Monday, August 26, 2013

The "Original" Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

Exactly what is an "original" Nancy Drew Mystery Story?  I have come across a number of collectors, presumably newer ones, who use the word "original" with no other word after it.  I have to assume that they mean "original text," but still, some of their comments indicate that they have assigned other meanings to the word.

I came up with a list of possible meanings, and also asked my followers on Facebook what they consider to be an "original" Nancy Drew Mystery Story.  Here are many possibilities.

#1-34 original text only, any format
#1-34 original and revised text
#1-38 blue books with or without dust jacket
#1-34 original text only and Applewood #1-21
#1-34 original text only with original dust jacket art

Most of these possibilities involve the original text, and I believe that people who want to know if a book is "original" mean exactly that.  The problem is that I cannot tell, and often the people who ask mention details that seem to indicate that they may be more concerned about first printings or first format printings.

I believe that the use of "original" by itself has been caused by Applewood.  Applewood describes its books as "The Originals Just as You Remember Them."  I'm pretty sure by the explanation on the back of the books that Applewood means that the books have the original 25 chapter texts along with the original cover art and original illustrations.

The problem is that some people may think that the statement means more than it does.  The Applewood editions are considered facsimile editions with the implication that the books are copied after the original first printing Nancy Drew books.  There is a problem:  None of the Grosset and Dunlap books are just like the Applewood editions.  No, really.  The Applewood editions are not exactly like any of the Grosset and Dunlap editions.  Applewood took from different formats of Nancy Drew books when it published its books.

First printing of Nancy Drew #1
The Applewood editions have the orange silhouette on the front cover, except the first Grosset and Dunlap printings of the first seven Nancy Drew books from 1930 to 1932 do not have the orange silhouette.  Later printings of those books and first printings of #8-23 have orange silhouette endpapers, but the Applewood books have blank endpapers.  The Applewood books #1-13 have four glossy illustrations that are bound in the very front of each book, but the early printings of #1-13 by Grosset and Dunlap have only one illustration in the front of the book with the other three illustrations scattered throughout the book.

Notice from the two scans that I placed above and below that the first printing of Nancy Drew #1 as published by Grosset and Dunlap does not look at all like the Applewood edition of Nancy Drew #1.  However, both books contain the original text.

Applewood #1
The reason why I believe that Applewood has helped cause the confusion is because I have had people question whether a Nancy Drew book is "original" based on the format.  One person thought that a book was not original because it was not the first printing.  Another person thought that a book was not original because it did not have the glossy illustrations.  Assuming that "original" refers to the original text, many people are confused about the formats.

I have put together some pages that explain ways to tell if Nancy Drew books have the original text.

Original and Revised Text Books

The above page shows the different types of bindings and tells which text you can expect the book to have.  For some binding styles, you can be 100% guaranteed that a book has the original text.

Nancy Drew #1-56 Cover Art Gallery

The above page was originally just a cover art gallery for the picture cover books.  Later, I took the time to place underneath each scan a note as to which text the book has.  Some books can go either way, but the vast majority of the books must have a certain version of the text.

If you are trying to figure out how old a Nancy Drew book is, study the following page.

Nancy Drew Formats

While new collectors can be easily overwhelmed, I am confident that spending an hour or so studying this information will answer most questions and eliminate most confusion.  If you are new to collecting Nancy Drew books, devote one evening to studying these links.  You'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

JackWayne said...

I'm more of a Hardy Boys fan, so for that series I consider 1-40 (non-revised) as "Original" Hardy Boys. Sure, 41-58 (or 66) could be considered part of the canon. But if I was selling books, I would only refer to the original text of 1-40 as "Original". Regaridng Applewood, H&H does a nice job of showing which printings were used for each book, even documenting where a 1940s printing plate set was used for one of the volumes. So much for "Original"...