Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Kit Hunter Show Jumper Series

I have decided to read the Kit Hunter series—finally. I read the first book, Kit Hunter, Show Jumper, in The Wild One, around four years ago in order to determine whether I should build a set. I liked it a lot and did eventually purchase all twelve books. Once I completed my set of twelve books, I was busy reading other books and had never gotten around to reading the rest of the Kit Hunter books. I recently re-read the first book and just finished the second book. I have now started to read the third book.

The Kit Hunter Show Jumper series is a British series that was originally published in hardcover with dust jacket by World Distributors from 1959 through 1961. World Distributors also published the Sally Baxter Girl Reporter, Shirley Flight Air Hostess, and Sara Gay Model Girl series. I have read all of the Sally Baxter and Sara Gay books and enjoyed all of them greatly. I have read most of the Shirley Flight books and did not enjoy them quite as much, which is why I lost interest before reading the complete set. I must get back to Shirley Flight and finish reading the remaining titles.

Kit Hunter is an orphan whose mother recently passed away. I do not recall any mention of Kit's age, but I assume that she is an older teenager, probably around 16 to 18 years of age. As Kit grieves for her mother, she recalls the wonderful times she spent at Colonel Hamden's home, Moor Grange, when she was a young child. Kit writes to Colonel Hamden, who invites Kit to come stay with him.

Colonel Hamden's life was once saved by Kit's father, who was Colonel Hamden's commanding officer. Colonel Hamden feels indebted to Kit's father, which is why he is protective of Kit and invites her to come live with him. Kit refers to the Colonel as her adopted uncle.

In the first book, Kit arrives at Moor Grange to find it greatly changed. Moor Grange has fallen on hard times, and Colonel Hamden may have to sell out. Kit learns that Colonel Hamden had invested all of his money in South American horses and bred them with moorland ponies. The Colonel's scheme was nearly successful, but others sabotaged it. If Kit could find the one horse which was crossbred, she might be able to prove that the Colonel succeeded and turn his luck around.

The Colonel's secretary, Miss Ashford, despises Kit, who suspects that Miss Ashford wishes to marry Colonel Hamden. In time, Kit discovers that Miss Ashford has a particular plan in mind, and the first book centers around Kit's discovery of the scheme and her finding of Wild One, the one surviving crossbred horse.

In the second book, Kit travels to South America to try to find the person who sold Colonel Hamden his horses. It is a race against time, as another person wishes to prevent Kit from finding the dealer so that he can profit from the Colonel's ideas.

Both of the books that I have read so far have been very engaging. Sometimes I have trouble getting into books, and those are ones that I decide not to collect. These books are quite interesting. It is hard to say which series this one is the most like. The best I can do is compare what I have read so far to Trixie Belden, since Trixie and the Bob-Whites are always around horses, and Kit Hunter's main interest is horses. Also, Moor Grange is a rural setting similar to the setting of the Trixie Belden books. My opinion may shift once I read additional titles.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #15

Remember that you have to be very specific and spell out exactly what you need when you ask a seller a question. You have to tell the seller exactly where to look in words that he or she can understand. Here is an example:

Question: Hi. Could you please tell me the last nancy drew title on the inside jacket and on the internal list in the book itself? Also, if you could please describe the other authors listed on the jacket and the last titles? Thanks!

The seller did not quite understand the question, so the buyer did not get all of the desired information. Rather, the buyer should ask what the last title is in the list on the front flap of the dust jacket. Second, the buyer should ask what series is listed on the back flap of the dust jacket and for the last title listed. Third, the buyer should ask what series is listed on the back panel of the dust jacket and for the last title listed. The seller will most likely understand what the buyer means by front flap, back flap, and back panel.

Additionally, the buyer should tell the seller where to look inside the book. By just telling the seller to look "on the internal list in the book itself," the seller might find a list on the copyright page or in the post-text ads. Most likely, the seller will land on the copyright page, and the copyright page list, if present, is never accurate. It is better to ask the seller whether there are any post-text ad pages and then ask for the last title listed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Connie Blair's Colorful Clues Part II

I almost hate to admit it, but I find that I like The Mystery of the Ruby Queens the best of all of the books in the series. This distresses me a bit because it is the only Connie Blair book that Cavanna did not write. This book is set in an old house, and Connie must try to find the missing Ruby Queens, which are six priceless figurines. I always love mysteries that are set in old houses and that require the sleuth to search for something. The book is quite well-written.

My first and foremost thought is who wrote it? All we know is that Cavanna contracted to have someone else write it. Cavanna never revealed who that person was. We do know that Cavanna was reluctant to have everyone know that she did not write it. For a time during the 1980s, she had told at least one collector the truth but begged for silence. Later, Cavanna changed her mind and told a group of fans. After that gathering, it was common knowledge that Cavanna did not write the last Connie Blair book. From page 29 of Issue 31 of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review, Fred Woodworth tells the story:
In a 1984 issue of this magazine I published Don Holbrook's very favorable review of the Connie Blair series. After the piece was printed, I managed to locate the old author of the series and sent her a copy of the review. This resulted in some cordial correspondence, during the course of which she revealed—in strict confidence—that she had not written Ruby Queens herself, but had contracted with someone else to do so.

I'd have liked to bring this interesting tidbit to the attention of Review readers, but felt bound by my word that I would treat this fact as confidential. Imagine my surprise when, some months later, after I'd put that author in contact with some other fans of her books, she attended a convention of theirs as a featured speaker—and in her talk calmly announced the news that she had not written this story! The upshot was that other publications which had done nothing to review her work or even find out if she was still living, got to report this as if they'd run down the news themselves.
Now, back to my question of who wrote the last Connie Blair book? I kept this thought in mind as I read the book. I was struck by how good the book is. It was certainly not written by an amateur and must have been written by an established writer. It was written by someone who had read the early Connie Blair books and knew about the series. Was this person just an acquaintance of Cavanna, or was this person someone whose name we would recognize?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Connie Blair's Colorful Clues Part I

I recently revisited the Connie Blair books. In the past, I recall people stating that the first book, The Clue in Blue, is slow-paced. It does start out slowly, a little slower than I would prefer. The first two chapters read more like the usual young adult fare—probably because the author was Betty Cavanna. During the third chapter, Connie gets knocked out, so the action begins.

In the Connie Blair series, Connie is knocked unconscious many times. If someone were knocked out this many times in real life, they would have to end up with brain damage. Some of Connie's concussions are quite bad, particularly the one in The Gray Menace in which the assailant drew blood.

Cavanna was an expert at imagery. From The Puzzle in Purple, page 83:
Somehow, though it was a lovely and dramatic thing the sight of the ill-fated cape made her shudder. She had a feeling that in using it to drape the skeleton someone had tossed a pebble into a dark pool. In ever-widening ripples the water it had disturbed might eventually reach some dim and frightening shore.
I noticed a mistake in The Secret of Black Cat Gulch. Connie and Georgia stay at the Casa Bonito. Casa is Spanish for house, and it is a feminine word. The name of the inn should be Casa Bonita.

People love it when something exciting happens, like a bad car wreck, or even a car wreck that is not bad, and cars slow down so that the drivers can gawk. I remember having to slow down to a crawl one time on the interstate highway because of a pickup stopped at the side of the road with a refrigerator standing behind it. Wow, how exciting, a refrigerator. I was disgusted because I wanted to get home. From pages 158-159 in The Peril in Pink, a similar and hilarious scene occurs:
.....the chase was not over. What was their next move to be?

The decision, as it happened, was taken out of her hands. Before the driver of Paradise had even shifted gears there was a great shout from behind them and the passengers all turned to discover that Comet had burst into flames.

To Connie and Mike it came as an almost inevitable climax to their wild ride over the mountains. Overheated, pushed beyond endurance, steam had been hissing from the radiator for miles. But the uproar the fire was bound to create, in an island where any kind of excitement is welcomed, was something they couldn't foretell.

This was as good as Carnival!

This was fun!

There was no question of proceeding and abandoning the afflicted bus. Such a spectacular performance deserved a cheering squad. As the factory doors were braced open and a bucket brigade began to form, the workers scrambled down from Paradise in a joyous throng. The driver pulled on his brakes, turned off the ignition, and hurried along with them, leaving his vehicle blocking all traffic on the narrow road.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #14

It is helpful to know when certain endpapers were in print in order to avoid asking unnecessary questions. Here is a tweed copy of Nancy Drew #38 with an intact dust jacket:

1961/Nancy Drew/Mystery of the Fire Dragon/VERY GOOD Item #150288278608
Question: Please describe the endpapers--Nancy watching a man dig or multiple scenes from other stories?

Answer: Thanks for your interest in the Nancy Drew book. The endpapers display multiple scenes from other stories.
The digger endpapers were used on tweed books from 1952 through 1958. The blue multi endpapers were used on tweed books from 1959 through 1961. Since The Mystery of the Fire Dragon was not published until 1961, it cannot have digger endpapers. The digger endpapers were no longer used in 1961. All tweed copies of Fire Dragon must have blue multi endpapers.

There was no point in the buyer asking what kind of endpapers a tweed Fire Dragon has since it cannot possibly have anything other than blue multi endpapers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Edith Lavell Original Illustration

I recently made a neat purchase on eBay. The auction lot contained two old illustrations in watercolor from the 1930s. Each illustration measures approximately 9 inches by 14 inches. One of the illustrations is the cover art of the Edith Lavell book, The Mystery of the Secret Band.

It is just the lower half of the cover art. The upper half is missing, and the illustration is damaged around the edges. The top part of Edith Lavell's name is just barely visible along the bottom. For comparison, here is the front panel of the dust jacket from the book:

In closely examining the illustration, there is no doubt that it is the actual illustration that was used to produce the dust jacket art for the book. There is even a slight imperfection in the illustration near the car's bumper that appears exactly the same in the dust jacket.

Another illustration was included in the lot:

I do not recognize the second illustration, so I do not know which book it is from. This seller had many lots of original illustrations from different A. L. Burt books, so it is likely from an A. L. Burt book. If anybody recognizes the above illustration, please let me know.

The crude way in which both illustrations were cut shows the utter disregard that the publishers had for the original illustrations. It is amazing that any of them have survived to this day, in any kind of condition.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Transaction Frustration on eBay

I have quite a few problems dealing with sellers on eBay who have poor communication skills or have no idea what they are doing. I bought a near complete set of Nancy Drew books this week. The auction page listed $25.00 shipping via UPS Ground. I did not know what it would actually cost to mail the books via UPS, but I did know that a complete set of Nancy Drew books can be mailed via media mail for less than $25.00. The shipping was within what would be considered normal for a set of Nancy Drew books, so I gave it no thought.

I paid, and after the seller shipped the books, he contacted me. He told me that he shipped the books via UPS and that the box weighed 31 pounds. He then told me that media mail costs $10.75 for the first 10 pounds and $2.00 for each additional pound and that he had to pay the difference himself.

His comments confused me. He mentioned media mail, which does not cost $10.75 for the first 10 pounds and $2.00 for each additional pound. Media mail is only $12.73 for a package that weighs 31 pounds. Also, UPS does not offer media mail, so why would he mention media mail?

I don't even know what the seller paid to ship the books. Why not come out and say it? He knows what the dollar amount is. I don't. If the shipping amount was $10.75 for the first 10 pounds and $2.00 for each additional pound, then he paid $52.75.

I went to the UPS site and downloaded their shipping rate tables. It appears that the seller used UPS 3 Day Select to mail the books, since 1o pounds to Zone 2 costs $10.75. This is assuming of course that I am in Zone 2. I do not if UPS does zones the way the USPS does. If the seller used UPS 3 Day Select, I noticed that the cost only went up less than a dollar for each additional pound. I can find nothing anywhere on the UPS rate tables to match up with the seller's comments.

What gets me is that the listing stated UPS Ground. Why wouldn't the seller have shipped UPS ground? From the UPS rate tables, the package could have been shipped via UPS Ground for under $25.00, assuming that I am in Zone 2. Additionally, did the seller go to one of those shipping places like Mail and More to ship the package? Those places always charge exorbitant rates. I only use those places when I have to mail something like an appliance which weighs too much to mail USPS.

Transactions like this one really get on my nerves. I gathered from the seller's message that he is not very happy about the postage cost. However, it was his choice to mail the package via a more expensive method than necessary. I want to tell the seller this, but I decided to ignore the message. No matter how I try to state it, I'm going to sound a bit snippy.

It is the seller's fault when the seller charges too little for shipping or when the seller accidentally ships the package at a higher rate. I sometimes undercharge for postage and get an unpleasant surprise when I weigh the package. It is my fault, and I do not mention it to the buyer.

One time earlier this year, I had a package to send media mail to someone in the military serving overseas. The clerk told me that I could not send the package via media mail because "they have no way to get it over there." I was quite taken aback and did not believe this was true. Really, I knew it was not true, but the clerk sounded ever so believable. I thought that perhaps the USPS had changed a regulation recently without my knowledge.

I had to pay around $15.00 priority mail for the package, and I had only charged the buyer around $4.00 for postage. When I got home and thought about it some more, I realized that the clerk was full of it and that I should have asked for a supervisor. The USPS ships the military-bound packages via whatever method the sender uses to the military. The military does not care whether the package was sent media mail. The military will airlift the package to its destination. I messed up by believing a clueless clerk, and I took the loss. It was not my buyer's fault.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

eBay Selling Tips #2 + One for Buyers

This is a tip for people who use the PayPal shipping and print their own shipping labels. Really, it is just common sense, but a small group of sellers do not seem to realize that labels should be affixed to the packages securely.

I remember one transaction in particular. The seller stated that she had had quite a few lost packages and recommended insurance as she was not responsible for lost packages. I knew immediately why she had so many lost packages when I received my package from her. She used PayPal shipping and affixed the label to the package with one small 1 1/2 inch long piece of 3/4 inch wide scotch tape along each of the four sides of the label. There was no adhesive on the back of the label, so the small pieces of tape were all that held the label to the package. I was amazed that the label was still attached!

This post can be easily turned into a buyer tip as well. Any seller who states in their listings that they have had quite a few lost packages should probably be avoided. There is a reason why those sellers have a bunch of lost packages. They are doing something wrong, and they have no idea that it is their fault. Remember from my last selling tip that I stated that I have mailed out thousands of packages, and none have gone missing. I'm sure I will have one eventually, but it is not the norm for packages to disappear.

I use plain paper for my shipping labels, as many people do. I use a glue stick to put glue on the package where I intend to place the label. I then place the label on the package and use packaging tape to securely fasten all four sides of the label so that it is extremely unlikely that the label will be torn from the package. I had an occasion this summer where I had to remove one of my labels after the glue had dried. It was not easy. Once the glue dries, those labels are stuck in place.

Another selling tip: do not use brown packaging paper on your packages unless totally necessary. Many sellers reuse old boxes; I once did and for a time, I used brown paper. When I did, I securely taped it on all seams. Even so, brown paper can easily be ripped off of the box, causing the box to go missing. I have received some packages in the mail in which the paper was badly ripped.

If you are reusing boxes, there is a way to avoid brown paper and still have a professional outer appearance. Turn the boxes inside out. Along one of the four corners of the box, a seam can be found and the box pulled apart at that location. Turn the box inside out, and tape it back together. I did this for quite a few years until I finally decided that saving boxes took up too much space and that turning them inside out was too much trouble.

These are the boxes that I purchase for my packages:

I use these boxes for one or two books.


These boxes are used for smaller lots of around five books.


These boxes are used for lots of around 10 to 12 books.


I use these boxes for large lots. Two of them are enough for a complete set of 56 Nancy Drew books. I avoid shipping packages that weigh more than 20-23 pounds because the packages are too heavy to carry and more likely to be damaged.


These boxes serve all of my needs when I sell books. The shipping costs from Uline nearly double the cost of the boxes, so the boxes always end up costing around $0.75 to $0.95 each depending on the box size.

Uline ships really fast. They have a number of locations around the country, and anybody who lives near one of those locations gets their orders very fast. My orders ship from Dallas, and I always get my orders the very next day, even when I order in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #13

The goal of this series of posts is to educate buyers on how to avoid unnecessary questions. Here is another listing in which a buyer asks an unnecessary question:

8 Early Nancy Drew Nos 1-18 DJs Blue Orange Keene G&D Item #350088683302
Question: Hi, Do volume #'s 1,5, or 7 have 3 glossy internals, as well as the glossy frontispiece?

Answer: Just the frontpiece. I don't see any internals on a thumb-through. Thanks for looking.
In the item description, the seller states that #1 lists to #16 Tapping Heels on the front flap; #5 lists to #19 Missing Map on the front flap; and #7 lists to #18 Moss-Covered Mansion on the front flap. This information is enough to indicate that it is highly unlikely that the books have the additional internal illustrations. Since only the first 13 titles were printed with the glossy internal illustrations, the volumes that have the glossy internal illustrations list only up to #13 Ivory Charm on the front flap. Any book that has a dust jacket that lists to #14 or higher on the front flap does not have the glossy internal illustrations unless the book and dust jacket are grossly mismatched.

In the unlikely event that a book with internals has been mismatched with a later dust jacket, there is no increase in value. If anything, the mismatch decreases the value. The vast majority of collectors who seek the books with internals and intact dust jackets want the books to have the matching dust jackets that list to #13 or lower.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #12

Oftentimes, sellers state that a book is the first printing/first edition according to Farah's Guide, but they do not give the points that make the book the first printing/first edition. Buyers should always be cautious when a seller states that a book is the first, even by Farah's Guide, but gives no additional information. It is also very important that sellers state which edition of Farah's Guide is referenced in a listing. Farah states in each edition of his guide that sellers should mention which edition of Farah's Guide is used to describe a book that is for sale.

This brings me to this listing:

NANCY DREW # 56 Thirteenth Pearl FIRST EDITION Item #350090402841

The only information given by the seller is, "This is a First Edition according to Farah's Guide." Aside from the fact that "first edition" does not mean "first printing," more information is needed. Which edition of Farah's Guide did the seller use? In older editions of Farah's Guide, the first printing of Thirteenth Pearl is said to be a book with the next book notice of The Triple Hoax. Farah's 12th edition states that the first printing has the next book notice of The Triple Hoax in plain text while the second printing has the next book notice in italics.

Which is it in this case? The seller might be selling the true first printing according to Farah's 12th edition. On the other hand, the seller might have the second printing up for sale but used an older guide which labeled the second printing as the first printing. The seller is not necessarily misleading buyers, but the end result is the possibility that the buyer could end up purchasing a second printing book with the mistaken belief that it is the first printing book. I have no idea in this case whether the seller sold the first or second printing. It is up to the prospective buyer to make certain before bidding.

I have noticed several instances recently of sellers who cite Farah's Guide and state that their listings of Thirteenth Pearl are the first printing but give no additional information. I have to wonder whether some of these people might be purposely misleading buyers. I cannot understand why some sellers state that a book is a first by Farah's Guide but do not back up the claim with the hard evidence.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #11

This lot has the second printing of Tolling Bell in dust jacket:

Nancy Drew Mystery of the Tolling Bell 1ST EDITION w DJ Item #220268182975

When the seller states that the book and jacket are the "1ST EDITION," many buyers are going to assume that the seller means that the book and jacket are the first printing. "First edition" and "first printing" are not the same, although many people think the words have the same meaning. This is why I exclusively use "first printing" so that no one can confuse what I mean.

It is apparent that the listing did confuse some buyers, since someone asks the seller whether there are any interior lists of titles and whether the list ends with this title. The seller states, "There are no interior lists of Nancy Drew titles in the book. Per my Farah's Guide (10th edition) - the book is a 1st printing/2nd printing (both are shown as being the same). Hope this helps :)"

I am not sure if it did help. I am left with the impression that this is a first printing, and I know that it is not. Of course, the seller stated that the book is the 1st/2nd printing, which is correct, but the jacket is definitely the second printing. What I do not understand is why the seller did not just come out and state that the book and jacket are the 1946B-2 printing according to Farah's Guide. Perhaps the seller wanted buyers to see "first edition" and think that the book and jacket are the first printing. The intent is questionable at best, and I have noticed that this seller uses the same terminology on other listings. Whenever I quote Farah's Guide in a listing, I give the actual printing number in the listing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Recent Crazy eBay Prices and Some Others

I found a few noteworthy auctions after a stretch of uninteresting auction results.

First of all, a seller tried twice to sell a complete set of the Applewood edition Nancy Drew books for above $1,000.00. Not surprisingly, no one bought the books when they were priced at over $1,000.00. In a post this summer to the Nancy Drew Sleuths group, I suggested that a complete set of Applewood editions would be worth around $500.00. For the previously mentioned listing, the seller finally managed to get $600.00 for the books:



Lot of 13 Vintage Nancy Drew Books by Carolyn Keene Item #170254389953

This one reminds me of the insanity from earlier this summer. The winning bidder paid $365.00 for 13 tweed Nancy Drew books. Why on earth would someone be willing to pay approximately $28.00 each for 13 ordinary tweed Nancy Drew books that do not have dust jackets? Actually, two people were willing to pay that much since the second highest bidder helped bid up the auction.

I have noticed that people will sometimes pay outrageous prices for older blue and tweed Nancy Drew books that are missing the jackets. I think that many people find the books to be more appealing and to look more like antique books when the books do not have dust jackets. The dust jackets make the books look more modern. The people who feel this way bid much higher on the bare books than they do on the ones with jackets. They should just buy books with jackets for lower prices and then sell the jackets to other collectors. They would save a lot of money!


RARE JUDY BOLTON CHEAPEST SHIPPING $3.99 L@@K L@@K L@@K Item #200246460292

Really, this one is just silly. Not only is the book described as RARE, but the seller places "L@@K L@@K L@@K" in the title. It was hardly necessary. The green spine picture cover editions of the Judy Bolton books are quite scarce, and just stating what the book is should sell it. The book sold for $27.00.


Lot of Dana Girls mysteries - vintage w/dust jacket Item #160274102763

This one closed at $50.00, which is quite excessive. Offered were two tweed Dana Girls books with dust jackets. The books are #3 and #5, which are not hard to find. I usually have to give these titles away.


#22 Nancy Drew Climbing In The Crumbling Wall - Minty! Item #150286977817

No doubt the bidders recognized this book and jacket as being the true first printing from 1945. It closed at $738.88. This is quite extreme even for this hard to find first printing and for the excellent condition of the dust jacket. Normally it does not sell for anywhere near this level. I consider it to be worth around $200.00 to $300.00 and perhaps worth $400.00 for such a nice dust jacket. Even so, one can find this first printing for $20.00 to $150.00 by careful searching. I know because I have bought a couple at low prices. Many of these are offered for sale, like this one, and are not described as first printings. It was fortunate that the seller photographed all of the jacket so that buyers could see that the back panel listed Judy Bolton books instead of Beverly Gray books.

Also, the title given by the seller, "Climbing in the Crumbling Wall" sounds rather intriguing.



The same couple of people are still forcing each other to pay huge prices for certain Judy Bolton books. This one, which is nowhere near a first printing, sold for $130.29. It is just an ordinary tweed Judy Bolton book that should have sold for around $10.00 to $30.00.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #10

I have stated how buyers can look at the spines of the Nancy Drew picture cover books to get an idea of whether the books have the original text. The picture covers with the original text tend to have the titles in mixed-case letters while the later books have the titles in all capital letters.

Here is another listing in which the buyer asked for more information about the books:


The buyer asked for a range of copyright dates in order to determine whether the books have the original or revised text. This is a good question; however, I wish to point out how a seller's pictures can reveal the answer without the buyer having to ask. The seller answered that the books were published from 1959 to 1971 and that all of them have 20 chapters, except for #24 from 1947. This seller's pictures are blurry, so it is very hard to discern what the titles on the spines look like; otherwise, we could tell for certain from just the spines whether the books are the revised text books. When the spines do not reveal the answer, the front cover illustrations will.

Refer to my Nancy Drew Picture Cover Gallery to view the cover art for the picture cover books.

With just a few exceptions, all of the Nancy Drew picture cover books that have the very last cover art, the art that is still in print to this day, have the revised 20 chapter text.

By knowing this piece of information, you can look at these blurry pictures from the above listing, see that all of them except for #24 have the final cover art, and tell that the books have the revised text: