The Dana Girls series made its debut on January 17, 1934 with the publication of the first three titles, By the Light of the Study Lamp, The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage, and In the Shadow of the Tower.
During the first four years of the series run, 1934 through 1937, the books were printed with lavender and green dust jackets. The dust jackets are difficult to acquire, and as such, most collectors have not seen enough of them to have any idea what the exact first printing points are for each title. A Dana Girls guide was written by one collector more than 10 years ago, but that collector lost interest before the guide was published. As a result, we are completely on our own when attempting to figure out which books and jackets are first printings.
Generally, a dust jacket that has a list of titles ending with the title of the book itself is a likely first printing. However, during the 1930s, some first printing dust jackets had lists ending with the previous title in the series. We know this to be true for Nancy Drew, so it could also possibly be true for the Dana Girls.
My goal when purchasing the lavender and green dust jackets more than 10 years ago was to try to get jackets that were not faded but to also try to get early or first printings. At the time that I was building my set, the lavender and green dust jackets were routinely selling for $250 to $500 each. I settled for slightly flawed jackets that were not first printings for the majority of them. The Dana Girls series was not important enough for me to want to spend hundreds of dollars for a dust jacket, especially since I had no idea which jackets were the first printing jackets.
I always assumed that the first printing jackets for the first three books list the first three titles in the series ending with In the Shadow of the Tower. At that time, I thought that a Dana Girls dust jacket for any of #1-3 listing just the first three titles on the front flap was guaranteed to be the first printing dust jacket. I managed to acquire one of them. I then focused on other series and forgot about upgrading my Dana Girls books and seeking first printings.
Earlier this year I was asked about the first printing dust jackets for the first three titles. I was asked whether all three dust jackets exist with three titles listed on the front flap and with the ads on the reverse side of the jacket. Honestly, I did not know, since I had never given it any thought. This person had bought one of the first three titles with a jacket listing to In the Shadow of the Tower, but the jacket did not have the reverse ads.
I checked my books and found my copy of The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage
which has a jacket that lists to the third title and has the reverse ads. I did not
have the other two, but since I knew that all three books were published
simultaneously, I concluded that all three must have been issued with
dust jackets that list the first three titles and have the
reverse ads. It would not be logical for one jacket to have the reverse
ads and the other two not to have the ads if all three books were
originally published at the same time.
Below is an example of a recent eBay auction for a copy of In the Shadow of the Tower with a jacket listing three titles.
The jacket does not
have the reverse ads. If it did, then the front flap would have green
text along the right edge which states "LOOK ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS
JACKET." The back flap would have green text along the right edge
which states "PRESERVE THIS WRAPPER FOR FUTURE REFERENCE." Clearly, the
above jacket does not have the reverse ads and is therefore not the first printing dust jacket.
The end result of all of this is that it made me curious enough to see if I could find the other two jackets with the reverse ads. Finally, they showed up on eBay. Although the condition was not good at all, I purchased them for the sake of having proof that they exist.
Here are photographs of all three jackets with the reverse ads. Note that all three jackets have the green text on both flaps, list three titles on the front flap, and have the ads on the reverse side. Remember that you can click on a photo to see a larger version.
Now I have all three jackets with the reverse ads. My next thought was whether I could safely conclude that only one printing exists with the reverse ads. To put it another way, are these jackets guaranteed to be the first printing jackets for the first three titles?
I checked Farah's Guide to see where the cutoff is for dust jackets that have the reverse ads. No Nancy Drew books printed past 1933 have the reverse ads. The last Nancy Drew to be printed with a reverse ads jacket was The Password to Larkspur Lane, which went through two 1933 printings with the ads and one 1933 printing without the ads.
Interesting... The first three Dana Girls books are copyright 1934, which makes it rather strange that the jackets even have the reverse ads. Sometimes series other than Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys went through format changes at slightly different times, which makes it not so strange. My next task was to look up the actual date for which the copyright was issued for the first three Dana Girls books. This information is available online for all of the books by searching The Catalog of Copyright Entries.
I discovered that the first three Dana Girls books were published on January 17, 1934, which places them at the very beginning of 1934. This makes it likely that the books and jackets were printed at the very end of 1933, making the existence of the reverse ads not to be so strange. While I cannot be certain, I feel that I can conclude that no more than one printing of each jacket exists with the reverse ads.
Even if two printings exist with the reverse ads, both printings would have to list Nancy Drew to The Password to Larkspur Lane. The next Nancy Drew title, The Clue of the Broken Locket, was not published until August 8, 1934. It is highly unlikely that another Dana Girls reverse ads jacket would have been printed that late in 1934. In fact, notice that the photo I provided of a jacket that does not have the reverse ads lists Nancy Drew to The Clue of the Broken Locket. Therefore, I feel that all reverse ads Dana Girls jackets are likely identical and list Nancy Drew to The Password to Larkspur Lane.
The next question is whether the books are the first printing books. This could go either way. Often, department stores would take jackets off of books and store them until the books were purchased. This means that jackets did not always get placed back on the correct books. Since we have no Dana Girls guide, it's anybody's guess what the first printing book points are.
Here are the post-text ads for the books that came with my first printing dust jackets.
Post-text ads for By the Light of the Study Lamp: "This Isn't All!" with a line drawn around it in the shape of a
box followed by Nancy Drew to Mysterious Letter and Judy Bolton to Seven
Post-text ads for The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage: none
Post-text ads for In the Shadow of the Tower: "This Isn't All!" with a line drawn around it in the shape of a box with no other post-text ads
I have no idea whether I have the first printing books, but I do have the first printing dust jackets.