Thursday, May 10, 2018

Penny Parker Mystery Stories - Titles and Information

This is the text of an eBay guide that I created in 2006.  The guides are now orphaned pages that can only be found through an Internet search.  eBay plans to delete the guides in April 2018.

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The Penny Parker Mystery Stories is a series of books published by the Cupples and Leon company.  The series was written by Mildred A. Wirt Benson, who is best remembered as the author of the early Nancy Drew books.  

List of titles:

  1. Tale of the Witch Doll, 1939
  2. The Vanishing Houseboat, 1939
  3. Danger at the Drawbridge, 1940
  4. Behind the Green Door, 1940
  5. Clue of the Silken Ladder, 1941
  6. The Secret Pact, 1941
  7. The Clock Strikes Thirteen, 1942
  8. The Wishing Well, 1942
  9. Ghost Beyond the Gate, 1943
10. Saboteurs on the River, 1943
11. Hoofbeats on the Turnpike, 1944
12. Voice from the Cave, 1944
13. Guilt of the Brass Thieves, 1945
14. Signal in the Dark, 1946
15. Whispering Walls, 1946
16. Swamp Island, 1947
17. The Cry at Midnight, 1947

Determining the year of printing by using the dust jacket list:

As with other series of books, the easiest way to determine the age of a book is to find a list of titles on the dust jacket.  The Penny Parker dust jackets each have a list of titles on the front flap.  The last title present on the list determines the year of printing for the book.  For instance, if the last title listed on the front flap is The Secret Pact, then the book was printed in 1941, which is the year of publication for The Secret Pact.  Or, if the last title listed on the front flap is Whispering Walls, then the book was printed in 1946, which is the year of publication for Whispering Walls.

It is important to never use the copyright page to determine the age of a book.  Cupples and Leon operated much like Grosset and Dunlap in that the copyright page was never updated.  The Penny Parker books each have a list of titles present on the copyright page, but this list represents the list of titles that were in print at the time of the first printing of that book.  All subsequent printings of that book have the identical copyright page list; it is the list of titles on the front flap of the dust jacket that was changed rather than the copyright page list.  

Determining the year of printing when the dust jacket is missing:

Unfortunately, it is impossible to narrow down the year of printing beyond a range of years whenever the dust jacket is missing.  The only list of titles inside the book is the list on the copyright page, and as stated above, the copyright page list is useless.  However, it is possible to make certain observations about a book in order to determine the approximate age of a book that is missing its dust jacket.

The earlier books are around 1 1/4 inches thick with good quality paper and glossy frontispiece illustrations.  The later books are around 1 inch thick, have poor quality paper that has deeply yellowed or turned brown, and have plain paper frontispiece illustrations.  In between the earlier and later books are books that slightly under 1 inch thick with good quality paper and glossy frontispiece illustrations.

The color of the binding is not a very good indicator of the age of the book since there are many exceptions.  Generally, the earlier books are red and the later books are blue, but there are scattered volumes that have yellow, pink, or green bindings.

The dust jackets for each volume all have the same cover art, except that the colors used were changed for various printings.  There is no clear pattern to how the colors were changed.  Some volumes have few variations while other volumes have many variations.     

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