Friday, March 22, 2013

Nancy Drew Wanderer Hardcover Book Find Part 2

I wrote about my purchase of four Nancy Drew hardcover Wanderer editions with dust jackets on eBay.  This post is a continuation of that topic.

As I mentioned, collectors would prefer to have first printing books with white paper that are not library discards and are in excellent condition.  Since the first printing Wanderer books tend not to have white paper, collectors must make a decision about what is most important.  The preference for books that are not library discards outweighs all other considerations.

I had originally intended to swap the jackets on #75 The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery, keeping my jacket with the new book, since my book is a library discard.  I realized that my jacket is slightly faded, while the new jacket with the hard crease at the top is not faded at all.  Uh-oh.

I first ironed the new jacket on very low heat.  I only iron jackets in special situations like this one, and the process is always stressful, since much could go wrong very easily. I place paper on either side of the jacket and only have the iron on a small area and just briefly.  I did get the jacket to lay somewhat more flat, even though the crease will remain.

I took the book and placed it in my book press in the following fashion in order to force the outer spine to lay more flat.

I left it for over a week.  I did improve the upper spine, although it is still not even.  My old jacket has lots of surface impact marks.  Someone must have taken a pen to the mylar-enclosed jacket and scribbled over the front cover many times, since the jacket shows all of those indentations.  That made me decide to keep the new creased jacket along with the bumped book.  A creased jacket without the other flaws is better than the one I had.  Unfortunately, even my new jacket can still use an upgrade.

My old #75 is the first printing with yellowed paper and is a library discard.  My new #75 is the second printing with white paper and is not a library discard.  I have downgraded from a first printing to a second printing but upgraded the condition.

My old #60 is a library discard with very light wear.  It has the library pocket, so even with very light wear, the pocket decreases the desirability significantly among collectors.  The jacket has light wear but does have some surface impact marks.  The book is the first printing with yellowed paper.

My new #60 is not a library discard.  The jacket and book are in close to "as new" condition.  The book has a price written inside.  The book is the third printing with white paper.  Again, I have downgraded from a first printing to a third printing but upgraded the condition.

Both copies of #67 are first printings with yellowed paper.  My old book is a library discard while the new book is not.  My old #67 has moderate wear, and the jacket has surface impact marks.  My new #67 is in the same condition as #60 described above, which makes it an upgrade.

My old #70 is the second printing with slightly yellowed paper.  It is a library discard that has a very nice jacket with minor surface impact marks.  My new #70 is also the second printing, but the paper is slightly more yellowed.  It is not a library discard, and both the book and jacket are in close to "as new" condition.  I have downgraded to a book with slightly more yellowed paper, but otherwise, the book is an upgrade.

I decided to keep all four new books and all four new jackets, even though not all of the new books are first printings.  Here is a group photo showing my old books on the left and my new books on the right.

You can see that the condition of the books on the left is noticeably worse than the ones on the right, even though the books on the left are in great shape overall for library discards.  I have upgraded my Wanderer books and jackets so many times that I have lost count.  I have also swapped out dust jackets a number of times as well in order to keep a library discard book with less wear and match it with a better jacket from a library discard book that had more wear.  The desire has always been to have a book with as little wear as possible paired with a jacket with as little wear as possible that also does not have a library sticker on the spine. 

Here are some photos comparing the old and new books and jackets.  For each book, the first photo is of the old book and jacket, and the second photo is of the new book and jacket.  You will not notice much visible difference in the condition of the jackets, since the main difference has to do with the absence of the many surface impact marks in the new jackets.

I also photographed all of the jackets so that you can see the variances in the back panels, including codes and other information.  If I wished to be obsessive, I could convince myself to keep the variants.  However, I will not be keeping the extras.

This experience has caused me to re-evaluate what I think the Wanderer books and jackets are worth.  Since I have dealt primarily in library discards over the years, my opinion has always been that #57-60 or so are worth less than $20 and that the other titles are worth up to $50, depending upon which title and the condition of the jacket.  Library discards that have jackets without library stickers are valued at the top end of the range, and library discards with stickers on the jackets are valued less.  The more wear to the books and jackets, the less they are worth.

If I consider library discards to be worth up to $50, then books that are not library discards and are in "as new" condition must be worth considerably more.  I don't think it would be a stretch to say that #57-75 in that sort of condition are worth $75 to $100 each.  #76 and #77 would likely be worth $100 to $150 each.  #78 is worth whatever one is willing to pay.  I've always considered it to be worth more than $200.  I paid close to $300 for mine.

I can only recall seeing #78 twice on eBay in the last 15 years.  One time was in a complete set of Wanderer hardcover editions.  The books in that set were not library discards and appeared to be in close to "as new" condition.  That set sold for approximately $1,000, and this was at least 10 years ago.  The other time I saw #78 was probably during the same time period in an auction for a library discard in rough shape.  I believe it may have sold for around $50.  I did not bid on that auction, and as many years passed with none coming up for sale, I realized that I should have gone for it.

I have discussed the Wanderer hardcover editions with a few collectors in recent weeks.  One collector wondered whether it is just a few of us who value the books so highly and wondered whether the books are really worth what a few of us think they are worth.  Certainly, only some collectors would be willing to pay high prices.  I contend that since most all collectors who desire these books wish to avoid library discards, the ones that are not library discards are worth far more, especially if in "as new" condition.

Last, I believe the seller may have made a mistake by using the fixed-price format.  One collector expressed disappointment that he missed out on the books, and I suspect that some of you may feel the same way after reading through all of this.  If the seller had used the auction format and had the opening bid prices placed at the Buy It Now amounts of $40 to $65, I believe that at least some of the books might have sold for higher prices.  We'll never know.

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