Thursday, July 15, 2021

Nancy Drew Lilac Inn 1940s Style Library Binding

In October, I wrote about an auction for a copy of Nancy Drew #2 The Hidden Staircase in the 1940s Style Library Binding.  The auction ended in what was at that time likely the highest price ever paid for a Nancy Drew library edition.  

The question is whether the book is worth the final price of $234.50 plus $3.45 shipping (with sales tax possibly added to the total).  Rare items are always worth whatever someone is willing to pay.  So yes, paying over $200 is worth it. 

A rule of thumb used many years ago was that the actual value of an item auctioned on eBay is what the third highest bidder was willing to pay.  The third highest bidder for this book was willing to pay $77.00.  I feel like $75 to $100 is probably a fair price to put on these books if using the fixed-price format, so $77.00 is in line with that.

However, I do not feel that the winning bidder paid too much.  When two people want a book badly, they will have to compete for it.  That's what happened here.  If I had needed the book, I would have had to have joined the fray as well.  With the competitive bidding now occurring on Nancy Drew library editions, I would have had to have to outbid anyone else who wanted the book.  That's just how it is.  Sometimes the winning bidder has to pay a large amount in order to acquire the book.

A copy of Nancy Drew #4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn in the 1940s Style Library Binding came up for auction in June on eBay.  This time, I had to join the fray, since I didn't have that title.  The winning bid was what must now the highest price ever paid for a Nancy Drew library edition.

Yes, I did win the auction. 

Here is a screen capture of the top part of the bidding list with the three highest bidders' highest bid amounts marked.  

To determine possible value, we should go by the amount bid by the third highest bidder.  For this auction, that amount was $175.  In my last post, I suggested that the 1940s Style Library Binding books are worth $75 to $100 each based on the auction from October.  Looking at this auction and using the third highest bid, the value for these books should be raised to $175 to $200.

Now that we know that this book exists, here is my updated list of known copies.

 #1 one (mine) 
 #2 three (mine and two others)
 #3 one (mine)
 #4 one (mine)
 #5 two (mine and one that I sold years ago)
 #6 one (mine)
 #7 one (mine)
 #8 one (mine)
 #9 one (owned by someone else)
#10 two (both owned by someone else)
#11 one (mine)
#13 one (owned by someone else)
#15 two (one that sold on eBay and another owned by someone else)
#16 two (both owned by someone else)

These books are rare.  They are more rare than any first printing Nancy Drew book in dust jacket.  I have been looking for these books for close to 20 years, and look at how few have surfaced.  

As I mentioned, I was the winning bidder.  With priority mail shipping (at my request) and sales tax, my total cost was $565.21.  I did not pay too much.  Even though I'm placing the value at $175 to $200, the book is really worth whatever someone is willing to pay.  To me, the book is worth $565.21.  

I thought it would be interesting to reveal the prices I have paid for the books I have in this particular binding and when I purchased each book.  The books are listed in the order I acquired them.

 #6    $19.35    3/10/2004
 #5      $6.53    7/15/2005
 #3      $6.00  11/21/2005
#11     $6.00  11/21/2005
 #7    $50.00         7/2009
 #8      $8.00    1/13/2012
 #1    $13.38      2/7/2012
 #2    $23.95      9/3/2015
 #4  $565.21    6/26/2021

The books don't come up for sale very often.  Leaving out the $50.00 price, the books cost around $20 or under until the two recent auctions.  The $50.00 cost of #7 was that high because that was the price that the seller set.  I gladly paid it.  I had learned my lesson in around 2005 when I lost an auction for #15.  I only bid around $30 or so, which at that time seemed like too much.  I should have bid so much higher.  It's been over 15 years, and I haven't seen another #15 come up for sale.

What you see with the low prices was typical for what I paid for Nancy Drew library bindings in the early 2000s.  I often purchased large bulk lots where the books ended up costing me $2 to $4 each.  In some cases I had to purchase books individually, and that usually raised the price to $10 or so each.

The Nancy Drew library editions did not begin coming into vogue until during recent years.  Late last year I wrote about "The Surprising Rise of the Nancy Drew Library Edition."  I won't quote any of that post, but I do want to quote what I stated in a private message to another collector right after the Lilac Inn auction closed.

It's been astonishing to me to see the rapid increase in interest in the Nancy Drew library editions in just the last few years.  I don't mind being forced to pay a lot for one because it means that someone else finally values them as much as I do.  It took long enough!  For 15 years, I was just about the only one and was able to purchase most everything that came up for sale.

I spent 15 years spreading the word with the response, "They look neat, but I only want them if they weren't used in a library."  When people discussed the library binding auction from last year that went for over $200, one person made a remark about how it is best not be be vocal about what one is seeking.  I follow that rule as well, but I don't regret spreading the word about library bindings.  It's no fun collecting something when absolutely no one else cares at all.  I'm glad that some other people care, even though I now have some serious competition.  

It's really wasn't any fun being just about the only person who liked the library editions.  I am so thrilled that others now love these books.  I truly do not mind having a pay a high amount for a book that is now coveted by multiple collectors.  I'd rather have this be the case than still be the only one who has any regard for library editions.

In another private message, a remark was made to me about how amazing it is that the Lilac Inn binding is the first one known to exist.  This was my response.

It really is!  There are people out there who will think the price too high, but we are talking about a book that is actually more scarce than the Old Clock 1930A-1 dust jacket.  The value is lower, but only because most collectors still won't touch the library bindings.

I also exchanged messages with the second-highest bidder.  I wrote this about the scarcity and possible future availability.

I was uncertain for many years whether I ever had even a chance of owning the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket.  But as the years passed, a few more finally showed up, and I was able to get one.  These [1940s Style Library Binding] books would have been discarded from libraries a few decades ago at the latest, so there very well could be some that were purchased by patrons that have been in their homes all this time.  Maybe some more of them will surface soon.

Here are pictures of Lilac Inn.

The inside isn't great, but that does not matter at all to me.  I collect the bindings.  Library bindings come from libraries, so the insides of the books tend not to be that nice due to heavy usage by young people, some of whom choose to blot their lipstick inside the books.  

On a recent post on Facebook, I made the following comment.

To me, library editions come from libraries, so they ought to have library markings. That's just how they are. When I can upgrade a library edition and get a binding with lighter wear, I certainly do so. I have never been worried in the slightest about what kind of markings are on the inside.

I actually hate it that so many librarians remove the pockets and assorted markings when the books are discarded. I prefer that the information remains intact, because that tells me the history of the book, often including when it was rebound.

On my page about the 1940s Style Library Binding, I state that the books were bound as early as 1950 and as late as 1953.  Since Lilac Inn has an interior list that goes to Golden Pavilion, we now know that this binding went as late as 1959.  

Here are pictures of all of my books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jennifer for sharing all this information about the 1940 library styles. How very interesting! I never really thought about early library copies until reading this, but, well, of course!!! It makes perfect sense that there were early library copies dating way back. How interesting that they had their own style and weren't just the regular published styles. Thank you for sharing the photos. It's very thoughtful and wonderful of you to share all that information. Otherwise, I may never get to see one of those books in my lifetime. As a newbie's great to know what to look for in case one of those treasures surfaces somewhere in my corner of the world. Thanks so much! I love your blog and website. I'm slowly reading through all you have graciously shared through the years. Best Wishes!