Thursday, January 03, 2019

31 Days of Nancy Drew Topic #3 Nancy Drew Cover Art & Illustrators - A Brief Overview

31 Days of Nancy Drew Topic #3

Nancy Drew Cover Art & Illustrators - A Brief Overview

At my website I have a section in the books/formats area on the the cover art, so you will find this link helpful.

Referring to the classic Grosset & Dunlap Nancy Drew books - 1-56 published from 1930 to 1979 - there are 3 illustrators of the cover art - Russell H. Tandy, Bill Gillies and Rudy Nappi. Shown here are the 3 covers for Old Clock by these 3 illustrators.

Tandy illustrated the books from 1930 to 1949 - doing covers and internal illustrations for books 1-26, with the exception of the cover of Broken Locket - and James D. Keeline has a page at his website about this - it was likely artist Norman Braley who illustrated covers for other series books at the time including some Outdoor Girls covers. Many have theories, but he's the most likely candidate considering all factors involved. I have a website section about Tandy and other books he illustrated in addition to Nancy Drew as well.

Tandy's muse for the series was a model named Grace Horton and we have a nice article about her in the March/April 2014 issue of The Sleuth and an article with lots of neat pictures from Geoffrey Lapin on Tandy in the May/June 2012 issue of The Sleuth.


Bill Gillies was brought in to illustrate books 27-29 and he also redid covers to 1-9 and 11 which came out in 1950. Why not #10? Well we think he did illustrate #10, The Password to Larkspur Lane, but it was likely rejected and then used by UK publisher Sampson & Low. The reason is likely the position of Nancy's skirt and her thigh showing. Lea Fox has some good evidence on her website about this likely being a Bill Gillies cover.

Rudy Nappi was the final illustrator of the classic books and he came in beginning in 1953 with #30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask and illustrated 30-56 but he also revised art for books 1-5 and 8-34 as well. Some of these books have 2 to 3 Nappi covers overall. You can see the various covers in this classic Nancy Drew books section at my website. The website page on cover art has a chart showing you which cover is by which artist for the 56 books which is handy.

Here's a quick breakdown:

First Cover art 1-10, 12-26=Tandy
First Cover art 11=Most likely Norman Braley
2nd Cover art 1-9, 11=Gillies
2nd Cover art 10, 12-26=Nappi
1st Cover art 27-29=Gillies
2nd Cover art 27-29=Nappi
1st cover art 30-34=Nappi
2nd Cover art 30-34=Nappi
3rd Cover art 1-5, 8-24=Nappi
4th Cover art 11=Nappi
Only 1 Cover art 35-56=Nappi

What covers are currently in print today? They are all Nappi covers that Penguin still reprints - with the exception of books 6 and 7 which are Bill Gillies covers - Nappi never revised these covers.

What art comes in what format?

White spine dust jackets - 1-22=Tandy 1st art

Wrap spine dust jackets - 1-9 and 11=2nd art by Bill Gillies

Wrap spine dust jackets 23-26 = Tandy 1st art; 27-29 = Gillies 1st art; 30-34 = Nappi 1st art; 35-38 = Nappi only cover art

Yellow spine picture covers: 1-9 - 2nd cover art by Gillies. 10 - 2nd art by Nappi.  1-11 - 3rd art by Nappi. 11 - 4th art by Nappi. 12-26 - 2nd art by Nappi. 27-29 - 1st art by Gillies. 27-29 - 2nd art by Nappi. 30-34 - 1st & 2nd art by Nappi. 35-56 - Only cover art by Nappi.

Can I buy original series book art? Sure, if you can find it. Quite a few collectors do love and collect the series book art. Recently, a Russell H. Tandy cover for The Secret in the Old Attic, sold at auction for $35,000.00 which included the buyer's premium. I would love to see more Tandy art surface - The Secret of the Old Clock, The Bungalow Mystery, and The Sign of the Twisted Candles are especially known to be floating out there - so hopefully they will turn up, among others, one day.

In the comments, let me know if you have a favorite illustrator or favorite cover art? Do you judge a book by its cover? Is there a book you like the story for but don't care for the cover art?

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