Monday, February 18, 2013

Nancy Drew #34 The Hidden Window Mystery

In Nancy Drew #34, The Hidden Window Mystery, Nancy learns that a sizable reward is offered for any information leading to the whereabouts of a certain stained-glass window.  Nancy decides that the window is likely located near Charlottesville, Virginia, and plans to visit her cousin, Susan Carr, who lives in Charlottesville.

A neighbor of Nancy's, Mrs. Dondo, claims that a letter containing money was lost when the mail carrier, Mr. Ritter, passed out front of Nancy's home.  Mrs. Dondo's brother, Alonzo Rugby, just happens to live in Charlottesville, so Nancy plans to investigate him during her trip.  And Ned, Burt, and Dave briefly show up in Charlottesville during Nancy's stay.  This is all so amazingly convenient.

Also convenient is the fact that peacocks show up everywhere, kind like the Centrovians in The Scarlet Slipper Mystery.  The missing stained-glass window has a peacock on it.  An estate in Charlottesville has peacocks.  A man tries to scare the residents of Ivy Hall with a peacock on the lawn.  That same man disguises his footprints by strapping brass peacock feet to his shoes.  The last one is just plain bizarre.

French edition
On page 8 of the original text, Mr. Ritter tells Nancy, "I've been bringing you letters since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, Nancy."  I don't think so.  Mr. Dixon (or Nixon in the revised text) was Nancy's mail carrier in Nancy's Mysterious Letter.  This remark was wisely removed from the revised text.

I find it curious that Mr. Ritter has the same problem as Mr. Dixon did in Nancy's Mysterious Letter.  Mr. Dixon stops at Nancy's home and his mail pouch is stolen.  Mrs. Skeets claims that a letter containing money was stolen.  In The Hidden Window Mystery, the mail is blown around the neighborhood when Mr. Ritter loses consciousness.  Mrs. Dondo claims that a letter containing money has gone missing.  In both books, the mail carrier has a perfect record and is worried that the missing letter will put a black mark on his record.  In both books, the mail carrier will soon retire.

The Hidden Window Mystery is a great story.  I found it engaging from start to finish in both texts.  I do wish that the story were not so coincidence-driven.  I find it hard to believe that Nancy decides to search in Charlottesville for the window, stays with her cousin Susan, and finds the missing window in a house extremely close to Susan's home.  The window could have been anywhere in the northeast, but it is conveniently found exactly where Nancy chooses to search.  The reader has to suspend disbelief.

Both texts are equally good.  The biggest difference between the two texts is that the original text has a few racial stereotypes that are not present in the revised text.


Laura said...

This post makes me sad because it must be the end of the original v. new comparisons. (Because didn't the revisions stop after 34?)

Mark Vogel said...

We need your advice! We posted 12 Nancy Drew books on eBay as a favor for a neighbor who is downsizing. We listed them as 1st edition because the copyright page were like this: "Copyright, 1930, by GROSSET & DUNLAP, Inc. All Rights Reserved The Secret of the Old Clock". All 12 copies were like that. Without additional copyright dates, or the "98765432" numbering, we assumed they were 1st Ed. Another eBay seller sent us a scathing message and said we were "scummy" for selling 1950s reprints as 1st edition. We pulled them down right away and apologized to the other seller for not knowing. How can we determine if a Nancy Drew book is 1st Ed.? We have a total of 24 of them.

Jennifer White said...

I apologize on behalf of all collectors who would never send a scathing message to a seller. That person was completely out of line, but unfortunately, a few collectors like to bully eBay sellers.

The copyright pages of Nancy Drew books were seldom changed, and the publisher never used the numbering system 10987654321.

You can get an idea of the age of the books by viewing the photos on this page.

Nancy Drew Formats Page

That page also explains how to tell how old a book is by the list pages, but here is some more detailed information that I shared on another page.

"The copyright page is the last place to look when you are trying to discover the age of a Nancy Drew book. Grosset and Dunlap very rarely made changes to the copyright page. All copies of The Secret of the Old Clock printed from 1930 through early 1959 have 1930 as the only year listed on the copyright page. From 1959 and on, The Secret of the Old Clock was printed with 1959 as the year on the copyright page. Clearly, the copyright page does not narrow down the year of printing very well.

The two easiest places to look in order to determine the age of a Nancy Drew book are on the dust jacket’s front flap, if the book still has its dust jacket, and on an interior list of titles. The last title present in the list of Nancy Drew titles will tell you what the age of the book is. For instance, if the dust jacket's front flap lists to The Clue in the Crumbling Wall, then the book was printed in 1945, which is the year of publication for The Clue in the Crumbling Wall. Or, if the dust jacket's front flap lists to The Hidden Window Mystery, then the book was printed in 1956, which is the year of publication for The Hidden Window Mystery.

When the book is missing its dust jacket, refer to the interior list of titles, if present. The earlier books from the 1930s and early 1940s have post-text ad pages with lists of titles. The later Nancy Drew books will usually have a pre-text list of titles which will give you the same information.

Important: When I refer to a pre-text list of titles, I do not mean a list that may appear on the copyright page. Since Grosset and Dunlap rarely updated the copyright page, any list of titles that appears on the copyright page will almost always not be accurate. If there is a pre-text list of titles that can be used to date a book, it will appear on a separate page from the copyright and title page, usually right after the endpapers."

If you have questions or need further information, feel free to ask.

Jennifer White said...

Revisions did stop at #34, but I have written reviews for #35-37. Even though I can't compare texts, I want to try to review the books up to #56.

Mark Vogel said...

Hi Jennifer!
Thank you SO MUCH for getting back so quickly with your excellent information! I used to work for a book publisher, and we were always super-careful when creating subsequent editions of our books, and re-designing the copyright page. I guess I assumed everyone was! :) Our neighbor decided to sell the lot at a local auction that has other old books. My wife is an eBay Top Rated Plus seller with 100% positive feedback, and was very upset with that other collector's comment (who, by the way, has only 98% positive :) ) Collectible books aren't her area of specialty, so she's going to stick with what she knows (holiday collectibles and antique dolls). Thank you again for your help!

Unknown said...

I, too, enjoyed both versions of The Hidden Window Mystery and the cover art for both versions is gorgeous. As Jennifer pointed out, the reader has to suspend belief when reading many of the coincidence-based Nancy Drew novels, especially those penned by Harriet Adams. Still, such coincidences are fun to read, especially for children.

I didn't realize the parallel plot of mail theft with Nancy's Mysterious Letter until Jennifer pointed it out.

I, too, find it terrible that some people within the series collectors community calling other e-Bay sellers like Mark and his wife "scummy." This abuse is so unnecessary. Why not a message politely saying "these books are not first editions because ...?"

Fortunately, only a small number of people who are series collectors are unusually unpleasant. Many more of these collectors are knowledgeable, fair and polite.

Laura said...

"Revisions did stop at #34, but I have written reviews for #35-37. Even though I can't compare texts, I want to try to review the books up to #56."

Super! Can't wait.