Thursday, March 11, 2010

Clues to Collecting #7

Question: Regarding the $1 boxes, are the books you have listed in your poll the only ones that were printed with it? I've been wondering about that. Also, were all of the books that were printed with the $1 box, also printed with the blackened box (I'm assuming indicating their second printing)?

Answer: Just #1-6, 37, and 38 were printed with the $1 boxes. All of those books also were printed with the blackened box, which is the second picture cover printing.


Question: I have gone through your main web site looking for information on a 1970 reprint by Grosset and Dunlap in which the Nancy Drew books were combined in pairs and printed with a grey pictorial cover. Each copy has two of the original Nancy Drew books in it. I have been all over the Internet and finally I found some of them on Abe's books, but they don't provide any information. Are these a rare printing or unusual? Is that why I can't find them mentioned with all the other printings of Nancy Drew? I have 19 of these books. Would there have been more in the collection?

Answer: Those books are known as the "twin thriller" editions. They are a book club edition from the 1970s. I don't have a page on them, but here is one from another site:

Twin Thriller Editions

There are 27 books in the set of the smaller sized ones. There is a smaller set of 8 books in which the books are slightly taller and thicker.

The books are harder to find than the regular editions, but they are not that scarce.


Speaking of your booth, when I've receive PC books from you, I've noticed they always have a nice sheen on the covers that really adds to their beauty. Do you use something special to clean them? The matte covers can get dull, and I've tried gently cleaning them various ways, but I don't ever get that nice sheen. Is there a secret to this or are they just better books?

Answer: I do not clean books before I sell them. A small number of the books that I have sold had price stickers that I removed with lighter fluid, but I have done nothing to the vast majority of them. To answer in short, the books are in better condition.

Now, I will give the long answer. I have noticed that some of the print runs are shinier than others, so some of the matte Nancy Drew books are "dull matte" while others are "glossy matte."

The books that were not shiny when first printed tend to get dirty easily while the books that have a shinier finish repel the dirt better. Some of the early 1960s Nancy Drew picture covers are very shiny while most of them are just a little shiny. Some of the 1970s PCs are very dull while others are shiny to varying degrees.

Some people say that they clean their picture covers with Windex, but I would never use liquid on one of the dull matte books. I find that liquid of any type gets absorbed very easily by those books and causes some removal of the color on the cover.

The only safe liquid to use on paper or dull matte books is lighter fluid, but it can even stain paper in isolated instances. Some people say that Goo Gone works on PCs, but I find that Goo Gone is kind of greasy and leaves a residue unless the surface is shiny. I never use it on books.

Sometimes dull matte books can be partially cleaned by using a soft eraser, like the kind that artists use. Soft erasers crumble easily and do not wear away at paper as much as regular erasers, like the ones on pencils.

Sometimes PCs can be buffed and made shinier by rubbing with a soft cloth, so this can be tried to see if it helps.


keeline said...

When I managed a bookstore that specialized in this sort of book for a dozen years or so, we handled a lot of books and tried several methods for basic cleaning and sticker removal.

Lighter fluid was recommended early but I didn't like it because it was a little oily.

Instead we use rubber cement thinner. Although this can be found in tiny bottles, it was more economical for us to get pint or gallon cans. It evaporates very quickly. This is good for the book but means that it is important to cap it tightly, including the inner cap on the pint and gallon cans.

As always, read the labels so you will be aware of potential harm that can come from this kind of solvent. Use in a well-ventilated place and not near flames or heat sources.

Test the solvent on a tiny part of the cover to make sure it won't cause a problem. We had good success with this on the G&D pictorial covers of the 1960s-80s. It seems like they'd be OK on the modern flashlight editions as well.

If I have a sticker I want to remove from a book, I will get out a long-blade pocket knife and have it open and ready to go. I fold a clean paper towel in quarters, hold it over the open mouth of the can or bottle and invert it to dampen the paper towel.

Next I daub the wet paper towel on the sticker to soak it thoroughly. This will usually soften the glue of the sticker. I then use the knife blade to gently peel it up. I am most comfortable pulling the blade to me for this process but you have to be careful if you do so. If the sticker dries out, daub more thinner on it and continue.

After the sticker is removed, there may be some glue residue and dirt. Dampening a clean portion of the paper towel with the thinner, I can then rub along the main grain (vertically) to wipe away the glue and dirt. Keep in mind that some of this is transferred to the paper towel so you don't want to resmear that on the book itself.

Sometimes when a book is dingier than it seems like it should be, we might use this last technique to clean it overall. After one gentle rub, look at the paper towel to see what has been removed. If it is book color rather than dirt, stop.

I have not tried it but I have had book restoration people suggest using balls of white bread (e.g. Wonder) to rub the book and remove surface dirt.

James Keeline

keeline said...

The eraser we preferred was the white Staedtler Mars plastic erasers. These are soft and do not do as much damage as the pink ones. You can get the Mars erasers in blocks, in pencil-shaped click holders, or in long tubes. At home I use the click versions. At the store we got the tubes and had an electric handle to spin the tubes.

An eraser of any kind should be used gently. It is often necessary to clean off the dirty potion by rubbing it on coarse cloth (like denim jeans material).

Waxy crayons or grease pencils (favorites of thrift stores) cannot be easily removed with erasers. If it is on the book cover the rubber cement thinner works well.

If it is on a page, we use rubber cement. The technique is to paint on the rubber cement, let it dry and then rub the dried cement off in a ball with one's finger. This process is repeated several times to take the crayon or grease pencil off a layer at a time. It may take a thin layer of the paper with it so be careful.

The library shelf labels are often just about impossible to remove. They use a different glue that is more permanent when compared with the price stickers typically used. Sometimes it's better to leave the shelf label on the spine than to try to remove it.

Ex-library copies are automatically reading copies. However, for some books they are the only copies which can be found for a given title. Depending on the book we might remove the pocket or neatly cut out the pocket page.

I would be very reticent to use Windex glass cleaner (ammonia + soap) on any book. Sometimes it is OK on very glossy modern books but it is another case where you have to test. If you are going to test, spray some on a clean paper towel and rub gently in an inconspicuous place on the book.

In the early days of the bookstore we had a case where the black lettering on one of the large Platt & Munk picturebooks was completely removed by wiping the cover with a Windex-dampened paper towel. The color printing was left on the paper label but the black vanished. Needless to say, this caused more damage than a slightly dingy book would have.

Different things dissolve with different solvents so test on an unimportant copy whenever possible.

James Keeline

Paula said...

I swear by plain micro-fiber cloths! I use these cloths to gently dust page edges and buff picture cover books. If the book is still dingy, I may then use Absorene to lift surface dirt - it does work for this, but it won't remove heavy soiling.

Tip: don't use the Absorene like an eraser, rubbing the cover with pressure; instead, lightly rub across the whole surface with it so little bits of Absorene kind of move around the surface and absorb the dirt. When used properly, you will have to brush off the surface when you are done, to get the tiny particles of Absorene off, and then wipe it again with the micro-fiber cloth to bring back the shine.

I've experimented, and anything that will remove heavier soiling, will also remove color from the cover with it, basically because of abrasion needed to lift ground in dirt. Some lighter dirty marks left behind by Absorene can be removed by gently using SOME vinyl type erasers, without noticeable damage. Again you have to experiment to find the right eraser. I have some that are neon colors that go on the back of pencils that work well, but I don't know what brand they are now (threw the bag away....) :( They flake away like the Absorene and dirt doesn't get on the eraser itself.

I never remove stickers, but if there is sticker residue, I will try first to chip off any chunks with my fingernail. Sometimes the residue is so dry and brittle, most of it will come off this way, but of course, you can't scratch hard on the cover itself. I use a little Goo-Gone (citrus scented) on a cotton ball to remove whatever residue is left or whatever I can. Then wipe the cover right away with a micro-fiber cloth to remove any Goo-Gone left behind. This is all on picture cover books of course, not pages or cloth cover books.

I'm interested to hear about whatever techniques others use! I enjoyed reading Jennifer and James comments and I hadn't heard of the rubber cement - I will have to try that. John Axe in his book talks about using Windex on a paper towel to clean varnished DJ's and PC's - I didn't particularly like this method. The micro-fiber cloths are softer and there are gentler, kinder cleaners available today, I think. He also mentions Turtle Wax Zip Wax as a cleaner specifically for picture covers! I couldn't quite figure out how this would be done, so I would appreciate any ideas in this regard - I believe some of the readers of this blog knew John Axe, so maybe someone knows.

Anyway, sometimes the best thing is to leave them alone. I can't tell you how many books I've received in lots on ebay that have blue ink running down or water stains or colors rubbed off because you can tell someone tried to clean them. Usually it's one or two books in a lot and then the seller realizes it's hopeless!

P.S. Just wanted to mention - BIG pictures came back for me tonight on Bonanzle. :)