Beverly Gray series is best read in order, since the events are sequential. It is one of my all-time favorite series, just behind Nancy Drew. I feel like everyone who likes series books should at least give it a try. For those who wish to try out the Beverly Gray series, there are certain titles that will work.

The first four books, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior, can be read without having read any of the others. Each book's plot takes place during one of Beverly's years in college. In fact, the first book that I read in the Beverly Gray series was Beverly Gray, Junior. I had found an A. L. Burt edition with dust jacket in a used bookstore. I bought it since I knew it had value and could always sell it if I didn't like it. The book made quite an impression on me. I still remember vividly where I was and the circumstances surrounding my reading of it. I also remember that I immediately began buying Beverly Gray books on eBay, and at that particular time, the pickings were slim. After a while, though, I had the complete set except for World's Fair.

It is only the series books that are the most important to me for which I remember the first reading so clearly. The other ones are Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and Trixie Belden. I believe I read my first Nancy Drew book in the summer that I turned seven. I remember so clearly spending a few hours reading the opening chapters of The Secret of the Old Clock while sprawled in a chair in the living room. That one day was the origin of my love of reading.

To go back to Beverly Gray, Career and World's Fair could probably be read just to try out the series (not that anyone who wants to try the series is randomly going to find World's Fair first), but I would not suggest these two titles as they are somewhat transitional between the College books and the World Cruise books.

World Cruise, Orient, Treasure Hunt, and Return are the books during which Beverly Gray and her friends take their world cruise. They travel to Great Britain, then through Europe, Egypt, the Middle East, India, China, and finally to some Pacific Island where there are cannibals. These books are best read as a group. They could be read as someone's introduction to the series, provided that World Cruise is the first one. The remaining titles in this group would be harder to follow as someone's first exposure to the series. This group of books is my favorite part of the series.

Reporter and Romance could both be read to try out the series, since the stories are mostly complete within each volume. Quest is another book in which Beverly travels to an exotic location and meets up with cannibals, and the story is complete in itself. Problem is the first Beverly Gray book that is like a Nancy Drew mystery. This story is complete in itself.

Adventure, Challenge, Journey, and Assignment are also all like the Nancy Drew mysteries and are good books to sample. Assignment is one of my favorites in the entire series.

Mystery and Vacation are both books that could be used to sample the series, but I do not recommend using either of them. I did not enjoy either book this time through, so I feel that they are among the weaker books in the series.

Fortune has Beverly and her friends back in an exotic location with superstitious natives and is also a good stand-alone book to try out.

Island Mystery, Discovery, Scoop, and Surprise are among the best books in the series, and any of them would be a good one to read as the first book.

As partially indicated above, my favorite Beverly Gray books are #6-9, #12, #13, #17, and #20-25.

Why do I like the Beverly Gray series? It is because the series appeals to my sense of adventure. Thrilling events occur almost constantly, so there is seldom a dull moment. Humor is also a very important part of the Beverly Gray series, and the character of Lenora Whitehill is a hoot.

Some people prefer their books to be plausible, so anyone who is like that will not like the Beverly Gray series. Most of Beverly's adventures are over-the-top and unlikely to happen in real life. The Beverly Gray series is like a soap opera, and it was described as a soap opera in one of the Yellowback Library articles. It is quite unlike any other vintage juvenile series. If you have never read a Beverly Gray book, give it a try. You have nothing to lose.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part IV

In June, I commented that the Ruth Fielding series was a likely inspiration for the Beverly Gray series. The plot elements from Beverly Gray, Senior are similar to plot elements in both Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures and Ruth Fielding at Golden Pass. Additionally, the plot of Ruth Fielding and Her Greatest Triumph is very much like the plot of some of the Beverly Gray books in which Beverly and her friends travel to exotic locations.

As I thought about it some more, I made a couple more connections. Ruth Fielding's dormitory burns down in Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures. Beverly Gray's dormitory meets the same fate in Beverly Gray, Freshman.

In the Adventure Girls series, also written by Clair Blank, the Adventure Girls attend Briarhurst College. Ruth Fielding's first school is Briarwood Hall. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

I pointed out in a recent post that the first Girl Scouts book by Edith Lavell reminds me not only of Ruth Fielding but of Beverly Gray. In The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School, two friends, Marjorie Wilkinson and Ruth Henry are unable to room together, just like how friends Beverly Gray and Anne White are unable to room together in Beverly Gray, Freshman. Additionally, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School has a large number of characters, too many to keep straight, and very little descriptive information is given, just like in the Beverly Gray books.

It is clear that several of these earlier series influenced Clair Blank. In Yellowback Library, No. 55, Anita Susan Grossman states:
Talking with people who were close to her, I learned of a Clair Moyer who was fun-loving and sociable. She may not have belonged to the Alpha Delta sorority, but she had a group of four friends who met regularly for years. One can see the kind of person she was from her stories, where friendship plays such a large role, and the key words are "merry," "gay," and "hilarious." Unlike other mystery series of the 1930s and 40s, the focus is on the group as much as the titular heroine. What we recall about many of the Beverly Gray books is not one particular detail, but the sense of a group of young people of both sexes travelling the globe to seek adventure . . . Part of this is due to the conventions of the genres within which she worked: one thinks of the Linger-Nots, the Meadow-Brook Girls, Blythe Girls, Motor Girls, Outdoor Girls, Campfire Girls, and other such peripatetic groups with names suggestive of outdoor activity; and also of school series whose individual books are framed by the academic calendar rather than by any single plot line. The episodic nature of the Beverly Gray books harks back to these earlier, more leisurely series, in contrast to the tightly-plotted Nancy Drew books, where every conversation has a direct bearing on the mystery, and humor is generally absent.
I agree on all points. The Beverly Gray series is like the earlier series books in that the books have a large cast of characters and the interaction between the characters is very important. At the same time, the action is greatly sped up, so the series is also very similar to the Nancy Drew because something exciting is always happening.

—to be continued

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part III

The idea that the Beverly Gray series could have influenced some of the Nancy Drew mysteries has occurred to me as I have read through some of the Beverly Gray books. There are at least two instances in which a certain plot element in a Beverly Gray book appeared later in a Nancy Drew book. It could just be a coincidence, but it is something to consider.

During volumes 6 through 8 (Grosset and Dunlap numbering), Beverly Gray and her friends cruise around the world on The Susabella. In volume 6, Beverly's friend, Jim, explains how he was given half of a treasure map (pages 76-77):
"That is he gave me half of it," Jim said. From his pocket he brought a soiled, ragged piece of paper and spread it out on the red-checkered tablecloth. "He believed if he kept half and I had only half I could not run off with his treasure and no one would bother to steal only a half from him." He ran his finger along the ragged edge. "You see neither half is any good without the other. I couldn't find the treasure without his half."

"But could he find it without your half?" Lenora asked.

Jim shook his head. "No, and that is one thing I can't understand. Slim must have been hard pressed for a friend and a means to preserve the map or he never would have trusted me with half of it."
Without getting into too many plot-spoiling details, Beverly eventually sees the other half of the treasure map before it is destroyed, memorizes it, and copies it down from memory. In Beverly Gray on a Treasure Hunt, the friends travel to a Pacific island in search of the treasure with their enemies in hot pursuit and even must deal with a stowaway. After their arrival on the island, Beverly's enemies attack, holding the ship's crew hostage.

This is all rather similar to the plot of the Nancy Drew mystery, The Quest of the Missing Map, and of course, the Nancy Drew book was published after Beverly Gray volumes 6 through 8. In The Quest of the Missing Map, Nancy becomes friends with the Smith family, who has a torn half of a treasure map. From pages 19-20 of the original text version:
"Father took a parchment map from the safe," Mr. Smith went on, "but instead of giving it to either of us, he tore it diagonally from corner to corner into two pieces. 'You're to share the treasure equally,' said he, 'and to make sure of that I am dividing the map in such a way that no one can find the buried chest without both sections.' "
Much of the plot of the Nancy Drew book centers around the search for the other half of the map. Meanwhile, villains pursue Nancy at every turn in hopes of obtaining the Smith family's half of the map. Nancy even memorizes the map and makes a copy of it. Once Nancy and her friends have obtained both halves of the map, they sail to the treasure island. The villains pursue Nancy and her friends on their trip to the treasure island, and one of the villains stows away on their boat. Upon their arrival to the treasure island, Nancy and her friends discover that the villains had arrived before them.

There is also a strong similarity between one scene in Beverly Gray's Return and a scene in the Nancy Drew mystery, The Clue in the Old Stagecoach. In Beverly Gray's Return (pages 135-139), Beverly and two other people are asked to meet one of the villains at a certain house. As Beverly and her two companions wait, the Countess de la Fournay arrives and urges them to leave immediately, for there is grave danger. After the group leaves with the Countess in her car, they see the house explode from a nearby hillside. They are shaken by their narrow escape.

In The Clue in the Old Stagecoach (pages 136-139), the Monteiths request that Nancy meet them at a deserted farmhouse so that they can a discuss a mystery that the Monteiths need help solving. Nancy, Bess, and George arrive at the appointed time and wait outside near their car, deciding not to wait inside the farmhouse. Soon, the earth begins shaking, and the farmhouse collapses. Nancy and her friends are horrified that they were nearly killed.

I also find some similarity between one of the Beverly Gray books and one of the Vicki Barr books. Beverly Gray's Secret was published in 1951 while Peril Over the Airport was published in 1953. In Beverly Gray's Secret, Beverly goes undercover at Barton Airline to discover whether Mr. Barton is guilty of producing counterfeit money. Beverly notices right off that Mr. Barton is very disorganized and relies too much on his employees. At the end of the story, it is revealed that someone was trying to ruin Mr. Barton's airline so that he would sell out. In Peril Over the Airport, Vicki Barr takes flight lessons from Bill Avery, who runs an airport. Bill is very disorganized. Just like in the Beverly Gray book, someone tries to force Bill Avery out of business.

—to be continued

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part II

Beverly Gray's Vacation was one of the books that the reviewer in MASR did not like. One of the reasons was because The Susabella goes to the rescue of another ship shortly before it reaches Canada. The rescue does not advance the plot in any fashion and is pointless aside from adding to the length of the book. This type of event frequently happens in the Beverly Gray series. To understand why, we must go back to the beginning of the series when it was first published by A. L. Burt.

In Yellowback Library, Issue No. 55, Anita Susan Grossman writes about the publishing history of the Beverly Gray series:
All in all, the correspondence with Burt reveals not only the astonishing speed of mail service by modern-day standards (letters pass between the New York office and Philadelphia and back in two days) but an equally commendable promptness with which the publisher read manuscripts submitted to them. The rapid pace set by the publisher--and followed by the author--found its counterpart in the plot of the Beverly Gray books themselves, where events follow one another in breathless, pell-mell fashion. A more demanding publisher might have asked about matters of coherence and plot logic, but from the written evidence, the Burt Company's chief concern was the number of words in the manuscript and the speed with which their commodity could be supplied to the juvenile market. Literary criticism was limited to general remarks in passing.
Also from the Yellowback Library article:
Within ten days Van Deventer reported that their reader enjoyed The Adventure Girls at K Bar O very much and "thought a series of this nature would be a good one to add to our list." How soon could she supply them with two other volumes of at least 45,000 to 50,000 words?
A. L. Burt apparently cared more about the length of the books and how quickly they could be published than the tightness of the plots. Since Clair Blank was asked to increase the length of her stories, she probably did this by adding events that were not necessary to the central plot. Each of the early Beverly Gray books is lacking a central plot that is followed from start to finish; rather, each story consists of several subplots that are loosely tied together. The typical Beverly Gray story often meanders from one unrelated event to another. I have to think that even Grosset and Dunlap did not make specific demands of Clair Blank, at least at first, as some of the Grosset and Dunlap books also have loosely-connected plots.

I did notice some changes in the Grosset and Dunlap books towards the end of the Beverly Gray series. In each of the earlier books, the main story arc (or the last part of the several unconnected story arcs) ends by at least one to two chapters before the end of the book. In the last one to two chapters, the story shifts into a new plot. This new plot is the lead-in for the next book.

By the final ten volumes in the series, the last chapter of the book resolves the plot of the current book, and there is no longer a chapter that leads into the next book. The final paragraph of each book may mention something about Beverly having further adventures, but there is not necessarily any indication of what the adventures will be. Some of the books have a short teaser that is placed after the end of the story, such as this one at the end of Beverly Gray's Vacation:
One of Beverly's most thrilling adventures lies ahead of her, as she and her gay companions set sail once more in the yacht Susabella. Don't miss the next exciting story, BEVERLY GRAY'S FORTUNE.
Another change that occurred is that the stories became shorter. The Burt books are around 250 pages each, longer than the usual Grosset and Dunlap series book, which in the 1930s, tended to be around 220 pages. The earlier Grosset and Dunlap titles up to Beverly Gray's Romance are around 230-250 pages. Beverly Gray's Quest and Beverly Gray's Problem are 210-220 pages long. Beverly Gray's Challenge is 207 pages. The rest of the books in the series are around 180 pages long.

—to be continued

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part I

Back in April, I made some comments about the Beverly Gray series, and I mentioned the article that appeared in Issue 31 of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review. The reviewer gave his opinion about the final ten volumes of the Beverly Gray series, which are the only ones that he read. The reviewer felt that the books were not all written by the same person since some of the books are better than others, and also because a few of the books do not have the usual large cast of unnecessary characters.

In the past month, I have reread all of the Beverly Gray books, in some cases skimming a title or two, but I have gone back through all of them. This was my fourth time through the entire series, with the exception of World's Fair in which this was my third time. I feel like the same person did write the entire series. The characterizations remain consistent throughout the series, and the interactions between the characters are also consistent. When I read the Ruth Fielding series, the characterizations and interactions between characters shifted slightly each time the ghostwriter changed from Foster to Ward to Wirt. Of course, I knew to look for a difference, since I knew that the Fielding books were written by different people, but the differences in the Ruth Fielding books are tangible.

Some of the Beverly Gray books are better than others, and this was one reason why the reviewer in MASR thought that there were different writers. A point I wish to make is that Mildred Wirt Benson wrote many of the early Dana Girls books, which are generally considered to be not as good as the early Nancy Drew books. It has been speculated that the Dana Girls books received the rejected Nancy Drew plots. The Dana Girls books tend to have wacky stories that can be a bit hard to believe, regardless of which ghostwriter was involved. Even a good writer can produce something that is not quite up to par due to a weak plot, or in Benson's case, a weak plot outline provided by the Syndicate.

Clair Blank had some great ideas for most of the Beverly Gray stories, but she fell a bit short on some of the plots. In my fourth journey through the series, I found that the titles that I did not like quite as much as the rest are Beverly Gray at the World's Fair, Beverly Gray's Mystery, and Beverly Gray's Vacation. I do recall that I loved all of the books in the series the first two times that I read them; I want to make that clear. However, after repeated readings, some books are not going to hold up as well.

I did not like these titles as much because I found that I did not care that much about what happened to certain secondary characters. In Beverly Gray at the World's Fair, I found that I did not care about the man who died, and I did not care about his sister. I also grew tired of the endless descriptions of the World's Fair. In Beverly Gray's Mystery, I did not care about the missing horse, Star of the East, or his owner, and there were too many people running around with foreign-sounding names.

In Beverly Gray's Vacation, the plot centers around Phyllis Tanner, who is a secondary character who does not appear that often. Phyllis is in trouble because her brother, Neal, is accused of theft. Even though Beverly and her friends have never met Neal, they are certain he is innocent, although their host and everybody else is certain that Neal is guilty. It was not a particularly compelling read this time, and I did not care about Neal or Phyllis at all.

—to be continued

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School

As I have continued reading the first book in the Girl Scouts Series by Edith Lavell, I have listed more names of characters:

Marjorie Wilkinson—an athletic girl, who is liked by most everyone
Ruth Henry—Marjorie's friend, who is jealous of her
Lily Andrews—Marjorie's roommate who is very rich and overweight
Jack Wilkinson—Marjorie's brother
Roger Harris—Jack's friend, who likes Doris
John Hadley—a Boy Scout, who likes Marjorie
Doris Sands—a freshman
Ethel Todd—Ruth's roommate, a sophomore and member of the sorority
Marion Guard—a sophomore and member of the sorority
Ada Mearns—a sophomore
Frances Wright—a sophomore, patrol leader
Evelyn Hopkins—a freshman
Mae Van Horn—a freshman
Anna Cane—a freshman
Edith Evans—a junior
Marion Guard—a sophomore
Miss Allen—the head of the school
Miss Phillips—the gym teacher and Girl Scouts Captain
Miss White—the Latin teacher

This isn't everyone. There are more of them! The author does not describe the physical appearance or personality of the majority of them. So far, the only characters for which I have a definite picture in my mind are Marjorie, Ruth, and Lily. The rest of them are just there in the background.

The plot of the book centers on Marjorie and Ruth. Marjorie is accepted into the exclusive school sorority when she is not even that interested. Ruth wants more than anything to become a member, but she is not accepted. Ruth is jealous and later comes up with the idea of the school forming a Girl Scout troop. The idea is approved by the faculty, and a troop is formed.

The faculty wishes to take the selection of members out of the hands of the students, so any girl who is to become a Scout must have at least an 80% in all of her classes and must be involved in athletics. Ruth is soon accepted as are several other girls.

Marjorie greatly desires to become a Scout, and she resigns from the sorority. Soon, too many girls resign from the sorority, and it is forced to disband. Marjorie studies to improve her Latin grade and feels that she has done well on her Latin test.

Unknown to Marjorie, Ruth's jealousy causes her to tamper with Marjorie's Latin test when she has the opportunity, and Marjorie's low grade prevents her from becoming a Scout. Ruth is at first glad to cause her friend to feel the way she felt when she was kept out of the sorority, but in time, Ruth's conscience makes her feel guilty.

The theme of jealous best friends is often repeated in juvenile literature. This story parallels the plot of Sweet Valley High #30, Jealous Lies. In Jealous Lies, Sandra Bacon does everything she can to keep her best friend, Jean West, out of the school sorority. Sandra is jealous of everything Jean has achieved and wants to remain a part of something that Jean cannot have.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Girl Scouts Series by Edith Lavell

I have finished rereading the Beverly Gray series. I will have some comments to post, but I have not finished writing them yet.

Very conveniently, I just acquired the final volume I needed in the Girl Scouts Series by Edith Lavell. As is frequently the case with these older series, it was not the final volume that I still needed; rather, it was volume 2, The Girl Scouts at Camp. I now have the complete set of ten volumes in hardcover with dust jacket. I have been working on this set since sometime in 2005. It has taken a long time since I restricted my purchases to books with dust jackets.

The books in the series are:

1. The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School, 1922
2. The Girl Scouts at Camp, 1922
3. The Girl Scouts' Good Turn, 1922
4. The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip, 1922
5. The Girl Scouts' Rivals, 1922
6. The Girl Scouts on the Ranch, 1923
7. The Girl Scouts' Vacation Adventure, 1924
8. The Girl Scouts' Motor Trip, 1924
9. The Girl Scouts' Captain, 1925
10. The Girl Scouts' Director, 1925

I have already read the Mary Louise Gay series, which was also written by Edith Lavell. Since I enjoyed those books very much, I expect that I will also enjoy Lavell's Girl Scouts Series. As I now have the complete set, I have begun to read the first book, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School.

I am currently on the third chapter. It has been interesting thus far, with new students Ruth Henry and Marjorie Wilkinson arriving at Miss Allen's School. Ruth Henry is described as a small girl with dark hair, and Marjorie Wilkinson is described as having fair hair. The two girls are good friends but are unable to room together since they did not enroll soon enough. Marjorie appears to be the main character in the series.

I am having a little trouble keeping up with all of the characters so far, as quite a few have been introduced rather rapidly with very little descriptive information (shades of Beverly Gray here). In addition to Marjorie and Ruth, we have:

Ethel Todd—Ruth's roommate, a sophomore and member of the sorority
Marion Guard—a sophomore and member of the sorority
Lily Andrews—Marjorie's roommate who is very rich and overweight
Ada Mearns—a sophomore
Doris Sands—a freshman
Evelyn Hopkins—a freshman
Mae Van Horn—a freshman

To this point, the storyline centers around Ruth Henry wishing to join the exclusive sorority while Marjorie does not appear to be interested. I skipped ahead a little bit, and it looks like the sorority may get disbanded, and the girls become Girl Scouts. Aside from the bit about the Girl Scouts, this book is reminding me of the second Ruth Fielding book, Ruth Fielding at Briarwood Hall.

I am also wondering whether this series could have influenced Clair Blank with the Beverly Gray series. After all, the Beverly Gray series begins with Beverly and her friend, Anne White, entering college. They are unable to room together as they arrive too late. They have way too many friends who all seem alike, just like the girls in this first Girl Scouts book.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More eBay Stuff

Series Book VICKI BARR: FLIGHT 908 1962 1st DJ Item #200237042600

Holy moly! Two of the big spenders went at it again, and this book in dust jacket closed at $355.00.

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Series Book NANCY DREW: CLUE OF TAPPING HEELS 1942 w/DJ Item #190234978998

This book closed at $24.49. Normally, this would be fine, but the top half of the front panel is noticeably faded. I'm sure it is not camera flash, as there is a straight line where the fade begins. The seller does not mention the fade, but it is right there in the picture for everyone to see. Do buyers even pay attention to these things?

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NANCY DREW IS BACK ! Item #160259804146

I wasn't aware that she ever left!

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Nancy Drew Vintage COMPLETE BOOK SET 1-56 RARE Cookbook Item #190234988977

I am wondering which one is supposed to be RARE—the complete set of #1-56 or the Nancy Drew Cookbook? Maybe both? I just found six complete sets of the matte ND #1-56 in the completed listings on eBay. The sets are not RARE. I found four completed listings of the Nancy Drew Cookbook from the 1970s, so they are not RARE, either.

By the way, I bought a lot of 38 Nancy Drew books on eBay a couple weeks ago for a total cost of about $49.00 including shipping. I bought the lot to help with making a complete set to sell and for other related reasons. Included was the Nancy Drew Cookbook, and it turned out to be the first printing from 1973. Score!

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Nancy Drew Books (Complete Set) Matte Picture Cover Item #220254289018

Speaking of complete sets, this one closed at $554.57, which is one of the better prices that I have seen in a while. Normally, the complete sets of matte picture covers sell for $150.00-$350.00. Whenever I sell a complete set, I try to get around $250.00-$300.00, which breaks down to between $5.00 and $6.00 per book. The closing price for the above listing is close to $10.00 per book.

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Lot of 23 Dana Girl Mystery Stories BOOKS Carolyn Keene Item #330250406510

I have listed this one just to point out that whether buyers realize it or not, their primary competition is the resellers. The second-highest bidder for this lot is a reseller for the different series books. This particular reseller tends to bid somewhat aggressively for the books, and if she had won the lot, she would have been able to have turned it into a profit.

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AS NEW Lot of 4 APPLEWOOD Nancy Drew By Carolyn Keene Item #350076053901

This lot of four low-numbered Applewood editions closed at $93.00. The volumes are #3, 4, 5, and 6. A few of them are earlier printings, but not first printings. Amazon still has #3, #4, and #6 at $12.21 each and #5 at $17.95.

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I'm going to add one more thought to this post. From this message thread on eBay, oldbookshopnj made this comment:

My personal reaction, and I realize that this may not be shared by anyone else, is that "rare" is a term that is so blatantly overused on ebay that I start with an immediate negative perception whenever I see the word in a title.

So for the people who love to overuse the word RARE, I have the same reaction. I tend now to think that anything that is labeled as RARE is actually not RARE and wonder why I should even look at it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Few Auction Results

NANCY DREW Applewood "The Clue in the Jewel Box" 2004 Item #150266872468

This was a listing that I tried to find for my last post on the Applewood editions. It looks like completed search is working again, so I found it today. The seller states in the auction, "Sold 'as is' and 'for keeps' if you don't know the value of this item, don't buy it...I sell out of a hardship motivation...not out of greed." I actually don't have a problem with someone pricing a readily available book at $58.00. After all, any of us can try to get however much we want for something. Bidders need to decide whether the item is worth it. My problem with the listing is that the seller also states, "THIS IS THE HARD-TO-FIND VERY DESIREABLE APPLEWOOD ED." Um, no, it is not hard to find. I just checked Amazon again, and it is still available at $12.21.

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Blackwood HaLL NaNcy Drew Book Club Edition ScarCe Item #140245983014

The book club edition picture covers are much harder to find than the regular editions. This book is valued at $40.00 in very good condition in Farah's Guide, but the condition of this particular book is such that it amazes me that someone was willing to pay that much. I usually toss book club edition PCs in this condition into bulk lots which are sold for a low price per book. Maybe I should rethink that . . .

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Nancy Drew #23 TOLLING BELL HB DJ Rare AQUA EPs Nr Mint Item #150269260133

The endpapers are the darker type of blue multi endpapers, which are harder to find than the regular ones, but they are not RARE.

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NANCY DREW Lot Applewood Twisted Candles+ Carolyn Keene Item #200233424577

I'm impressed. This lot of four Applewood editions sold at $34.33, and it included Twisted Candles which is not readily available on fixed-price sites. There are a few good deals still left for the Applewood editions.

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Nancy Drew Applewood 9 The Sign Of The Twisted Candles Item #270251759717
Another good deal! This book sold at $27.77. I'm glad some of the Applewood buyers are getting good deals!

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Nancy Drew Applewood The Sign of the Twisted Candles Item #250265406625

And another one! This one closed at $26.01 and was probably bought to resell. For books that are supposed to be so scarce, there are quite a few coming up for sale, at least for some of the titles. I still believe that the supposed rarity is mostly hype.

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Clair Blank Beverly Gray At The World's Fair 1935 Item #120280276383

This book closed at $315.00, which is a little high for an example that does not have a dust jacket. The end prices for World's Fair are all over the place but are usually high, since the book is solidly scarce. From $100.00 to $200.00 is more what I would expect for one that does not have a dust jacket, although occasionally it has sold for less than $100.00. With a dust jacket, it usually does not sell for much more than $300.00 to $400.00 as most collectors are not willing to pay that much for it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More on the Applewood Editions

It sounds like some of these Applewood edition resellers are drawing some incorrect conclusions. I refer you to this listing:

AS NEW Applewood Brass Bound Trunk Nancy Drew HTF 1st Item #350076166650

The seller states:
Because the Applewood books are now out of print, they are becoming more difficult to find, and their value is steadily increasing. Although these books profess to be only reprints of the originals, their charm and craftsmanship continue to win the hearts of Nancy Drew fans, sometimes to the chagrin of Nancy purists. I believe that there is a format to enchant and enhance every imagination.
Huh? First of all, I am about as serious of a Nancy Drew collector as one can be, but I am most certainly not a Nancy Drew purist. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have always thought that a Nancy Drew purist was someone who only likes the original text books, #1-34. Aren't the Applewood editions the original text? Why would a purist have a problem with them?

The next level of Nancy Drew purist might be someone who only likes the original 56 hardcover books that were published by Grosset and Dunlap. I have never heard of any of these collectors having a problem with the Applewood editions. In fact, no one has a problem with them. We all like them just fine. Many of us bought the Grosset and Dunlap reprint of Old Clock from last year that has the revised text but the original Tandy art on the cover. It is a funky little collectible, and we like it.

I am a Nancy Drew collector who likes the original 56 books plus #57-175 and the Files (not as much but I like them) and who collects the library bindings. The library bindings are considered something extremely undesirable to the majority of collectors and have little value. I even like the Girl Detective books (at least the ones I have read), and most collectors seem to hate those! Therefore, I am more open-minded than many others.

To go back to the seller's comments, why would a Nancy Drew purist be "chagrined" that someone values a facsimile edition of the early Nancy Drew books? The definition of "chagrin" is "a keen feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or a disconcerting event." It is not "chagrin." We just think it is stupid.

The Applewood editions were supposed to be an inexpensive way to purchase the original text, but the older books can be purchased for less. Seriously. Hey, I don't have a problem with the older books being less expensive as it allows me to purchase items for my collection. So if all of the newbie buyers want to only buy Applewoods, I can have a better shot at the rest!

I understand why people want the Applewood editions, but I stand by my comments that buyers and even some of the resellers are not using common sense and that the books are not worth quite as much as people think they are. In the past week, I just saw one reseller purchase either #20 or #21 from another reseller on eBay for about $25.00, apparently not aware that Amazon still has them for $12.21 each. That reseller would have a far greater profit potential if he or she would purchase from Amazon instead. Get a clue!

My primary problem is that sellers were stating that the books were RARE when they were just out of print and not that hard to find. This was over a year ago before the prices really spiked. Some buyers apparently think that even #20 and #21 are hard to find because of the hype about the rest of the books. There have already been instances of #20 and #21 topping $100.00, never mind that they are available elsewhere for $12.21.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nancy Drew Format Numbers

There are some sellers and collectors who put an emphasis on the format numbers as given in Farah's Guide. I have never memorized the format numbers, so when a seller states that a book is "format 10" or "format 15," I have no idea what that means. Of course I could get out my Farah's Guide and look it up, but it is not necessary information, in my opinion. I look at a seller's picture of the book to know what it is. I can usually tell to within a few years of how old a book is by the outside of the book—the color of binding, the color of the print on the cover, and how thick the book is. The format numbers are not helpful to me. I have wondered for a long time whether I'm the only collector who pays no attention to format numbers.

I know what "format 1" is because it is the blank endpapers edition. I know what "format 2" is since I have closely examined early printings of the earliest Nancy Drew books in my quest for first printings. After the first two formats, I have no idea what the format number means. This is coming from someone who has had a Farah's Guide for 11 years. I have to believe that collectors who do not have a Farah's Guide at all have even less use for the format numbers than I do.

In fact, Farah's Guide tends to give too much information. I do not mean this in a bad way; Farah is very thorough, and this is good. However, for the practical purpose of identifying how old a book is, much of the information is irrelevant.

Sometimes the format information is very hard to understand. Here is one example:

For the first printing of The Secret in the Old Attic, Farah's Guide states, "This is one of only two known volumes produced in Format #5 but with the cover color of Format #6. See the 1944A printing of volume #20 also."

I remember once devoting around an hour of my time to figuring this one out by comparing various books. Unfortunately, I have now forgotten what exactly I determined. The first printing is supposed to be grayish blue while the third printing is aqua blue. Okay, wait. The first printing of Crumbling Wall is the same format as the third printing of Old Attic (I'm looking in Farah's Guide as I type this), so it should be a different color. I checked, and my first of Crumbling Wall is a different shade of blue than my first printing of Old Attic, so I'm okay again.

If I can get confused, I can imagine how confusing it is to people who don't have as many books to check. Part of the problem is that there are no color pictures in Farah's Guide for people to see. Of course, this is because it would raise the costs, so I'm not criticizing the guide. It is a fact, though, that the lack of color pictures is a real problem when the colors become one of the important minute details.

I scanned my first printing of Old Attic and my first printing of Crumbling Wall:


Even if Farah were able to provide color photos, it would still be a problem. The two books in the above scan look almost identical in color. I tried editing the scan to make them appear different, but I was unsuccessful. What is seen above is the original unedited scan. You can only tell the difference in person, and even at that, it is quite subtle. The third printing of Old Attic is supposed to be the same shade as the first printing of Crumbling Wall, and the above scan shows the first printing of Old Attic also looks almost just like the first printing of Crumbling Wall. For all practical purposes, the first and third printings of Old Attic are the same. I'm sure many people buy a third printing believing that it is the first printing. How would one know the exact shade of blue from a seller's picture? What about people who have some degree of color blindness? Not only it is hard to understand, but in the end it may be too much information.

Now to go back to my original point, which is that the format numbers are not important to me. Here is an auction that mentions the format number in the title of the listing:

NANCY DREW #4 Lilac Inn GOOD WS DJ Navy Sil Ends F12 Item #180261136405

It states that the book is "format 12." Great—I had to click on the listing to see what it is. I can see right off from the dust jacket that it is a late 1940s dust jacket. Now I know. Why not just state that it is from the 1940s? This is what I mean when I state that the format numbers are not helpful to me as a collector.

I do want to know whether anybody else feels this way, or do the rest of you know all of the format numbers? Does it help you for the seller to give the format number in addition to the other relevant information? Post a comment and let me know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Misleading Auctions and Search Problems

I mentioned this auction in a recent post:

The MYSTERY Of The TOLLING BELL NANCY DREW Keene DJ 1ST Item #270247821816

This was what I had to say about it:
This book closed at $41.00. I believe this seller was intentionally misleading buyers in the auction's title. "1ST" appears in the title of the listing while the description states that it is an early printing. The back panel of the dust jacket lists Cherry Ames to Veterans' Nurse, which makes makes it the second printing. The first printing dust jacket lists Beverly Gray #1-13 on the back panel and the back flap has an ad for the 4th Cherry Ames book.
I thought that was the end of it, but the book showed up for sale again!

The MYSTERY Of The TOLLING BELL NANCY DREW Keene DJ 1ST Item #270251328627

This time the book sold for $13.00. The pictures are identical and both descriptions are identical word for word. This just makes it even worse. What I think happened is that the winning bidder of the original listing realized after winning the auction that it was not the first printing and backed out. The seller then put the book back up for sale again and didn't take "1ST" out of the title, thereby misleading buyers again. The good news is that the second auction didn't go as high as the first one.

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I'm having trouble tracking completed auctions to see whether there are any unusual auction prices to report here. EBay completed items search is quite broken at the moment, or at the least, it is rather inconsistent. For instance, I just did a completed items search on Nancy Drew, and it has 1011 items as the total at the top of the first page but then 3551 total items at the top of the second page. I believe that there is a data corruption between eBay's different servers, so the results are different depending upon which server gives the results.

It has done this before several times before in the past, except with the current auctions, which is very bad. It is always a good idea, when running searches, to notice how many items are listed at the top of the page and see if it changes by more than a single-digit number from page to page. It will always fluctuate slightly, like 3551 to 3552, as items close or are listed. It shouldn't change by the hundreds or the thousands. If it changes by a large amount, you can reload the page repeatedly until you get the page that has the higher total at the top.

In fact, it is eBay's fault that I was able to purchase one of my first printing Nancy Drew dust jackets for a low price several years ago. It was Nancy's Mysterious Letter, in the second printing, which is the first printing dust jacket and the second printing book. That auction had an opening bid of $150.00, and I was the only bidder. The eBay search was very bad at that time, and it was doing what I described above. I believe that the book I won was one of the many listings that were dropped from some of the search pages, so many people missed it in their searches.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another Judy Bolton Format

I was alerted to this Judy Bolton auction in a comment that was made on my last post. It confirms that I did in fact remember correctly that I once owned a copy of The Mysterious Half Cat with burgundy staircase endpapers. I had avoided mentioning that format in my Judy Bolton formats page on my website, since there was always a chance that I had remembered it wrong.

After all, I clearly recall seeing two Nancy Drew Sampson Low/Macdonald UK editions in dust jackets in an antique shop around fifteen years ago—#2 and #5 in Nappi art. This was before the internet and before I began collecting foreign editions. I didn't buy them and regretted it later. I went back for them a few months later, but they were gone. I now know that those two titles were never published in the UK with the Nappi art in dust jacket. I remember them so clearly, yet I must not be remembering right. I have no idea what I really saw that day, and it is one of those mysteries that will never be solved.

So anyway, I now know that I remembered the Judy Bolton book correctly. Here are the endpapers from the recent auction:


Here is a photo that includes the front cover of the book:


Notice that the print and illustration on the front cover are also in burgundy. The question is whether all books that look like this on the outside have the burgundy staircase endpapers.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Scarcity of Early First Printing Nancy Drew Books

The auction for the 1930A-1 printing of The Secret of the Old Clock with an intact dust jacket has closed at $11,700.00. It was purchased to resell, as it is common knowledge that geowall is a reseller. We will see this book up for sale again, unless it is sold privately.

The holiday weekend likely affected the outcome of this auction, as I thought it would go higher. My estimate was $15,000.00. What I find the most interesting is that there are quite a few serious collectors, such as myself, who do not own this first printing in dust jacket, yet none of us purchased the book. As I have already stated, I am not willing to pay more than around $500.00 for a book, though I admit that I would make an exception for the first printing of Old Clock in dust jacket. Even so, I would probably not pay more than $1,000.00 for it, and it would have to be a case of me seeing it in person in a store or something like that. You know what they say about "a bird in the hand . . ."

The serious Nancy Drew collectors who bid on this auction were not willing to win at all cost. The rest of us did not bid at all. There is no doubt that we all wanted it badly, and many of us are known for paying high prices for the things we want. It is possible that most of us could not afford it. Since I have enough credit, I could have come up with the funds, but there is no way I'm going in debt for a book. I'm sure there are others, like me, who could have put the purchase on a credit card but chose not to do so.

Since there were few bidders, I have to believe that most people who need it are holding out for the possibility of getting one for a much more reasonable price. The book has a value of $10,000 or more, but most people are not willing or able to pay that much.

I have little doubt that there are more of them than we think there are. I suspect that there are at least several dozen examples of The Secret of the Old Clock in existence with intact, first printing dust jackets. So, where are they?

After I began collecting the earlier Stratemeyer Syndicate works, such as the Outdoor Girls, the Girls of Central High, and the Moving Picture Girls, I realized that these earlier books are much harder to find in dust jacket than the early Nancy Drew books. All three of these series commenced in 1913 and 1914. Nearly 20 years in age difference can make a huge difference in how hard it is to find a book with an intact dust jacket. Most all of these earlier series books in dust jacket are already in collections. When a book is 95 years old, the original owner just about has to be already gone. Since the books were read by young people who were probably around 15 years old, those original owners would now be 110 years old. Their books have long since been freed into the secondhand marketplace.

I believe that, unlike the earlier Stratemeyer Syndicate series, the early Nancy Drew books have not all yet been freed into the secondhand marketplace. The first printing of Old Clock is 78 years old. Some of the original owners are still around and have their childhood books. Many people hold onto their childhood possessions for sentimental reasons. Thus, it is likely that more first printing Old Clock books with intact dust jackets will surface in the coming years.

Other first printing Nancy Drew books are in the hands of people who know what they have but are not Nancy Drew collectors. This is where I feel that many of the books are. Have you ever kept something that you found by luck and means very little to you but you just happen to have and know is scarce and valuable? I have.

In 1998, I found the Tom Swift game in an antique shop in Memphis for around $30.00. I have very little interest in the Tom Swift series, but I cannot get myself to part with the Tom Swift game. I know that it is supposed to be very, very hard to find and the hardest to find of all of the Stratemeyer Syndicate games. So, I continue to keep it. I think it is neat to have something so hard to find that I found in a stroke of luck. By keeping it, I am unintentionally keeping it away from a Tom Swift collector.

I have finally parted with a book that I kept from since I first began collecting. Back in the early 1990s when I would go to garage sales in search of books, I found a first printing of an Edgar Rice Burroughs book in dust jacket. I kept it until recently for the same reason that I continue to keep the Tom Swift game.

Since I am guilty of keeping things that I do not collect and that I would normally never, ever purchase, there are surely people who collect old and rare books, like first printings of Hemingway, etc., who have a first printing of Old Clock in dust jacket and do not want to part with it.

In fact, someone on the eBay Booksellers message board once commented that she has a first printing of Old Clock. She did not state whether the book has a dust jacket, but she mentioned that it is neat to have the first printing of the first Nancy Drew book. She is not a series book collector; rather, she is someone who collects and sells other types of books for children, such as Dr. Seuss. She is an example of a person who owns a first printing Nancy Drew book but is not a Nancy Drew collector.

Perhaps book collectors who have a first printing Old Clock in dust jacket will decide to sell them so that those of us who collect Nancy Drew books will have the chance to purchase them.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Hoarding of the Applewood Editions

An article by Kent Winslow in the first issue of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review from the summer of 1980 mentions the rise of comic book prices as well as the hoarding of comic books and how the same could happen to series books:
Allowing prices to rise too high, I firmly believe, will cause the books to disappear entirely from the ordinary market, the same way old comic books have already, as speculators seize whole lots and pack them away in warehouses to await eventual monster profits . . .

The now well-known Comic Book Price Guide ended up having a PRESCRIPTIVE rather than DESCRIPTIVE effect when, as part of this process, people started consulting it for advice on how much to charge instead of seeing its figures as averages of prices real people were setting . . .

However, book dealers are beginning to realize that . . . series books can become a strongly profitable source, too . . . most series books were printed in hard-cover editions that stand the ravages of time and present a sturdy appearance long after the average comic would have been destroyed. For this reason, the old books are more likely to have survived . . . Nevertheless, they can be made a scarce commodity (scarcer than they are, that is), artificially. The local book dealer I mentioned earlier—who claims to have one of the largest stocks of books in the southwestern United States—is at this time in the process of hoarding salable items for just this reason. In reply to a query of mine about whether he had any Tom Quest books or anything else by Fran Striker, not long ago, he actually laughed out loud and pointed at a stack of cardboard boxes nearby that reached all the way up to the ceiling. "See those apple boxes over there?" he asked . . . "Well, down in the warehouse we have 700 boxes just like that, and that's where we keep all the Fran Striker books we get in—Lone Ranger . . . all that stuff. If somebody brings them in for trade, they go right into the warehouse."
The situation as described above is what I believe has happened with the Applewood edition Nancy Drew books. The books have been made artificially scarce and now command high prices. The books were still selling for low prices in the first few months after Applewood's contract expired. After it became common knowledge that there would be no more books printed by Applewood, sellers began stating in their auctions that the books were out of print and sure to become scarce (actually, they probably said that the books were to become RARE) and hard to find.

At this point, we began to see the prices spike from $10.00-$25.00 up to $30.00-$50.00. During this time, all of the books were still readily available. As the months passed, the number of books available gradually dwindled in number from online sites such as Amazon.com. By this point, the resellers were stating that the books were RARE and valuable. The prices climbed slowly upward. I have no doubt that the people selling the books were buying up the available copies and placing them on eBay.

In the summer of 2008, the only Applewood editions that are still available for reasonable prices are the first five or six titles, #20, and #21. For some reason, #20 and #21 are already commanding high prices on eBay, even though they can still be purchased for under $20.00 from online sites. This scenario is what happened with the rest of the titles around a year ago. Those titles were still available when the prices spiked on eBay. As people are now paying high prices for #20 and #21, we can expect the stock to gradually disappear from Amazon.com and others, thus causing the prices to rise even more sharply. The reason why the stock is dwindling is because the resellers are buying up the books.

It is because the resellers have bought up all available copies of #7-19 that were priced at under around $50.00-$75.00 that the books are now only listed for very high prices on the fixed-price sites. Since the sellers know that they can get around $100.00 or so per book, it is worth it for them to pay as much as $75.00 per book and then sell the book. By the way, people can enter want criteria on the different fixed-price sites, so when the Applewood editions come up for sale at reasonable prices, the books are probably sold within an hour or so of when the book is listed. This is why the average buyer will never see any books available other than the expensive ones.

The Applewood situation has been caused by book hoarding. It doesn't have to be just one person doing it; an entire group of people can collectively be responsible. I believe that the books will retain their artificial value for a number of years, but ultimately, the value will fall again to normal levels. Many parents bought the books for their children, and after the children grow up and move away from home, many of the books will be sold. This is when more examples will surface, and the books will fall again in value.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Early Nancy Drew Dust Jackets

The first printing of The Secret of the Old Clock in dust jacket is the one Nancy Drew book that all collectors desire to have. As all of us continue to watch this auction, we wish that we could find one for a lower price. The auction is currently at $8,000.00 and is currently the second most-watched book in the books category.

If one can't have the first printing of The Secret of the Old Clock in dust jacket, what would be the next best thing? Why, the second printing in dust jacket, of course! I am fortunate to have the second printing of Old Clock in dust jacket. Actually, it is the second printing dust jacket that is mated with a third printing book that is water-damaged. Since the dust jacket has no evidence of moisture exposure, I suspect that the mismatch was done rather recently, possibly by the collector who sold it to me.


The dust jacket is the important part, so I am not that concerned with the fact that the book is the third printing or that the book is water-damaged. Someday I'm going to have to find a second printing book to mate with the jacket. Since I do own a first printing book, lacking a dust jacket, it is not a pressing issue to upgrade this one from a third printing book to a second printing book.

I also have the second printing dust jacket of The Bungalow Mystery.


This dust jacket has a lot of tape on the spine, and as I recall, when I purchased it, I was not able to place the jacket in a mylar cover. Since the taping was done very badly with the dust jacket bunched up and overlapping, I could not flatten it to place in a mylar cover. Therefore, I had to carefully snip and tear the tape, bit by bit, so that I could pull it apart. I cannot remember how long it took, but it was a painstaking and scary process to do on a Nancy Drew dust jacket that lists only four titles.

I am not willing to pay more than around $500.00 for a book, regardless of how scarce it is. I was able to purchase both of these books for a little more than $300.00 each. They have a lot of wear, but I feel like I got them for a good price. For these early printing dust jackets, it is more important for me to get one at a reasonable price than to have one that is close to perfect. There is something very special about having a dust jacket that lists only three or four titles on the front flap.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Food, Fun, and Camping

What better way to spend a holiday than to enjoy a cookout? Here is an excerpt from pages 78-80 of The Secret of Camp Pioneer, from the Girl Scouts Mystery Series by Virginia Fairfax:
When all of the girls had arrived at this spot, Captain Mac gave the signal for silence.

"We're going to have a meal that you can prepare very quickly," she began. "The chief dish is galloping guinea pigs. That's right, girls, laugh! That's a funny name for a dish, but it tastes as good as it sounds. The Cardinals are to be the wood-gatherers, the Whippoorwills the fire-builders; the Owls are to make the galloping guinea pigs, while the Bluebirds are to get long, green, sweet-gum sticks for the guinea pigs to ride on. Let's see how quickly and well we can prepare our first meal."

With much chattering and laughter, the girls set to work at their different tasks. As there were several piles of dry branches at the foot of the hill, the girls soon had their wood gathered and the fire built. While they were waiting for the fire to make a bed of hot coals suitable for cooking, several of them roamed about, exploring the knoll.

In the meantime, the Owls were being initiated into the mysteries of the galloping guinea pigs. Bubbling over with curiosity, they circled around the food, peering at the boxes of bacon, the yellow triangles of cheese, and the lettuce and rolls, which Lu had brought out. All-interest, they watched Captain Mac deftly demonstrate the method of making this dish. Having cut a piece of cheese into cubes, she took a cube, wrapped a piece of bacon around it and fastened it securely with a small sliver of green wood. "This wood is sweet gum," she explained, "because it will not spoil the flavor of the food as pine and some other kinds of wood will. As soon as the Bluebirds bring the long sticks, I'll push the sharpened end of a stick into this cheese and bacon—or pig—and then it will be ready to cook. When the bacon is done, open up a roll, slip in a piece of lettuce and the pig—and you know what to do next."

"I'll say we do!" exclaimed Hilda. "Let's hurry and do it."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Amazon.com Judy Bolton Editorial Reviews

I guess I'm an Amazon.com editor, and I didn't even know it. I was browsing the Judy Bolton Applewood listings on Amazon for the softcover editions that are soon to be released. Upon reading the product description of one of them, I said to myself, "That sounds like something I wrote." I looked at another and felt the same way.

I couldn't be certain without visiting my site, so I went to my website to check my summaries. The summaries of #30 through #38 that are on my site were taken from the original Grosset and Dunlap books, so I did not write those. This fact is stated on my site as one should never pass off another person's words as one's own. I did write all of the summaries for #1-29, and at least some of those summaries are in the listings on Amazon.com.

Upon checking, they used parts of my summary for #2 and most of #4. They used part of #3 but mangled it. They used part of #21. It looks like they used the entire summary for each of #10, 14, 26, and 27. Some of the books on Amazon do not have a summary at all. They'll probably put them up eventually, and I bet I can guess where they're going to get them!

It is kind of weird.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

eBay Pulse and More Prices

The first printing Old Clock with dust jacket is currently the most-watched book in the Children's Book category and the sixth most-watched book in the entire Books category on eBay according to the eBay Pulse. It will probably soon be the most-watched book in the Books category.

I decided to view some of the other books that are listed in the eBay Pulse for the Books category.

Ronald Reagan Signed 1st Easton Press Item #170232293427

The above listing has given me my laugh for the day. The listing ends with the following comment:

"Note that this is so rare, it has not been available on eBay for several months. Don't miss this opportunity now!"

It is so rare that it has not been available in several months?! Goodness, imagine having to wait that long! That really is RARE! It may even qualify for SUPER-DUPER RARE.

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Now, back to series books:

Nancy Drew The Clue of the Tapping Heels 1st Edition DJ Item #320269043283

This book was purchased at $625.00, which is too high, especially considering the condition of the dust jacket.

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Nancy Drew Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk 1st EDITION Item #320269208664

At $750.00, this one is even worse. Yes, the jacket is pretty nice, but the price is extreme.

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BroKen LocKeT NaNcy Drew TRUE First 1st Dreamy Item #140244180231

This book closed at $1,725.00, which is an extreme price for this first printing with dust jacket. I feel that the only first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets that under any circumstance are worth more than $1,000.00 are the first nine titles. In my experience, it is considerably easier to find #10 and up than it is to find the first nine titles in first printing dust jackets.

In the past, I have sold extra copies of most all of #10 and up in first printing dust jackets. I know I've had an extra of each of #10 through 15 in first printing jackets, and I'm not sure offhand about #16. I have had extras of #17 and 18 for certain. I have had two extras of the somewhat elusive #22. I have had multiple extras of #19, 20, 21, and 23. I have extras of #24-38 and multiple extras of most of the tweeds, #30-38. Once again, I'm discussing first printing books with first printing dust jackets. #10 and up are all findable. It is the first nine that are SUPER-DUPER difficult (I rather like the sound of that).

As to the first nine titles, certain first printing dust jackets are easier to find than the others. #6 is the easiest since the first five printings all had the identical dust jacket. #8 is next since the first three printings had the identical dust jacket. #9 is in third place since the first two printings had the identical dust jacket. In all three cases, a person could buy one of the other early printings with a dust jacket that matches the points for the first printing and mate it to a first printing book. This is how I managed to get all three of these first printing books in first printing dust jackets, and it cost me a lot less than it otherwise would have.

#7 is probably the next most scarce dust jacket followed by #5. I feel like #2, 3 and 4 are about the same in scarcity. #1 is the most scarce.

The scarcity of the first nine first printing books is a bit different than that of the jackets. In some ways, #9 is the most difficult first printing book to acquire simply because it quite difficult to get inexperienced sellers to correctly answer the questions needed to determine whether a book is the first printing. It is because the first printing book is identical to the fourth printing book except for the "This Isn't All!" page in which "This Isn't All!" is within a box for the first printing and not within a box for the fourth printing. Sellers have trouble understanding that "within a box" means that the print is within a rectangle that is drawn around it. Some of them think that the ones that have the text in a box-like shape on the page without anything drawn around it are actually "within a box."

I don't feel that the first printing books for #2-5 and 8 are all that elusive. They are difficult to acquire, but since I have had extras of most of them, they aren't that bad. I do find that #6 is a bit harder and probably #7 as well. I have some doubt as to how scarce #7 actually is. I have seen it up for sale a bit too often. #1 is about as hard to get as #9, except that it is a lot easier to ask inexperienced sellers the necessary questions.

If after reading this you feel that you need a Farah's Guide, David Farah sells them on eBay.