Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nancy Drew 1st Printing Auctions Part 1

I have been keeping quiet about the recent high-profile Nancy Drew auctions on eBay because of my interest in them. Most of what follows was written over a week ago, but I felt it was best to wait to publish my comments.

Jennifer Fisher has already written about the first auctions in her blog post, "Nancy Drew Format One Printings Sell at eBay."

I had been holding back on commenting until I had Bungalow Mystery in my possession. I was the person who bought it. It sold for $3,305.00.

This is the first time that I had ever bid high on one of these books and successfully won. I had the money on hand in my savings account, so I went for it. I was shocked that I won, and I thought it went below value.

Several people have already commented about these books and seemed to think that they were not very desirable due to the condition of the books. I disagree. The first printing books, though very scarce, are not that hard to find as compared to the dust jackets.

Shadow Ranch was the first printing book and jacket and sold for $2,130.00. It went for about what Farah's Guide states that it is worth. For me, the jacket was too age-darkened to be worth that much, although now I am second-guessing myself since I do not have that first printing dust jacket.

Red Gate Farm sold for $2,130.00, which I feel was a bit steep since the dust jacket is not that hard to find. It closed well above the Farah's Guide price, and I recall one in recent months closing at around $800 and not meeting the seller's reserve.

The Red Gate Farm first printing book is very hard to find, but the jacket is the easiest one to find of the early first printing dust jackets. The first five printings all have the identical dust jacket, so it is approximately five times easier to find. Many people take the jacket from the 2nd-5th printings and place on the first printing book in order to get the true first printing. That is why the jacket is not worth $2,000.

Years ago, I bought the second printing of Red Gate Farm with dust jacket for around $150. The second printing of Red Gate Farm has the identical dust jacket as the first printing. I later bought the first printing book for Red Gate Farm for around $90. I placed the dust jacket from the second printing book on the first printing book and created a matched first printing for the low price of around $240.

Lilac Inn sold for $2,330.00, but it was not the first printing book or the first printing jacket.

I do not think that the mold/mildew problem had any impact on the auctions considering how high the prices were. In fact, the comments about the books in the Nancy Drew Sleuths group and on the eBay Bookseller's Board have centered in on the mold/mildew situation and have completely missed the point that the first printing dust jackets are approximately 90-95% of the value.

Take the first printing of Old Clock with the intact 1930A-1 dust jacket that sold a couple years ago for $11,700. The first printing book without a dust jacket seldom sells for over $500, regardless of what Farah's Guide states. Take $11,700 and subtract $500 to get $11,200. $11,200 is 95.7% of $11,700.

I took the time to look at my very early blank endpapers books. Nearly all of the blank endpapers books with jackets in my possession have books that have some significant problems. The jackets are so important to me that I do not care if the book has a mildew stain on it. I cannot see the mildew stain when the jacket is on the book. I see the condition of the jacket as far more important, and I am certain that the other bidders felt the same way.

I have sought the first printing books and jackets now for nearly 14 years. I have not found it very difficult to acquire the bare books, with a few exceptions. The first printing books for #4 and #9 are the hardest from my perspective. #6 and #8 are next. The others are not very difficult to acquire, relatively speaking. For instance, I have the 1930A-1 Old Clock book in my collection, have sold three extras over the years, and have a fifth copy for sale right now. While the first printing Old Clock book is very scarce, it is infinitely easier to find than the dust jacket.

The Bungalow dust jacket for the book I bought is very nice. The spine and back panel have darkened with age, but how many of these jackets show up without the age-darkening? How many of these dust jackets show up at all? The main problem with the book is that it is warped. Aside from that, the book is in very nice shape and does not have the usual major problems that books have when exposed to moisture.

The book only smells very slightly musty so that the smell is not even bothersome. Be aware that I absolutely hate books that have a strong odor. I have to hold my nose very close to the book to smell it, so the smell is not a problem. There are no water stains inside or outside the book. The book has no price stickers and no writing inside. The illustrations are all there. The condition of the outside of the book is excellent except for the spotting on the back of the book. It is very surprising that the book is nearly undamaged except for the warping. Most all books that I have ever seen that are warped have noticeable damage. Aside from that, the book is very nice.

I own a book press. I placed the book in the book press, and it will remain there for an indefinite period of time.

If ultimately I want a better first printing book that is not warped, it can be found for no more than a couple hundred dollars. For now, I have the 1930A-1 Bungalow dust jacket on my 1930A-1 Old Clock book to keep it safe.

If I wanted to do it, I feel that I could put this book and jacket back up for sale at double the price and get a sale within six months to one year. Of course, I'm not planning to sell the book and jacket.

As many of you already know, there is a lot more to this saga, and I will write about the other two rounds of auctions in the coming days.


Jenn Fisher said...

The Bungalow Mystery was the best of that lot so you got a good deal! I was very surprised to see the Lilac Inn go so high since it wasn't even a first!


Gayle Kaye said...

I thought you got a great deal on the Bungalow and the condition appears to be comparable to several other firsts I have seen. If I was going to bid on any of them, this would have been the one (out of this set of 4 auctions). The only one I thought was totally outrageous was the Lilac Inn...can't fathom why a supposedly savvy book collector/dealer would have paid that much.


Jennifer White said...

Lilac Inn was surprising since neither the book nor the jacket were the first printing. I wonder if the buyer mistakenly thought the jacket was the first since the front flap listed to Lilac Inn. By just a casual inspection, it does appear to be a first printing, but it has the wrong list on the reverse side of the jacket.

Gayle Kaye said...

I wondered the same thing...maybe the buyer didn't check all the points. But I was told by someone who has had several dealings with him, that he's way too savvy for that. I emailed the seller as soon as I saw the auction, to let him know the #4 was not a first...even sent him a copy of the page from Farah's, but he said it was all Greek to him. I think #4 is a really tough "First" to get!


Jennifer White said...

I agree. It is hard to pin down the exact scarcity of the early books, but the first four are about equally hard to find. I may have seen more #3s than #4s up for sale, but I can't say for certain.

I have the #4 dust jacket due to a lucky Buy It Now earlier this year which I detailed in this post. That dust jacket had the wrong book paired with it, so I still need the first printing book of #4.

I have been seeking the first printing book of #4 for years but have not been able to get my hands on one in very good shape. I have seen some really rough ones up for sale, but since I have the jacket, I do not want one in rough shape.

For me, #4 is the toughest first printing book to obtain, since I still do not have it. #6, 8, and 9 are pretty tough for the bare books as well. That could perhaps have been a factor as to why the first printing book and jacket for #6 went so high. Perhaps the bidders wanted the book more than the jacket, although the price seems extreme.

Gayle Kaye said...

WOW! Finding a #4 first edition dust jacket on a Buy it Now! What a great find. That's the only #4 I know of purchased on ebay. It's weird....but I too found my #4 first edition jacket before the book, but it was a weird situation..... about 20 first edition dust jackets became available (no books). I purchased several of the jackets, including the #4. I also purchased a Twisted Candles first edition d/j. I located a #4 book right away but it took a long time before I found the #9 book....this was before ebay. In fact, my #9 book could use an upgrade. That's the only problem with finding the books without the d/j...they can be in rougher shape.

Jennifer White said...

After reading your comments and others' comments in the group, I have realized that my Buy It Now for the #4 first printing dust jacket was even luckier than I thought it was. At that time, I saw the #4 dust jacket as being about the same difficulty to find as the #2 and #3 first printing dust jackets, but now it sounds like it is indeed harder to find than those.

I also had my #9 first printing dust jacket first because it was on a second printing book. I finally found the book, but the book has a bit of wear. I definitely need an upgrade for it.