I noticed a Dana Girls library binding in an eBay listing recently. It was in with some Nancy Drew books. I hesitated in part because library editions always come in lots with regular edition books that are in awful shape, so I end up with books that are difficult to sell. It is much harder to sell extra books than it once was. Finally, I decided to buy the lot since the price was low. In short, I couldn't resist another library binding.
Once I received the books, I was very pleased with the library binding. The book is thick, so it was rebound from one of the purple Dana Girls books with good quality paper and a glossy frontispiece illustration. Both the original green endpapers and the glossy frontispiece illustration survived the rebinding process. Since the book is thick, this means that the library binding is probably pretty old, since the thick books would likely have been rebound at least 50 to 60 years ago.
Next, I noticed that the book is from a Meridian, Mississippi library. This is interesting to me since my paternal grandparents lived in Meridian.
I then found some evidence as to how old this binding is. Many libraries write information sideways in the hinge area, usually on the title page.
This one mentions 1942, and 1942 is not the copyright of The Mystery of the Locked Room. I already have my answer, but I look around for more information. Usually, the date in the hinge area is the most that I can hope to find. This was not the case with this book.
One date is still visible on the rear free endpaper, and it looks like either 1942 or 1943.
The last piece of information that I found inside this book is usually never present, and it is the most exciting. Library editions very seldom have the exact date that the book was rebound, but this one does.
The date is partially hidden underneath the library pocket. The book was rebound on December 31, 1941 by Stappenbeck & Craig of Bloomington, Indiana.
The importance of library editions cannot be overstated. This book was rebound right after the United States entered World War II. Many families would have been unable to purchase new books for their children, but they could go to the public library. By rebinding books, libraries were able to offer good series books in durable bindings that would last for many years.