Awhile back, I happened across three Nancy Drew books with blank endpapers very shortly after they had been listed. The books were in bad shape, but the seller had placed very low Buy It Now prices on each listing. I had nothing to lose, so I purchased all three books.
It's kind of fun to purchase listings like these on speculation, not knowing what I will receive. I knew that The Secret at Shadow Ranch would be the first printing, since all blank endpapers printings of Shadow Ranch match the points for the first printing. I also did not care, since Shadow Ranch is possibly the easiest to find of all seven blank endpapers firsts. Meaning, I did not see it as a big deal.
Of course, many of you are probably thinking, "Not a big deal!? Is she crazy?" It's just that I have had quite a few pass through my hands, so I am not that likely to get excited. For me, it is not a big deal. To someone who has just starting collecting, it would have been a very big deal. Believe me; I know that.
Going back to my purchase, I knew that a small possibility existed for the other two books, The Secret of the Old Clock and The Mystery at Lilac Inn, to be the first printings. It was unlikely, since the books probably came from the same original owner who likely purchased them at around the same time. If Shadow Ranch was the first printing from 1931, then the other two books were likely to date from 1931, which would make them later printings.
I received my package in the mail, which consisted of all three books in a stack wrapped in brown paper with no other protection. I have observed that the kind of sellers who place low Buy It Now prices on their lots often are not savvy enough to know how books should be packaged. This does not make them bad sellers; they simply are not aware of how hard the journey will be on the books and how the corners will get bumped.
Fortunately, the books did not appear to be in any worse of condition than they were prior to the journey.
That is, if the books were damaged by being mailed wrapped in brown paper, I'd never be able to tell due to the condition of the books.
After opening the package, I gave Shadow Ranch a cursory look, and moved to the other two books to see how early of printings they were. I checked the ads in the back of Old Clock, discovering the Hardy Boys ad as the very first ad. This meant that Old Clock was the first printing, 1930A-1. The chances of Lilac Inn being the elusive first printing were now higher, although still improbable considering the scarcity of the first printing Lilac Inn book.
I checked Lilac Inn. I saw Outdoor Girls to #20 Canoe Trip and Blythe Girls to #10 Margy's Mysterious Visitor. I actually do not have the first printing points memorized as to which ad comes first. I promptly jumped up and went after my Farah's Guide. Sure enough, the ads were in the right order: Hardy Boys #1-9, Outdoor Girls #1-20, and Blythe Girls #1-10. How amazing is that?
Now I have two first printing books for The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Both need to be upgraded, however, but I am making progress.
Remember that I own both a first printing Lilac Inn dust jacket and a second printing Lilac Inn dust jacket. Both jackets are supposed to be mated with the first printing book. Both of my jackets are mated with later printing books. I have not swapped out the books, but I do now have the option to do so for both of them. I am going to wait a bit longer to see if I can upgrade at least one of my first printing Lilac Inn books.