Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mildred Wirt Benson Auction in Toledo, OH - Nancy Drew Memorabilia

On Sunday, December 8, 2013, an auction was held at Montrie Auctions to dispose of the estate of Margaret J. Wirt, known to many as Peggy Wirt. She was the daughter of the first "Carolyn Keene" a.k.a Mildred "Millie" Wirt Benson. Peggy passed away this past year, and items from the estate included many things from Millie.

Several members of my Nancy Drew Sleuths group joined me in Toledo for the auction. I was there also doing research on my book about Millie Benson which I have been researching for many years now. 

My goal in attending the auction was not to just add something to my extensive collection, but to preserve many of these items that I felt should be somewhere more important, to be archived and available to scholars and writers like myself. They are important to the history of this genre. There were scrapbooks, letters, photographs, flying memorabilia, many of her great awards, old furniture and household items. Her desk that she used at least as far back as the 1940s and possibly earlier, was auctioned too.

There were several typewriters including a vintage portable one. These were not the typewriters that she wrote her Nancy Drew books on (23 of the first 30 Nancy Drews) or other books that she wrote. One of these typewriters resides in a private collection and the other went to the Smithsonian Institution. But they were certainly typewriters that she and possibly her husbands would have used.

Our group had given Millie a Scrapbook a few months before she passed away that members had sent in cards and letters thanking her for writing the books they loved so dearly. I put it together and mailed it off to Millie. They also had our "Honorary Sleuth" award which we had given her. Thanks to fellow members and some donations, I was able to get back our scrapbook and the award, which were really, personal to our group and to Millie and should reside in our group archives until these items go somewhere permanent to be archived in the future. We even made our own paddles for the auction.

If you were someone who bid on and won an item in the auction, arrangements should be made at some point down the road, to have these items donated to an institution where they can be properly preserved for history. Two such places include the University of Iowa Women's Archives, Millie's Alma Mater, where her archives reside. Another is the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and their Blade Rare Books Room which has every book that Millie wrote and an original Russell H. Tandy painting for a Nancy Drew book that Millie ghosted, The Secret at Shadow Ranch. If you'd like more info on these places, feel free to check out the links in this Blog or contact me. E-mail:

Here are some images from the auction - the first three photos are credited to Jetta Fraser/The Toledo Blade.



SimsUcensored said...

I'm so sorry to have stumbled upon this. I've been trying to locate Ms. Wirt to not only thank her for her mother's books but in great hopes of learning more about my name. I was named after a character in The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk and have spent my life trying to found out where Mrs. Benson may have gotten it. I had no idea that Ms. Wirt, had also passed.

Jennifer Fisher said...

Which character were you named after? It's unlikely to know if she picked the character name or the Stratemeyer Syndicate which created the outlines and edited--the original outlines aren't available in the public record. They may exist in private hands, but aren't at the New York Public Library.

SimsUcensored said...

I was named after Nestrelda Darlington. I knew it was a long shot but I'd had some hope. I'm happy to have discovered your blog, though :)

Jennifer Fisher said...

How fun :) I wonder how many others out there have been named after characters in Nancy Drew books? That's sweet. Hope you enjoy the blog :)