Saturday, February 27, 2010

Moving One Step Closer

The ultimate goal of advanced collectors of Nancy Drew books is to own all of the first printing books for #1-56 including all of the first printing jackets for #1-38.

I am not willing to pay the Farah's Guide value for the first printing books and jackets for the earlier Nancy Drew books. This makes it impossible to win auctions for books that are described correctly. I have to find auctions that are not described well, and I search for reasonable Buy It Nows for books and jackets that might be first printings. I will buy early books on speculation without knowing for certain which printing they are. For the earliest Nancy Drew books, buyers have to hit that Buy It Now button fast, or the lot will sell quickly to someone else. Buyers cannot take the time to ask questions.

I used to acquire first printing books and jackets at the rate of at least a couple per year until around five years ago when I only needed around half a dozen. For several years now, I have needed only two first printing books, #4 and #44, and four first printing jackets, #1, 3, 4, and 5.

I may now have a first printing of #44 Crossword Cipher, since it does list to Pine Hill on the back cover. It does not exactly match the first printing information in Farah's Guide, however. This does not concern me since eventually I should be able to acquire a Crossword Cipher which is definitely the first printing.

I am more concerned with my goal of owning all first printing books and all first printing jackets for Nancy Drew #1-38. My most important wants are the #4 first printing book and the #1, 3, 4, and 5 first printing jackets.

Since I am not willing to pay the Farah's Guide value for these books or jackets, I must try to find bargains. I am always looking for good Buy It Nows on eBay. This week, a seller listed four Nancy Drew books with blank endpapers and dust jackets in individual lots each with a Buy It Now of $300. I did not see the books until around five hours after they had been listed, and I am surprised that all four were still there. I did later check to see whether the four books I saw were the only ones that were listed in the first place, and they were.

I clicked on all four before making a final decision about any of them, but I knew immediately which one I had to have.

Nancy Drew Mystery at Lilac Inn

The dust jacket lists to Lilac Inn. I did grab Farah's Guide before buying it, which was risky since someone else could have purchased the book, but I wanted to know how many printings list to Lilac Inn on the front flap. The first two printings list to Lilac Inn on the front flap, so it could have been either one. I bought the book then looked at the other three books again.

Nancy Drew Secret at Shadow Ranch

The dust jacket lists to Red Gate Farm, so it is not the first printing. I own a second printing of Shadow Ranch with a rough dust jacket. I decided that I wanted a pretty nice early Shadow Ranch dust jacket, so I bought this one as well.

I decided to pass on the other two. Since that time, someone has bought the Bungalow Mystery book with jacket. The fourth book, Old Clock, has a pretty rough jacket, and someone placed the opening bid, thus removing the Buy It Now. That book has three days to go.

I received the two books I bought today. I have been hoping that Lilac Inn would have the first printing jacket, but I knew realistically that it probably would not since the other three books are later printings.

I opened the package and extracted Lilac Inn, which was wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap. The only difference between the first and second printing dust jackets is the list of books on the reverse side. The first printing jacket has a list of Grosset and Dunlap fiction in alphabetical order. The second printing jacket has the usual lists of series books that are found on most early jackets. Which would it be?

The jacket is in rough shape, and part of the reverse side print was visible due to a tear that was folded back. I saw "Jerry" and thought, "No! That must be Jerry Todd, and it is the second printing dust jacket with series books on it!" Darn, darn, darn. It was still good, but I was hoping for more.

I finally extracted the book from the wrapping and opened the book. There was the front flap list ending with Lilac Inn. I then removed the jacket, actually half the jacket since it is in two pieces, from the book and turned it over. I saw "Zane Grey" and a bunch of fiction titles that were not series books! It is the first printing dust jacket!

Yay! I had to stop and celebrate for a few minutes. I then returned to the book and examined everything against Farah's Guide, verifying that the jacket meets all of the points for the 1930A-1 first printing. Unfortunately, the book and jacket are mismatched, since the book lists to Clue in the Diary and meets the points for the 1931D-7 printing. This is slightly disappointing, as I still do not have a first printing book of Lilac Inn. Just slightly. Who cares? I'll get that first printing book yet!

This is what the jacket looked like once I had it placed in the mylar cover.

Not to worry, the star is on the outside of the mylar cover. I always mark my first printing jackets so I can find them easily.

Farah's Guide assigns a value of $3,000 to the Lilac Inn first printing jacket and a value of $500 to the Lilac Inn first printing book. The values are for books and jackets in very good condition. I don't have the book, and the jacket has a few problems, although I think it is in pretty decent shape. Based on what I have seen in past auctions, I feel like this book and jacket would sell for at least $1,000 in an auction. These early first printing jackets are so scarce that buyers cannot be that choosy about condition. I do not expect to ever have an opportunity to upgrade this jacket.

Regarding Shadow Ranch, the book and jacket meet the points for the 1931C-3 printing. Farah assigns a value of $400 to the jacket and $250 to the book, and I have seen similar copies sell for at least around $500 in an auction.

I now only need the first printing dust jackets for #1, 3, and 5. I still need the #4 book. I need just three first printing jackets and one first printing book for #1-38.


Hannah said...

woohoo! congratulations on your find!

Paula said...

Congratulations, Jennifer! I bet this gave you a real rush! :)
I get excited just finding a 1st printing picture cover! LOL!

I was really shocked at the Farah's value for the 1st printing jacket and book! You may remember I have a 10th edition of Farah's (published in 1994) and the values there are $250 for the jacket and $150 for the book. I knew the values were out-of-date but this difference really floored me! $3000 for the jacket is 12 times the 1994 price - that's pretty amazing appreciation. The person who sold this book as a BIN may have had an old Farah's, and didn't realize exactly how much things had changed. I collect ND and I didn't realize it - probably because I haven't focused too much on the blue books at this point. The current value of PC's seems to be just $1 - $5 more than what was shown in Farah's 10th. I'm suspecting the seller had an old Farah's because, otherwise, if he had no idea of the going price, but knew it was a vaulable book, why not offer it at auction?

Anyway, nice find! What a thrill! Congrats again!

Paula said...

Sorry - off topic but I wanted to be sure everyone sees that I made a Bonanzle handpicked list for Nancy Drew books! Here's the link:

Be sure to read my comment. I tried to include as many sellers as I could, but I was limited by the quality of the pictures, having the word "clue" in the title (as this was my theme), and of course trying to make it interesting, so that maybe we'll get it on the main page.

One thing I learned is that Jennifer's pictures are the best! I think the rest of us, including myself, could use some improvement in the picture area to make our pics lighter, more clear, and more eye-attaching. Any hints for us, Jennifer? Enjoy!

Paula said...

OMG - BIG changes on Bonanzle re: pictures and side display of premiere items! Navigation is better but the pictures are smaller now.

Jennifer White said...

The seller might also be someone who does not have a Farah's but is aware of the prices for early Nancy Drew books. Whether he has a Farah's Guide or not, he is definitely aware that the list of titles is important and knows to give that information.

In recent months, most of the blank endpapers books with jackets have sold for between $300 and $500. None of them had first printing jackets. Without a completed listing for a first printing jacket for reference, one could easily conclude that my Lilac Inn is worth less than $500.

The prices in Farah's 12th edition are on target for the early Nancy Drew books with first printing jackets but a bit off for later books. The first PCs are priced at around $25 to $40, and for the most part are not currently selling at those levels. If they were, then I would not have had first PCs in my Bonanzle booth at $15 for one year without takers.

Paula said...

Yes, the current prices seem closer to the Farah's 10th edition (~$9.00 for first PC printings) than to the 12th price of $25-$40. I would say between $10-15 for most, higher for those that are more in demand of course, like Diary & Whistling Bagpipes. If they return to those prices someday, we who are buying now will do very well indeed!