Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nancy Drew $1 Box Picture Cover Editions

Note: No part of this blog post is intended to criticize David Farah and his guide. Some of you are way too sensitive and seem to think that any opinion that differs from Farah's is somehow a criticism of him and his guide. I have great respect for Farah, and all I am doing is pointing out that collectors' observations about scarcity and value may be different from what is presented in a guide.

I was asked recently about the Nancy Drew $1 box editions and which ones are the hardest to find. The Hardy Boys guide mentions which $1 box editions are the most scarce. By contrast, the Nancy Drew guide makes no comments about scarcity, and all of the values are nearly identical in Farah's Guide. If the Hardy Boys $1 box editions have unequal scarcity and a great disparity in value, then one could conclude that the Nancy Drew $1 box editions also have unequal scarcity and a disparity in value.

Farah's Guide values #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 at $20 each. He values #37 and 38 at $25 each. I have found #38 to be by far the easiest one to find. I acquire an extra copy of #38 at least once every few months without even trying. #38 has little value unless in excellent condition. As I have detailed in past blog posts, we now know that two $1 box printings of #38 exist, which explains why it is so common. Since #38 is so easy to find, its value is the lowest of all of the $1 box editions.

#37 is also rather easy to find. I also acquire extras of #37 on a somewhat regular basis, but less often than with #38. This means that #37 should also have a lower value than the remaining $1 box editions.

Of the other six, #6 is the easiest one to find. After that, I am not sure which ones are the easier ones to find, but #4 is definitely one of the most scarce $1 box editions. I sold a #4 $1 box edition in an auction in the last couple of years for something like $35, and the book was not in that great of shape.

This brings up another point. The $1 box picture cover editions are all very hard to find in excellent condition. Even with #38, collectors have difficulty in finding a nice copy. The $1 box books seem to be made from similar materials as the book club edition picture cover books. The book club PCs are also really hard to find in decent condition. #7 with the 1932 text also seems to be made from the same materials. The other first PCs are generally easier to find in nice shape than the $1 box books and #7 with the 1932 text.

To go back to value, Farah assigns all of the $1 box editions approximately the same value. Let's say that Farah's value is accurate for #37 and #38 in excellent condition. Before I continue, I should clarify what I mean by "excellent condition," since the last time I made this distinction someone missed my point completely and told me that it was easy to find that book.

Here are two photos of first picture cover books for Nancy Drew #19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24, from left to right. The first photo is of the bottom edges of the books, and the second photo is of the top edges of the books.

I consider the above books to be in excellent condition. The following two photos are of my $1 box edition picture cover books, #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 37, and 38 from left to right. The first photo shows the bottom edges, and the second photo shows the top edges.

Do you see the difference in condition between the two groups of books? I consider my first printing picture cover books of #19 through 24 to be in overall excellent condition. I do not consider my $1 box books to be in overall excellent condition, although the books I have are generally in better shape than many copies that surface.

Now that I have clarified what I mean by condition, I suggested that we consider Farah's value of $25 for #37 and #38 to be accurate for books in excellent condition. Farah assigns #1-6 a value of $20 each. However, #1-6 are harder to find than #37 and 38. For that reason, the value of each of #1-6 in excellent condition is probably more like $50, if one in excellent condition can be found. The value could possibly be higher.


Mike G said...

Interesting post. I agree with the differing value for the Nancy Drew dollar box volumes. I have certainly noticed that the $1 box books seem to have not held up as well as other 1st printings of picture cover books (like you illustrated with your photos). The spines, especially, always seems to be more worn and creased than other books when they are displayed on a shelf. Any chance that the dollar box editions were manufactured at a different printer (similar to the fact that some of the Hardy Boys books were printed by two different companies)??

I have been watching the $1 box Drews sell on eBay pretty carefully this past year, and to me it appears that the most difficult dollar box volumes to find are Red Gate Farm, and then Lilac Inn. I was surprised you thought Red Gate was one of the easiest; I'm still trying to find one that Is in great shape to replace the one I have.


Jennifer said...

I could always be wrong about Red Gate Farm, although I believe that I have acquired a few extras of it over the years. I also could be thinking of the black box version of Red Gate Farm which I do see rather often. I hope a few other people will comment with their observations as to scarcity, because then we might get a better idea of the real situation.

If a different printer was used for these books, that would explain why the books seem to be made from different materials.

Paula said...

Very interesting post! I agree that all of the $1 books are HTF in VG or better condition, and because of that, I think they should be valued higher. Even if they have relatively light wear, as Mike mentioned, many of the spines are not pleasant in appearance due to very visible creases that are darkened. (Does anyone know how the spines get creased like that when the binding itself is quite tight?) Anyway, because of the problem finding one in VG condition, I would place the value at a minimum of $25 for a book in VG condition, and I would value the ones that are more scarce even higher.

I possess all of the $1 box books in my collection, but only 3 of them do I consider VG condition. My Lilac Inn and Fire Dragon are the worst condition and I have looked to replace them for quite awhile and have not been able to do so. I found Bungalow Mystery the easiest to find and even had one to sell. I agree with Mike that Red Gate Farm is not that easy to find in VG condition. Also, although there are probably more Old Clock books around because it is the first in the series, I think those first books got "loved" a lot and are not all that easy to find in VG condition. And for collectors condition is, if not everything, a very big thing!

So although the values I'm suggesting may seem high, they would drop significantly as soon as the condition is "Good" or lower. Unlike the 1932 Clue in the Diary PC, where the higher than normal value is based on the scarcity of the book itself, in the case of the $1 box books, I think the value has to do with condition in conjunction with the fact that it is the 1st PC prinitng.

So Jennifer, next time you come across one of those VG Fire Dragons, please let me know! ;) I just checked, and there has not been a 1st PC of Fire Dragon in VG condition sold on Bonanza in the last year, and there are none available right now.

Paula said...

Jennifer, Since you wrote here about condition, I'd like to ask some specific questions related to that. I feel confused about how to describe binding flaws. What is a cracked hinge to you? What is an intact binding? Farah talks about the binding as "completely intact", "slightly loose but generally intact, and "not intact on one side". I'm not sure what that means exactly and I wonder if you could share your interpretation of this terminology. What do you considered a "loose" binding? Does "not intact on one side" mean the binding is actually broken and separated completely from the cover? Or something less drastic? I'm thinking specifically of the picture cover books and appreciate any insight you can share. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

I tend to over-describe flaws to be on the safe side. When I state that a book has a cracked hinge, it is often what is defined as "hinges starting" by seasoned book sellers. I don't think most of my buyers would know that term so I avoid it. Actually, the hinge might not be even that. I use "cracked hinge" when I see that the hinge is just slightly affected without any actual separation. I use "split" when I see actual separation, like at least 1/4 of an inch or more where the webbing and inside of the spine are at least partially visible.

To me, an intact binding is one that is not damaged or weak at all. It is very secure and strong.

I assume that "not intact on one side" probably refers to a cracked or split hinge. If that is Farah's meaning, then to him, "completely intact" probably means with neither hinge cracked nor split.

Andy said...

I have found in my relatively short time collecting series books that Lilac Inn and Red Gate Farm have been the most difficult for me to find with the $1 box in very good condition.

My copy of those two titles are definitely the worst in my collection.

I agree with earlier comments that those books must have been printed at a different location or by a different printer entirely because the quality of materials is clearly inferior.

And like Paula, I agree that they should be valued at a higher price, especially if they are in very good or even mint condition. I was lucky enough to win an eBay auction a month or so ago that included a near-new-looking $1 box copy of The Hidden Staircase. It looked like it just came off the press.

Regarding the other $1 box editions, I seem to see quite a few Stagecoaches (which, oddly, Farah values at more than any of the $1 box books 1-6. The true 1st printing of Fire Dragon in very good condition also seems scarce to me. I've only seen a really nice copy a couple of times in the past year and a half.

And finally, I may be in the minority, but I don't see a whole lot of nice $1 box Old Clocks. I'd probably grade my copy as "good," but would definitely like to upgrade at some point.

What I wouldn't give to find a Buy It Now auction with all the $1 box books in very good or better condition with a low BIN price! Ah, to dream!