Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Approach in Collecting Hardy Boys Books

My Nancy Drew collection consists of around 2,000 books.  Early on, I decided that not only did I want all cover art and text variations, but that I needed the first printing of each cover art and text variation.  Additionally, I determined that I wanted the library editions and international editions as well.  

It's easy to be obsessed with first printings of Nancy Drew books since we have a price guide that details all first printings.  People tend to be more interested in collecting first printings and variants when a detailed price guide exists.

I have managed to acquire most first printing Judy Bolton books.  Clarke's Guide to the Judy Bolton series helped greatly.

This is an out-of-print guide that is about impossible to find.  It gives the first printing points for all Judy Bolton books.  It has a few minor errors but is overall very accurate.

I have also managed to acquire most first printing Beverly Gray books.  The Beverly Gray series is a favorite of mine, so I have greatly desired to obtain all of the first printing books.  Beverly Gray went through fewer printings than Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton, which makes it easier to discern whether a book is the first printing.

So, I have been most obsessed with Nancy Drew followed by Beverly Gray and Judy Bolton.  Both the Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton series have guides, which helped.  I would also like to have all of the Dana Girls first printings, but a guide does not exist.  The Dana Girls books went through quite a few printings, which makes it harder to tell whether a book is the first printing.  This means that I have not tried as hard to acquire first printings as I did for the other series. 

An unpublished Dana Girls guide exists, but since it will almost certainly remain unpublished, it will never be of help.  The author wanted to perfect it before it entered a first printing.  He wanted the first printing to be the first and only printing.  Unfortunately, he lost interest before the book ever made it to that first printing.  Some people criticized David Farah many years ago for continuing to release new updated editions of his Nancy Drew guide every few years.  But at least his guide was published.  If he had tried to perfect it first, he would have never published it.

My interest in the boys' series books is lower than in the girls' series.  Mostly, I don't collect them.  I have had a very mismatched set of original text Hardy Boys books since the late 1990s, but I have not cared about putting together a nicer set until the last year or so.  Even then, I want my books to cost less than $20 each, which limits me greatly.

A very detailed price guide to the Hardy Boys series does exist, and I do use it to determine various things about my Hardy Boys books.  Interestingly, I am little interested in acquiring first printings, and I certainly do not want all variations.  Don't get me wrong; I would love to have every first printing Hardy Boys book in dust jacket if they were to all to fall into my hands at no more than $20 each.  But that's not going to happen.

If I do end up with a first printing Hardy Boys book with a decent dust jacket, then I will keep it.  I have bought several large lots of Hardy Boys books in the last year, and I compare each book up against mine, deciding which one to keep.  Since I am not obsessive, I just go by certain general guidelines.

In general, I keep no Hardy Boys books with wartime paper.  The wartime series books will be turning to dust within a few more decades, so I want nothing to do with them.  I have sold a lot of my wartime series books for different series since I know what will happen to them in the not-so-distant future. I have now been collecting series books for nearly 23 years.  The wartime condition books are in significantly worse shape than they were 23 years ago. 

When deciding which Hardy Boys books to keep, I sometimes will keep the earlier Hardy Boys book for a particular title even when in worse shape, but only if something about that earlier book appeals to me.  The biggest deciding factor is the endpapers.  I like the orange endpapers much more than the brown multi endpapers.  I do not have this preference with respect to the different endpapers on the Nancy Drew books, but that is because my goal with the Nancy Drew books is to collect first printings.

Since first printings are not very important in my Hardy Boys set, I look more at aesthetic details like the endpapers.  I will keep a tweed book with orange endpapers over a tweed book with brown multi endpapers even when the dust jacket of the former book is in slightly worse shape.  I really like the orange endpapers.

This is my current set of Hardy Boys books with dust jackets.  Click on each image to see a larger version.

For the Hardy Boys picture cover books, I only want the books that list to Desert Giant, which are either the first picture cover printing or one of the earliest picture cover printings.  Since I only want books that list to Desert Giant, my interest in the picture cover books ends with #41.  I do, however, have #44 in a first printing, at least for now.  I do not want any past that point for sure.

This is my set of Hardy Boys picture cover books.

I recently picked up most of the Wanderer softcover Hardy Boys books at a book sale.

They were cheap and in excellent condition, with most of them first printings.  I couldn't resist.  I do not think that ultimately I will keep them, although I am keeping them for now.  I don't want to make a hasty decision in deciding to get rid of them.  I am also keeping the 1927A-1 copy of The Tower Treasure that I found recently in a local store.  That book is the red book that can be seen on the far left of the first photograph of my Hardy Boys books with dust jackets.

I would like to have a set of white spine Hardy Boys books in dust jackets.  I don't care if they are red books or brown books.  I have paid more than $20 for two books that I now have.  I don't want to pay more than $50 to $75 or so, which means that I won't be building that set very quickly.

This post was written because I was comparing a bulk lot of Hardy Boys book I had just received up against the ones I had.  I kept some jackets in slightly worse shape because of the orange endpapers.  As I realized how different my logic is than how I approach my Nancy Drew set, I wrote up this post.  I hope you found it of interest.


Jublia said...

Viking Symbol also lists to Giant.
Thanks for the plug!
More info at

Jennifer White said...

You're right; it does. I noticed that today as I had one to list on eBay. So I guess I want them up through Viking Symbol. :)

And, you're welcome!

JackWayne said...

I really liked this post. I enjoy seeing and hearing about other people's collections. I'm thinking if you go for #42, you might as well look for a first of #43 with the Tri-Fold; it can be had for around $25 on one of those auction sites...

As a HB collector vice seller, I actually like the wartime editions. I didn't know the deterioration could be as drastic as you mentioned, but strangely that doesn't bother me. I only collect the ones with the notice, gives it a sort of historical feel.

If you like the Orange Gretta endpapers, and you want a challenge, try the Brown Gretta ones from 1932. The books are nice, and you can buy beautiful reproduced DJs from (also good for your 1927A-1 of #1).

Last comment: What editions are your copies of #21 and #22?

Jennifer White said...

The first #21 has a jacket that lists to Lost Tunnel. The second #21 is a library binding which I like because of the spine design.

The first #22 is the second printing, 1943B-2, book and jacket, and it is a wartime printing with pulp paper. The second #22 has a jacket that lists to Secret Panel. The third #22 is a library binding that I also like because of the spine design.

Both library bindings are older ones that likely date from the late 1940s or early 1950s.

I also really like seeing people's collections.

JackWayne said...

I wonder, down the road would you entertain a segment where your readers posted a picture or two of their series book collection(s) with a few comments? That would be an interesting series of blog posts I think.