Sunday, October 02, 2011

Nancy Drew Blog Party Day 2

Collection Circa 1997

The Mystery Behind Why I Collect Nancy Drew

I wasn't a serious collector of Nancy Drew until my early 20s--back around the mid-1990s. I was definitely a fan since around age 7 and had hung onto my Nancy Drew books while selling others in garage sales. There was just something about Nancy! A bold, smart, capable heroine besting crooks and righting wrongs. Inspiring others. Giving us a love of reading. Can't beat that!

I discovered a 1930s Nancy Drew book in an antique mall and it was blue with the orange silhouette on it. I had no idea what it was, but I was definitely intrigued. I reclaimed all my Nancy Drew books from my parents house which included yellow spine hardcovers and paperbacks up to around #95. I also had some Files and Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries. I didn't have all the yellow spine hardcovers though. I'd bought some in bookstores on outings with my mom but read a lot of them at the school library. I did have one curious edition which would turn out to be a book club Twin Thriller edition with the 2 stories in one of The Bungalow Mystery and The Mystery at Lilac Inn and it had always intrigued me--I wondered if it was an antique version.

I set out to used book stores and antique malls and began buying up every Nancy Drew book I saw practically. I started going through them trying to figure out how old they were and put little post its inside them with something like "circa 1972 printing" based on the date of the last title listed on the back cover. I even got a bit crafty and made a set of shelves--seen above--using boards and cinder blocks that I painted white and then painted the Nancy Drew silhouettes on in blue and orange. These showcased my existing childhood books and some vintage ones and more yellow spine picture covers I'd been acquiring at antique stores.

Then I got a computer and got online. A friend from high school who had read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys had been online to a message board run by Applewood Books and pointed it out to me. I began to frequent it and found a whole world of Nancy Drew collectors out there chatting away and selling and trading books. I had no idea there was such a dedicated group of collectors! One such collector pointed me to eBay and I was hooked! This was 1997 and now 14 years later, I've amassed a pretty large collection thanks in part mostly to eBay. Here's some of it:

Collection Circa 2009

It was shortly after getting online and finding the message boards online and getting into eBay that I began hearing from other collectors about the history behind the series and that the original Carolyn Keene, Mildred Wirt Benson, was still alive and working as a journalist in Toledo, Ohio! It was so fascinating to learn more and I've since dedicated a lot of my time to researching and writing about this series and the people behind it. I also lamented the fact that I had missed out on a huge Nancy Drew Conference in 1993 at the University of Iowa in which around 500 people from all over the country and some from other countries attended. I had no clue it was going on at the time. I was deep in studies in college at that time.

Over the last 14 years in addition to collecting anything and everything Nancy Drew I've been able to get my hands on and afford as well as writing and researching, I set up a fan group for Nancy Drew and series book collectors, The Nancy Drew Sleuths and since 2001 we've been having annual conventions each year focused on Nancy Drew. Our first one was in Toledo and we were able to meet Mildred Wirt Benson before she passed away the next year. It was such a neat experience! From meeting friends and collectors, learning about Nancy Drew, and passing along the series to today's generation, it's been a very rewarding and fun hobby that has grown into something more. I had no idea years ago when I set out to be a lawyer, that I'd go down this path instead, but I wouldn't do it any differently!

Why do you collect Nancy Drew and how did you get started? I'd love to hear more about your collections. If you want to share photos of your collection, e-mail them to me and I'll share them here at the Blog all month:



Jennifer said...

I always love reading about how other people got into collecting. There is almost always a specific event that causes a person to suddenly decide to collect his or her childhood favorites. I wrote up my story this summer in my blog. In my case, it occurred while watching an episode of Oprah which was about treasures found in people's houses, and I thought about some old books my mother had bought for me as a child. I decided to try to find more of them.

I also find interesting which books we were exposed to as children and which ones were new to us as collectors. You mentioned a Twin Thriller book and how you didn't know what it was. We are about the same age (I am one year older), yet the Twin Thriller books were very familiar to me. I did not know what they were, but I had always had a bunch of them. A good many of my books were from that set, since my mother found a bunch of them at a local closeout store after that book club ended. They were always commonplace to me.

I remember being amazed early in my collecting when I found a Lilac Inn book with a turquoise binding. It was a library binding from Bound to Stay Bound.

I hope a few other collectors will mention exactly what made them start collecting the books.

Jenn said...

Yeah, I found the Twin Thriller in a used bookstore and bought it--it seemed so different and I was totally clueless about what it was at the time. I think I was in high school when I found it.


Todd said...

As many know, my "collecting" of Nancy Drew didn't start until early 2000s, but my love for Nancy Drew truly started around 1979, when the publishers switched and the first paperback Nancy Drews were published. I had read and been given many yellow spines prior to that (and can remember turning away an un-dustjacketed book that a friend wanted to lend me because it didn't have the picture cover and only had one illustration in it - to me, that was NOT Nancy Drew!), but my true LOVE for Nancy Drew began with book 57, the Triple Hoax. The art was (for me) so much better than the picture covers (whose stick figures inside left something to be desired), and the cover designs really attracted me. The stories of those early Wanderer paperbacks were still in the same vein as the yellow-spines, so it came across as a breath of fresh air. Of courses, once I reached my mid-teens, I thought, "a guy shouldn't be reading Nancy Drew" and I gave up, sold off all my books at a yard sale, and went on with life. It wasn't until I stumbled across the Applewood reprints that my love for Nancy Drew was revived, and because of those, and some searching online, I suddenly became enthralled with all that was out there and began collecting (as well as re-enjoying) Nancy Drew.

As Jennifer said, it's also fun to read how others got started, or how they've continued through the years, and what books really stood out for them. I think for each of us, there is that one memorable moment when we suddenly realized, "THIS is Nancy Drew" and fell in love with her all over again.

Jambob said...

I loved Nancy Drew ever since I could read and go to the didn't buy books in the late 50's and early 60's when you can read them for free from a library. When I was in sixth grade though something unexpected happened. The teacher got applications to buy Nancy Drew books(yellow binders with full color graphics covers)..I was beside myself and desperately wanted one of those order forms. Overwhelmed by the number of girls rushing her desk (I held back) the teacher threw them in the air and let everyone fend for herself...(this would have probably led to a lawsuit today). I glumly realized I would not get one. But Lo! A friend of my snagged two and gave one to me! It felt like Christmas morning....Every one of those books was a present of mystery, adventure and danger and despite being a girl, I could be a part of it all. That day happened many decades ago but I still remember it vividly as I do the thrill of opening up each Nancy Drew book!

Lena Marsteller said...

I was in 7th grade when I found out about Nancy Drew.
My science teacher Mrs. Volk, lent me a Nancy Drew book to read. I was totally hooked. I buy most of my nancy drew books on Sometimes I buy it at barnes and noble.

Jen said...

I read my first Nancy Drew book in 5th grade. What hooked me was that there were "2 stories" for a lot of the books. My elementary school library had a WWII edition of #5 that was different story from the yellow spine I'd read. In high school I really started collecting, mostly as a way to acquire both versions (OT & RT). I found the sleuths about that time as well, through I've never been as involved as I would like to be. Now I'm in grad school and am going to writing my thesis on Nancy Drew.

Jenn said...

I've enjoyed hearing about your collections and how you got started! Keep those posts coming :)

@Jen--good luck on your thesis and so neat that you're writing it on Nancy Drew!

susied said...

Awesome collection! It is always interesting to see how a collection starts.

I never read Nancy Drew when I was younger, I always went for the mysteries offered by the Scholastic Book Club in school. Now, however, I have most the books - some reprints and some of the yellow backs. I've read quite a few and have recently discovered audio versions which I have on hold through my library.

Though a late bloomer, I enjoy the books and have played 10 of the computer games.

nicki richards said...

My addiction to Nancy Drew started when i borrowed Password to Larkspur lane from the library back when i was 13,its was the collins hardback edition which has a picture of the bricks falling towards Nancy as she climbs out of the well that she has been locked in.43 years later i have all 157 of the mystery series and all the files series,i also have 19 of the graphic novels and 1-7 of the applewood books,i also have a copy of the collins edition of password to larkspur lane.

Kansas Mad Man said...

Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were the first real books with chapters I remember reading. . . I later read Little House and younger level books, but I started on the mysteries that have made me love reading mystery at a very young age. I discovered there were other "versions," of the same story when I heard an oral book report of "Lilac Inn," and asked the girl why she didn't talk much about Emily or the cabin fire. . . and she said, "there is no cabin fire," and showed me the book. . . I forgot about it until two years later, when the school library put some repaired and re-bound Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys on the shelf---there were cameo editions, and they were longer than the books at the public library. And I discovered "The Secret of the Lost Tunnel," I bought at Waldenbooks was a different story! I started trying to find the out-of-print Nancys (many of the Hardys at the local library were original texts)at area libraries, and eventually started buying them. My great-aunt was an enthusiast for a while when she lived in my parents' house, but she lost interest and moved on to another hobby. . . Unfortunately, she only gave me two of the thirty some books she collected---she sold the rest! (Then she officially divorced my great-uncle and went to the UK). Anyway, her legwork gave me much information about the series. She researched it relentlessly for about three months, daily.

Nancy Lauzon said...

Wow, you have an enviable collection there. Nancy Drew inspired me to read, and eventually to write mysteries.


LuAnn Sgrecci O'Connell said...

Jenn, I enjoyed hearing how you got started and seeing something of how your collection has grown. Mine has grown quite bit since I first sent you a photo in the beginning of this year--I'll have to take another this month!

Jan said...

I've loved reading since I was able to do so. My first experience with Nancy was on one of our trips to my grandmother's when I discovered, among the hundreds of books in her house, a shelf full of my mother's Nancy Drews. They were all early ones - various years, both the white spine and wrap-around jackets. One by one, they eventually all came home with me, and I devoured them! Then I found out they were still selling Nancy Drews (now the yellow-spined picture covers), so I started saving my pennies and was able to add a few of my own.

At present, my collection is based on a love of reading Nancy Drew. So I only seem to have one copy of each. And unfortunately, since four generations have now read the older volumes (my mom, me, my daughter and my oldest granddaughter), there are some whose dust jackets have just disappeared, and those jackets still here are very frayed around the edges! Although it's fairly smooth reading through Blackwood Hall, we never did find my mom's Old Clock or Twisted Candles. So I own revised versions of both of them. It's funny to read the revised Old Clock, then follow with the originial Hidden Staircase! But I love them all. Since I don't have both versions of any one book, I try to at least read both versions.
Jan Rader