Friday, June 24, 2011

More on the Tenth Nancy Drew 1930A-1 Old Clock DJ

To make this discussion easier, I will refer to the above book as Auction #1. This is the book that closed at $3,028.88.

I was surprised at the overall lack of interest in the recent auction for a 1930A-1 first printing Old Clock book with the intact first printing dust jacket. Previous auctions have resulted in a circus in which some collectors try to get the auction kept open, other collectors try to get the seller to sell privately at a low price, and collectors who are not interested in bidding gush about how valuable and PERFECT the book is and try to make sure everyone in the entire world knows about the auction.

I'm sure that some of the above did happen behind the scenes. I bid on the book as soon as I saw it and asked the seller to ignore what would seem like excellent offers. I have no way of knowing whether anyone tried to get the auction closed. What I do know is that no one announced the auction to the rest of us collectors and that no one appeared to gush about it. This auction went like the average eBay auction without the usual crazy behavior.

Another seller had a first format (but not the first printing) Old Clock with dust jacket up for sale at the same time, and that auction seemed to be noticed by far more people. I will refer to this auction as Auction #2.


Auction #2 closed at $350 and was for a book and jacket that are worth around $600 in excellent condition, according to Farah's Guide. Auction #1 closed at a much higher price, yet fell far short of the $10,000 Farah's Guide value. The book from Auction #2 is in better shape, but it still fell far short of its Farah's Guide value.

Someone mentioned Auction #2 in the Nancy Drew Sleuths group and did not mention Auction #1 at all. I thought that was odd, since I was expecting Auction #1 to be mentioned by somebody. Furthermore, Auction #2, while a far less valuable book, had twice as many watchers as Auction #1. This is also odd.

The number of watchers for eBay listings can be seen by visiting this site. I entered the search term "Nancy Drew Old Clock" to see the watchers for these two auctions. I took a screen capture right before Auction #1 closed.

Auction #1 had only 15 watchers, while Auction #2 had 33 watchers. Even more strange is that 11 people were watching that fixed-price listing for a common purse that can be found anywhere.

I wondered if Auction #2 had better placement in Best Match. No, Auction #1 was ahead by at least two pages, so that does not explain the discrepancy.

I bid on Auction #1 around 30 minutes after it started. Auction #2 did not receive a bid until nearly 24 hours into the auction. One of those wacky conspiracy theories is that auctions that get a bid at the very beginning are hidden from people who have not already viewed it. Keep in mind that I really don't believe the conspiracy theory, but I have to consider it for these auctions.

One reason for the lack in interest in Auction #1 may be that most current buyers are not interested in first printings. They may be more interested in excellent condition books. For those people, Auction #2 may have seemed more desirable.

Many of the current buyers are not aware of the nuances of collecting Nancy Drew books. To the casual observer, Auction #1 and Auction #2 look like the same book and jacket. If buyers are not aware of the significance of the the front flap listing just three titles in Auction #1, they might see Auction #2 as much more desirable due to the condition of the book and jacket.

Auction #2 may also have been more desirable because of the seller. That seller always has a fantastic selection of very desirable series books and probably has a huge following.

Also, many buyers may have ignored Auction #1 because they thought that the closing price would be too high to afford. They may have preferred watching Auction #2.

Finally, eBay may have eroded its auction business enough that eBay is no longer the best place to sell valuable books.


Jennifer White said...

I decided to write my additional thoughts here.

Several people have wondered why the antiquarian book dealers did not bid on Auction #1. Normally one of them bids at least around $5,000 when the first printing dust jacket of Old Clock comes up for sale.

The person who bought the one from earlier this year has still not successfully sold his book. That probably would make him less likely to bid. The other dealer who normally bids on these books also did not bid. He might not have liked the condition of this book.

I also suspect that some book dealers are members of the Nancy Drew Sleuths Group. I seem to recall a book dealer who once posted a message in the group.

Usually, at least one member of the group makes sure that group members know about the first printing Old Clock auctions for books with jackets. I wonder whether this action guarantees that one of the dealers is aware of the auction.

While I do not know for certain, it is likely that at least some antiquarian book dealers monitor this blog. You can understand why I dislike advertising certain auctions.

Paula said...

Wow, I was shocked to see the website that shows how many people are watching particular ebay items! I thought that information was available only to the seller! Ve-e-ery interesting... (as Arty Johnson used to say, lol). So by placing items in our watch list we could be alerting other buyers to desirable auctions without even bidding - is that right?

I think the poorer condition of the book and dust jacket in Auction #1 may have put off the book dealers, as they want to be sure they can resell the book to their clientele. If they are selling to movie stars or other millionaires, those buyers are going to want a nice looking book, regardless of the cost. However, there are so few of these first printings and the DJ is all there... most probably they *didn't* see the auction, and weren't alerted by other collectors as you noted. The lesson is: if there is a book you want, for a price you can afford, you should bid and do so quietly, beacause you never know what will happen!

I found it ironic that the title for Auction #1 clearly describes the book as RARE, which of course it *is*. But as you have written many times before, the term is so overused on ebay that it doesn't mean anything anymore, and therfore doesn't attract attention. Ironic that a truly rare book is then easily overlooked.

I enjoyed reading your discussion of these auctions!

Gayle Kaye said...

Actually the dj for auction #1 is not intact. The dj is in two pieces held together by the small round circles. And the book was not a first printing book (think it was a 5th). Even if the book had been a first, it would have been replaced anyway due to heavy mildew damage. It's odd to get a first jacket on a later printing book, since usually it's just the opposite.

I too was very shocked at the lack of interest. I wondered if many collectors just didn't see it. I saw the auction right away and only told one person (the high bidder), who is thrilled to have this! It could be that the Beverly Hill's seller just didn't see it. I am sure had he bid on it, it would have gone for more $$$. I also was watching the other auction. It may have had more watchers, but it sold for a low price compared to what those early printings used to sell for.

Jennifer White said...

Good observation on the book not being the first printing. I did not bother to check into that, since I already own the first printing book. The book being a later printing and in bad shape had to have been contributing factors in the final price.