Friday, January 13, 2012

Nancy's Mysterious Letter Library Binding

The most difficult to find Nancy Drew library binding is what I call the "1940s Style Library Binding." I cannot express how much I covet these books and how much I would like to find more of them.

Most likely, only a handful of them still exist, and the scarcity is on the same level as the very early first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets. However, these books are not worth much since few people are interested in them. This is all the better for me.

I was extremely excited when I spotted one on eBay, and it was a different title from any that I already had. I have not seen one for sale in several years. It was agonizing to have to wait a week for the auction to end and then to wait another week for the book to arrive.

During that week, I speculated on what the spine symbol would look like. Every book from this style of binding has a cute spine symbol that represents an important part of the mystery. This kind of little detail is why I consider library editions to be creative works of art.

Finally, my book arrived.


At first glance, I thought that the spine symbol was Nancy Drew, although I immediately knew better. These books do not feature Nancy on the spine. The spine symbol looks very much like one of the men on the original Tandy dust jacket for Nancy's Mysterious Letter.


The text block of the book is probably from late 1941 based on the thickness of the book. The book has a glossy frontispiece illustration and good quality paper. I very seldom find thick books that have been rebound as library editions. Even though a thick book was used, it could have been rebound into a library binding many years after it was printed. While a thick library edition indicates an old book, the binding does not have to be anywhere near that old.

Since I have found so very few of these books, I have had to guess about how old I think they are. Some libraries are too obsessed about destroying all dates and notations inside their discarded books, and those books are impossible to date. Some libraries leave only the later dates, and just because a book was checked out from a library in the 1970s does not mean that the book had not already been in that library 20 years previously. Other libraries are kind enough to leave certain notations, such as the date of purchase. I am always thrilled when that date is present, since it proves the age of the binding.

I have estimated that these books were likely printed during the very late 1940s or very early 1950s, based on the style of binding and the age of the original books which were rebound in the library binding.

With this new acquisition, I finally have one date. The inside front cover has a stamp noting that the book was bound by Geo. A. Flohr Co. Library Binders in Cincinnati, Ohio. The book was rebound on July 1, 1950, which fits into my estimated time period.

I hope that I can eventually find a few more of these books. I know that #3, 5, 6, 8, 11, and 15 exist. Library editions were not created as sets. Rather, random books that were sent to the bindery were rebound. Just because #15 exists does not mean that all of #1-15 exist.

The hunt for books that may not necessarily exist and the thrill when one is finally discovered is what makes collecting fun.

1 comment:

sequesterednooks said...

These are great library bindings; thank you for sharing them!

It's nice to still have something to be on the hunt for even after you have a copy of each text.