Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #9

Advanced collectors of Nancy Drew books know that the spines of the earlier, mostly original text picture cover books look different from the later, mostly revised text picture cover books. If newer collectors can become familiar with this distinction, then they can avoid some unnecessary questions.

Regarding an eBay listing, a buyer asked the seller when the books were published. The seller looked through a few of the books, stating that they are from the 1970s. Here is one of the pictures from the auction:

Pay particular attention to the titles on the spines. Notice that most of them appear to be in all capital letters. These books are indeed from the 1970s.

I pulled books off of my shelf to match with the titles seen in the above photo. The books I pulled out are all first printing or very early printing picture cover books from the early 1960s:


All of these books have the 25 chapter text except for #35, which was never published in 25 chapters. Notice that all of these books have the titles in mixed-case letters.

In general, early picture cover books have the titles in mixed-case letters and later picture cover books with the revised texts have the titles in all capital letters. By knowing this fact, buyers can tell at a glance whether most of the books in a listing are from the 1960s or from the 1970s and early 1980s.

10 comments:

Robert said...

I had no idea there were so many ways to determine a pretty accurate publication date range. Now I'll have to give the capitalization on my book spines a look!

rebecca said...

I had never noticed this before and now it seems obvious. Thanks for pointing it out!

Paula said...

Hi, Jennifer,

I have a question on this topic. There is an ebay item (170296669235) that shows five books, all but one of which has mixed-cased letters. So you would think these four were printed in the 60's - right? But if you look at the picture of the covers, three of them have a yellow banner across the front top. I would think this indicates a later printing date. But the aren't flashlight editions - they are matte. Do you know what type of books these are? Thanks!

Jennifer said...

The three with the yellow band have to be from the 1970s or early 1980s. None of the books from the 1960s have the yellow band. Since Haunted Showboat has a faded yellow spine, it might be from the 1960s. This is because the earlier picture cover editions are more prone to fading than the later ones. Crooked Banister has to be from 1971 or later since that is the copyright.

Obviously, there are exceptions to my generalization about the upper- and lower-case letters. For Clue in the Diary, Haunted Showboat, and Dancing Puppet, the cover art was never updated, so that would be why the spine was also never updated.

So my statement about the upper- and lower-case letters applies only to books that had revisions to the cover art. I should revisit this topic again and clarify. Visit my cover art page for the picture cover editions to see which picture covers had cover art from the 1960s and from the 1970s. Those are the books that should have the variance in the lettering on the spines.

The exceptions and odd variances are what make collecting Nancy Drew books so difficult for beginning collectors. It is a lot to process.

Paula said...

Yes, I see what you are saying. I *love* your art pages and have been using them regularly. I am collecting these books as much for the artwork as the stories, so it's so nice to have this visual reference for all the versions, and with the text notations too! I was a little confused because I didn't see any examples of the yellow banner book cover in matte on your art pages, so I thought these were perhaps some special edition, like book club, etc. It does get confusing with the different types of revisions occurring at different times, etc. but that's what makes it interesting too!

I see that Farah's Guide, which would help me with the details, is supposed to be (re-?)printed in Feb 09. Will this be a revised guide? The last price I saw for this book was $95 which is quite steep for me. Do you recommend any other guides or other alternatives for researching details?

Thanks again!

Jennifer said...

The odd variations do make collecting a lot of fun! I'm not even sure how many of the picture cover editions had the yellow banner. I know that it was not all of them. I have never tried to get all of those, since they do not particularly interest me. I do know a few people have kept track of which ones exist, and that information can probably be found in the archives of the Nancy Drew Sleuths group.

I wasn't even aware that Farah's Guide was out of print! I assume that Farah ran out of copies of it. I don't know whether he is just printing more of them or whether there are any changes. Since I know he was selling copies very recently, he is probably just printing more of them. I guess we'll know soon.

The price is a bit steep. It is possible to do enough research on the internet so that you can avoid needing Farah's Guide. The main reason why the guide is helpful is that it gives the points for all of the first printings and all of the first printings of each format or cover art change for the people who want to get the first printing of each format.

I might try to add some of the yellow banner books to my cover art gallery. I have gradually revised my cover art galleries and other informative pages as I've received questions from collectors. It is helpful to get questions since it helps me to clarify the information that I have provided.

Paula said...

Thank you so much for the info on Farah's Guide. I am not so much interested in having the first editions (at least at this point), so I think you are right that for my purposes I can find the information I need on the internet - using your website as the first source of course. :)

I'm not really buying yet. Taking inventory of what I have and monitoring ebay to get a feel for what's out there and what it's going for. I have a mixture of tweeds and picture covers from my childhood, original and revised texts, and as I said, I am interested in the art, so I'm trying to decide exactly what it is I want to collect. So many options! It's great!

Paula said...

Hi, Jennifer,

I have a question on the topic of gleaning information from the spines of ND books. There is an auction on ebay right now Item # 330307377666 that shows 7 tweed books with white spine dust jackets. Two of these look unusual to me in that they have light blue lettering, as well as the typical light blue silhouette, on the spine. Does this indicate anything about the books? I thought the lettering was always black. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

The Whispering Statue and The Clue in the Jewel Box are the only two Nancy Drew books that have blue print on the spines instead of the usual black. I believe all printings in dust jacket for those two books have the blue print. None of the other books have the blue print, so it doesn't mean anything as far as determining anything about the books. It is just one of Grosset and Dunlap's random inconsistencies which cannot be explained.

Paula said...

Thanks for the explanation - I never noticed the blue lettering before, I suppose because the books are usual shown by themselves. I'm going to try to pull up some more pictures of those titles to prove it to myself. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!