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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org