Thursday, December 31, 2009

365 Days of Nancy Drew

I wanted to encourage anyone who hasn't signed up yet to check out the "365 Days of Nancy Drew Blog" which begins tomorrow, and will continue all year long, in honor of the 80th anniversary of the creation of Nancy Drew. Jennifer Fisher is creating and running the blog. Here's her own description:

"There will be postings every day on all kinds of topics from fun facts, trivia, quotes, insights from the history behind the series, book and character discussions, craft projects, guest Bloggers, news and scoops, 80th anniversary items, giveaways and much more! It's like your own page-a-day calendar but more in-depth and insightful."

The cost is only 12.00 to subscribe for the whole year. I think this will be a fun blog for anyone interested in series book collecting.

Click on the icon up top, and you will be directed to the information page! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Clarke's Guide to Margaret Sutton's Judy Bolton Mystery Stories

A few months ago, while writing about the various printing guides available to series book collector's, Jennifer White alerted me to the existence of a Judy Bolton guide that had been created and published by SynSine Press. I began searching for it, and several weeks ago found a copy on the Abe Books website. It was only 20.00, so I quickly picked it up. I'm very glad that I did. Unlike other guides out there the Clarke's Guide focuses on a few printings, as opposed to every printing ever done of the Judy Bolton series.
Laurie Clarke focuses on first printings of each title, first wrap dust jackets, first picture covers, first revised texts, first paperbacks, facsimiles and unusual printings. Thus the book is not as thick as Farah's Guide, or for that matter as thorough, but it helps the collector know what he or she has, and gives a good overview of the printing history of the Judy Bolton series.

There is a section that focuses on the various formats of the series, and also the different spines and their evolution over the years. This also will help the collector as he or she looks for and acquires volumes in the Judy Bolton series.
Clarke uses the same identification format that Farah uses, as well as the same abbreviations. For those familiar with that guide, it makes for an easy transition to this one. I have posted a couple of pictures of my copy, to help a person know what they can look for if they want their own copy. I'm very glad to have a copy. Thanks to Jennifer White for her letting me know about this source.
Let me add here that a certain amount of caution needs to be used when using this or any printing guide. Many people feel that proper bibliographic standards are not used in these type of guides. This is partially due to the fact that Grosset and Dunlap did not give printing histories in their various volumes. A certain amount of conjecture is used on the part of these guide authors. Looking at dust jackets and ads for other books in the various volumes help to date a particular printing, but it is probably not foolproof. For me, I am willing to use the books to date my various series books, but others are not so inclined. It is really up to the individual collector.
Laurie Clarke's volume was published in 1995. so it has been almost fifteen years since its publication. Newer printings of Judy Bolton titles may have been found since that time. There is a Washington, DC address for Miss Clarke in the book. Does anyone know if she is still there, and if she still travels in any series book circles? I'd love to get in touch with her if anyone knows where she currently resides or has an email address.
I like this guide, and have added it to my most consulted reference pieces.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter Reads: "Behind the Green Door": A Penny Parker Mystery

The Penny Parker Mystery Stories were published from 1939-1947 and written by Mildred Wirt, who of course also ghosted many of the early Nancy Drew books. There were many similarities between Penny and Nancy. Both were being raised by widowed fathers and both had a motherly housekeeper. Penny is sixteen and lives in the Midwest. She has her own car, and like Nancy, loves a good mystery. Many believe that Penny is the Nancy Drew Mildred envisioned. Her stories are more time specific; Penny refers to the "enemy", and there are references to other wartime situations as well.

Published by Cupples and Leon, Mildred seems to have more control over the development of the series than Stratemeyer's Nancy Drew. Penny certainly gave Nancy a run for her money, and seventeen volumes were published. The earlier, thicker volumes one finds in this series seem sturdier, while later volumes, printed during the war do not seem as substantial. I was fortunate to find several of these at a local used bookstore, and bought them all without knowing a lot about the series. It was one of my more fortuitous purchases, as I have never seen several all available in a store again.

Beyond the Green Door is set in a ski resort area in the middle of the winter months. There is a hotel with strange happenings going on behind a green door. Penny attempts to help a struggling lodge owner, and uncovers dangerous situations. The book is a fast read, and perfect for a cold, snowy Saturday afternoon.
I highly recommend these books. Like most series book fans, Millie Benson is one of my favorites, and I never seem to be disappointed when I read one of her books.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all...

It's 7 AM here, December 24th. I'm drinking my cup of coffee, and getting ready for the day. The winter storm moving across the country is promising rain for the Delmarva peninsula. Family will be here this evening, and we gather together tomorrow again. Busy days, and festive days.
I wanted to take a minute this morning to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I couldn't find a series book Christmas image, but this Little Golden Book was one of my favorites from childhood. I love the Disney illustrations! Perhaps you had this one as well.
Merry Christmas to each of you. May you be blessed this holiday season. May you enjoy family and friends. May you feel the love of those you are close to,
and may you find your most desired and elusive series book under the tree tomorrow. A Christmas miracle.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Connie Blair Part 2

I finished "The Riddle in Red" yesterday and really enjoyed it. Despite the fact that the tone is sometimes a little too sweet, I found the story very readable, the plot engaging, and Connie's character gaining more depth. She has developed into a round dynamic character, one who is confronting situations in life and helping to find solutions to the problems facing the other characters. I liked the way the writer created suspense, as one began to wonder if Cleo the cosmetic queen has been kidnapped, and how Connie alone figures things out.

I thought I would share pictures of my collection of Connie Blair books. As I mentioned in my last post, the only book I am missing is The Mystery of the Ruby Queens. I have my eye on one currently on Ebay, but I have seen the seller run an auction with the book at a lower Buy It Now price, so I am waiting for it to come down. Hopefully it will!
I will be keeping my eyes out for first printings in this series. I have a few, but some are later printings. My plan is to find firsts to upgrade my collection.

I especially like the artwork on the covers of this series. They are atmospheric, and speak of dark mysteries and situations. I like the ominous mood they create.

I was pretty fortunate to find all of these in dustjackets, and for the dustjackets to be in such good shape. The Clue in Blue and The Riddle in Red are in the roughest shape, and even they are acceptable.

Here is a complete list of Connie Blair mysteries:

1. The Clue in Blue, 1948
2. The Riddle in Red, 1948
3. Puzzle in Purple, 1948
4. The Secret of Black Cat Gulch, 1948
5. The Green Island Mystery, 1949
6. The Ghost Wore White, 1950
7. The Yellow Warning, 1951
8. The Gray Menace, 1953
9. The Brown Satchel Mystery, 1954
10. Peril in Pink, 1955
11. The Silver Secret, 1956
12. The Mystery of the Ruby Queens, 1958

Volumes 1-4 were reprinted in the familiar picture cover format, with a lime green spine. As I mentioned in my previous post, they were also available in paperback in the late 1960's.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Connie Blair and her Colorful Mysteries

I know that it has been a while since I posted, and my apologies. I finished my Grad class in Young Adult Literature last week, and the week leading up to the end of the semester was rather busy completing papers I had procrastinated in writing. At last I am doing some pleasure reading, and I have been enjoying catching up on some books bought this Fall that I had not read yet.
One of my purchases on Ebay was for 11 of the 12 titles in the Connie Blair series. I have so far finished the first title, The Clue in Blue, and am halfway through the second, The Riddle in Red. This series was written over a ten year period, from 1948 to 1958. It was published by Grosset and Dunlap, and as near as I can tell was not a product of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, but was a series directly developed by Grosset and Dunlap. Published under the pen name of Betsy Allen, eleven of the titles were written by Betty Cavanna. Cavanna was a published author before writing the series, and specialized in teen age romance novels. She did not write the twelfth novel, The Mystery of the Ruby Queens. The author is unknown, though there is some speculation in the series book world as to the author. My collecting buddy Jennifer over at the Series Books for Girls blog has an interesting idea of who that author may be.
The books are fairly quick reads, with the title of a color in each title. They have been criticized that they are anti-feminist, even though Connie is a career gal. The criticisms say that she uses her femininity over brains to solve problems. The books are dated, with a fifties mentality of simplicity oozing from the pages. Nonetheless, I am enjoying them. Simple and fun, and easy to read in a sitting or two.
You can find them on Ebay fairly easily, either in their original format with dust jacket, or the later paperbacks that were issued in the late sixties. Number 12 is a little elusive, and the price is higher as a result. I have held off getting this one, hoping to find a cheaper copy.
If you've never read a Connie Blair Mystery, do so.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Be careful when ordering Applewoods at Amazon!

Last week, I decided to buy a few Applewood editions of The Hardy Boys. I have a complete set of the Nancy Drews, and love the volumes and the way they display on the shelf. In addition, they are increasingly becoming more collectible, and they are a good investment. Perusing Abe Books or even Amazon, one sees Applewood Nancy's for 85.00 and up. The Hardy Boys volumes are a little more accesible, so I decided to get a set completed before they too become hard to find and fairly expensive.

I went to Amazon, and pulled up several volumes. Some were still available through Amazon direct, and some through online book dealers using the Amazon Marketplace. Click on the cover art for the Applewood edition of "The Mark on the Door" featured on Amazon.
If you look at the Marketplace dealers there seem to be many. A company called Any_Book shows that they are selling a copy for 7.07 new. I should have been suspicious, but I was on the right page, and generally Amazon is reliable.
Imagine my surprise when my copy arrived yesterday and it was just a Flashlight edition I could have bought at WalMart. I contacted the company immediately, and they apologized, saying there must have been a mix up at their factory. They said I could send the item back for a full refund, something I intend to do.
So check before you buy, and be wary of low priced items. It seems when prices are too good to be true, they often are!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10% Off Bonanzle Booth All Day November 30th!

Head to my Bonanzle booth tomorrow, November 30th, and take an additional 10% off by using the coupon code "CyberMonday". I have added some more books, including some matte Yellow Spine Nancy Drews, Three Investigators, and more Trixie Beldens. Some of these are posted in lots, and will be a nice buy! Click on the link above, and it will take you directly to my booth.
Jennifer White, of Jennifer's Series Books is also having a sale, that I know will last through tomorrow. Type in her coupon code "blackfriday" and get an additional 5% off your purchase with her. Her booth has 600 items, and you are bound to find something you've been looking for. Jennifer is my favorite on-line dealer of Series Books, and has a wonderful reputation in the collecting community.
Check both booths out, and enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Winter Reads

Now that Thanksgiving is almost here, it's time to once again revisit an old favorite story that evokes a sense of nostalgia, as well as highlight the holiday season. There are many good series book set around the holidays or Winter itself, and over the next few months, I'm hoping to spotlight a couple of them, and perhaps you will have a personal favorite you can recommend to me as well.

One of my favorite seasonal series books is The Mystery of Cabin Island. This Hardy Boys books has all the classic elements that makes series book reading and collecting so much fun. I have only read the original version, and am not familiar with the revised text.

Number 8 in the series, the story is considered to be one of the finest by Hardy Boys' fans. It was published in 1929, and has been a perennial favorite for years. The Hardy's and friends Chet and Biff sail their boat to desolate Cabin Island over their Christmas vacation, and strange happenings begin. Supplies disappear, strangers seem to be on the island, and a mystery involving a fireplace are just some of the mysterious events that the four boys encounter. It's up to Frank and Joe to unravel the mystery, while trying to enjoy their vacation. The winter season is admirably depicted by ghost writer Leslie Macfarlane. The island environment seems to come right out of MacFarlane's own experiences living in the north woods of Canada.
If you have never read this book, grab a copy off of Bonanzle or Ebay. If I have time this weekend, I may pick up my copy as well.

I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. May time with family and friends be restful and full of thanks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another High Selling Nancy Drew!

This unique collectible Nancy Drew book which has a label advertising the film "Nancy Drew: Detective just sold for a whopping 1700.00 on Ebay. These books with the wrapper included are very hard to find and date to 1938.
The book is a 1938A-12 printing and is in very good shape. The seller had a reserve price set, and up until 10 seconds before the auction closed that reserve had not been met. Things changed rather quickly! Congratulations to the seller and the buyer. It looks like a beautiful book to own. The economy may be hurting, but occasional high prices are still turning up on series books!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How are Antique Stores in Your Area?

I have spent the last two Saturdays going to a few antique stores looking for items for myself as well as for my Bonanzle booth. I figured with the holidays coming, I would not be able to spend much time on the booth. If I was going to find more stock, it seemed to me that my best bet would be some antique dealers who don't specialize in series books.
Last Saturday, I decided to venture to the little town of Cambridge, MD. It sits on the southern bank of the Choptank River, and is one of the oldest cities on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It is about a 70 minute trip, but I knew of an antique store and a used book store, both of which have proven to be good places for series books. I walked into the antique center in Cambridge, to find the workers busy trying to take care of a leaky roof. There must be about a hundred vendors in the old building, and I started looking. First, I found some matte yellow spine Nancy Drews, most from the seventies, but in good shape and inexpensively priced. I plan on grouping these into lots of two and three and pricing them to move. My surprise came when I walked into the second room.
A book dealer with a huge inventory had moved in, and as I made my way in I saw the children's books in the corner. My biggest yield of the day was made in this booth. I bought dust jacketed Nancys, 3 Rick Brants, the Kay Traceys spotlighted in my blog last week, some Judy Boltons, and more yellow spine Nancy PCs. Prices were very reasonable, and I found books for myself as well as my booth. I left there with a box full of books.
The used book store proved to have two books I purchased for myself. I picked up a copy of an old Grosset and Dunlap copy of Tom Slade in the North Woods. I was interested in this one because the hero goes to the Adirondacks to set up a Scout camp. I vacation in the Adirondacks every year, and have had an almost thirty year love affair with the region. Some winter day I will pick this one up to read. I also found a copy of The Adventure Girls at K-Bar -O. It is the more common Saalfield printing, but Jennifer has spoken of the series, and I thought I would give it a try.
On the way home, I impulsively stopped at a store on the main highway that normally has very little since many stop here going to the beach. It was here, however, that I found my second big score of the day. Sitting on a shelf in a corner sat the four jacketless thick blue Nancy Drews that I spoke of in my last blog. I was quite happy with the day's haul, and like a hunter with a nice antlered buck in the back of his pickup, I went home feeling quite proud of myself.
Yesterday I took off again for another book hunt. I had decided to try an antique center located between Baltimore and Washington, DC. I had not been there for eleven years, but inspired by my previous luck, I set off. Unfortunately, luck did not repeat itself. The antique center had changed since my last visit, and was full of silver, jewelry and Depression glass. Not a book in sight, and I left for another antique store, about an hour further away from home. I found two first printing Applewood Judy Boltons, which I did not have, and some Nancy Drew stationary and post cards. Besides that nothing! 8 hours in the car, and a refilled tank later, I returned home pretty empty handed.
I think I will spend more time on Ebay next week, and less time on the road. I think the better deals will be there, and it is a lot easier on me. I will be adding some additional Trixie Beldens and Three Investigators later this week to my Bonanzle booth. I suspect that there will be little movement over the next few weeks due to the holidays, and hope that the New Year provides more "finds" like my first weekend adventure.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thick Blues... Worth Anything?

When searching for series books, I have always operated under the thinking that a book without it's dust jacket is worth very little. Many series books that are are missing their dust jackets are very hard to determine their printing points, mainly because publishers like Grosset and Dunlap did not update their copyright pages, and often times ads for other books were not changed regularly. As a result, many collectors pass on books missing their dust jackets.

This has led me to wonder a bit about the worth of older Nancy Drew titles. Older thick blue volumes without dust jackets seem to be little easier to find these days on Ebay, and they are certainly less expensive than their jacketed counterparts. I am inclined to think that they are not very sought after by collectors, thus their prevalence on the market currently.

I understand why they are not as collectible as volumes with dust jackets, but I wonder if people are not missing the boat. Many of these volumes are still attractive and holding up well. Endpapers are bright and attractive, and the paper quality on 1930's volumes are often times still crisp and white. A few that I have found recently feel as though they have hardly been opened. I had the good fortune of finding a few of these on a recent visit to some antique stores. Examining these early volumes, they seem to be worth having in one's collection. Finding a early printing without endpapers would be even more exciting.

I'm curious what others think. Is it worth picking these older printings up, dust jacket or not? Will we see a rise in value for these volumes?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Susabella Passengers and Friends- Another Excellent Series Books Periodical!

I just received my latest copy of Susabella Passengers and Friends, another periodical available to series book enthusiasts. It is published by Garrett Lothe, a long time series book collector. The periodical is billed as "A series book magazine about all series books." That is exactly why I like it; it seems to focus on many different types of series. I have learned a great deal from this magazine, and it has made me aware of many different series. Many series on my bookshelf were first spotlighted or mentioned in Susabella Passengers.
Each issue centers around a theme. My latest issue's theme is "Escape With Me", and allows several different collectors to talk about what book or series hero or heroine they would like to be a part of. This month's issue includes mentions of Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Ken Holt, Judy Bolton, Vicki Barr, Connie Blair and Robin Kane. Many different fans of series books contribute to the magazine, and it seems to have quite a following. I very much enjoy this one.
A one year subscription consisting of 6 issues runs 20.00. Checks can be made out to Garrett K. Lothe or Susabella Passengers. All mailings should be sent to: Susabella Passengers and Friends, 80 Ocean Pines Lane, Pebble Beach, CA., 93953. You can email Garrett at . I can't say enough good things about this magazine. If you don't subscribe, you really need to.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kay Tracey added to my Bonanzle booth

I have added several volumes from the Kay Tracey series to my Bonanzle booth this evening. The Kay Tracey series was a creation of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and patterned closely after Nancy Drew. Mildred Wirt Benson, ghost writer of many of the Nancy Drew titles, wrote 11 of the 18 volumes in the series. The books were reprinted several times over the years. Originally they were published by Cupples and Leon, beginning in 1934. The series continued until 1942. It was revised in 1951 with new wrap style dust jackets and red boards. In the late 1950's, they were published again with the same cover art but taller in height. Boards were in green, aqua and blue. Pictorial covers and paperbacks were created throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and then another set of paperbacks apeeared in the 1980s.
Kay lives with her mom and her cousin Bill. She solves her mysteries with her friends, Wilma and Betty. Her cousin is a lawyer, and like Carson Drew his cases are sometimes the catalyst of the mystery. The books are fun to read, and since the majority are written by Mildred Wirt Benson, the parallels to Nancy Drew are heightened.
The copies in my booth are the 1950's printings. They are very nice, with white pages and intact dust jackets. If you have never read a Kay Tracey, you might want to check them out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should "Musty Odor" Be Included... Book descriptions on Ebay!

When I search for books on Ebay, I am very conscious of the price I'm paying for an item. I'm a teacher, and though I am fortunate to have what I have, my income basically pays my bills, with a small amount of extra for an occasional series book now and then! I can't pay large amounts of money for a book- I just don't walk in those circles. So price point is important to me. As a result, I try to look at descriptions of items sellers have on Ebay or Bonanzle, and then make a good decision regarding a purchase.
This past week, I purchased from several dealers 10 of the 12 Connie Blair books. The series was published by Grosset and Dunlap between 1948 and 1958, and is recognizable among collectors for having a color mentioned in each title. I received my first book yesterday in the mail. The Ghost Wore White was listed as a first printing which it was. The pages are indeed white as described, and the dust jacket is nice in a mylar protected cover. However, on the back inside endpapers there is a slight warping (very slight) and some white spots that appear to be mildew. The book also is emanating a strong musty odor. Looking at the book, I would assume it spent some time in a damp basement, and even if it did not get wet, dampness has begun to affect the book. I can see how a seller who does not specialize in books may not have caught the mildew spots, as they are very small, but how can you miss the odor?
It would seem to me that if a strong odor is in a book, a seller should lower the price, and let the buyer be aware of its presence. I paid 31.00 for the book, and I would have reconsidered the purchase if I had known what I know now.
Am I disappointed? A little. I still have a first, and it won't look bad. I'll have to see if there is a way to get rid of the odor. As a seller, I want to be sure that I give people a solid description of what they are buying. We all deserve this!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bobbsey Twins First Sells High!

I don't remember ever reading a Bobbsey Twins book, but they certainly are one of the longest running children's series to have ever been published. Dating back to the early twentieth century, they were part of the Stratemeyer output and apparently read by children for many decades. I probably see more Bobbsey Twins books in antique stores and flea markets than any other series, but I have never had a desire to collect any. I did see a set of several volumes this summer while on vacation that tempted me. They were from England, if I remember correctly, and were attractive. The seller wanted almost 20.00 a book, and I resisted the temptation.
An apparent first edition (as worded by the Ebay seller) sold last night at the rather impressive price of 787.00. This is far more than I have ever seen for a Bobbsey Twins book. It was published by the Mershon Company of Rahway, NY, and has a glossy frontispiece, as pictured.
I have no idea if this book is a first printing of the title. I am sure, however, that the seller is quite happy with this sale. It proves to me, once again, that people are interested in collecting juvenile series fiction, and you never know what you may find that can command a high price later.
Next time I see a stack of old Bobbseys, I'm going to take a closer look at them!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Judy Bolton books added on my Bonanzle booth

I posted 16 Judy Bolton titles to my Bonanzle booth today. I remain encouraged with Bonanzle. Visitors continue to stop by and look at my items. In addition to my Judy Bolton titles, I have white spine and wrap Nancy Drews, several Hardy Boys and some additional Nancy Drew Girl Detective titles that are firsts. I believe that as my stock grows, more buyers will stop by and find something they are looking for. With Christmas coming, the more I put in the more likely things will sell.
So what Judy Bolton titles did I add? Several dust jacketed Judys, including The Forbidden Chest, The Mysterious Half Cat, The Riddle of the Double Ring, The Name on the Bracelet, and The Living Portrait. In addition, I had some non dust jacket copies of some Judy Boltons that I have decided to post in lots of 2 and 3. These copies are later titles that may be hard to find, but can be purchased inexpensively from me to fill in holes for people collecting a complete set of the Bolton titles. Titles grouped in lots include The Clue in the Ruined Castle, The Trail of the Green Doll, and The Haunted Fountain.
I will remain committed to Bonanzle. I believe it is a great Ebay alternative, one that will continue to grow in popularity among shoppers.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2010 Nancy Drew Convention: Sleuth on Land, Sleuth at Sea

There are big plans in the works for the 2010 Nancy Drew Convention. Fans have the opportunity to spend two weeks together during the month of April to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of America's favorite teenage sleuth, Nancy Drew.
Folks can gather for 5 days on land April 6-10th in Merrit Island, Florida located outside of Orlando. Visits around the Orlando area, including book hunting and antiquing, a trip to the Kennedy Space Flight Center, and time spent on the Cocoa Beach Pier are just some of the events planned leading up to a big convention weekend. Featured speakers scheduled so far include Nancy Drew artist Rudy Nappi and Stratemeyer Syndicate editor Nancy Axelrad. In addition, various other speakers will include Todd Latoski, Laura Ruby, Dean Burcham and others.
If you have the time, stay on with the Nancy Drew Sleuths and go on a cruise to the Bahamas April 11-15th. The theme of the cruise is The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk. Rudy Nappi will continue along on the cruise, and more fun activities are planned while cruising the Bahamas.
I had been thinking that I could not attend this convention due to being a teacher and some school obligations. However, things may change, and I am rethinking this decision. Rooms are only available for the land portion until January 15th. The cruise needs to be booked soon as well. If I go, I can only do the land portion, but that would be better than nothing.
Clicking on the banner at the top of this blog will take you to a web page that gives all details for the trip. It looks like a fun way to celebrate a series book heroine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's a Ken Holt First!?

The Ken Holt series is highly regarded in the world of series book fiction. Many collectors and fans of juvenile fiction feel it is the finest written of all series books. The series was written by Samuel Epstein, under the pseudonym of Bruce Campbell. Written between 1949 and 1963, the series totals 18 books. It is passionately sought after by collectors, and continues to be discussed in it's own Yahoo group. When it comes to tightly woven, well crafted tales of mystery, one will be hard pressed to find a better series. Ken is the son of a newspaper man who ends up living with the Allen clan, publishers themselves of a small local paper. The Allen's son Sandy is Ken's closest pal, and helps Ken solve various crimes and mysteries.

The stories have a film noir feel about them. Dark and gritty, and much more realistic than the Hardy Boys or Judy Bolton, crimes are solved without relying on coincidences and happenstance. Brains are used to solve the situations, and normally there seem to be several criminals that need to be caught and brought to justice. These dirty crooks smoke and probably swear, though we are never privy to their more earthy conversations. The realistic elements found in the series is what makes it so highly regarded today.

I discovered these stories through the Internet, after starting to collect Rick Brant books. I do not remember these on the shelves of my childhood bookstores. I have only seen a few in the antique and used bookstores I frequent today. It would be interesting to know which part of the country that they sold well. Because pickings are so slim here, I don't think the Holts were widely collected here on the Delmarva peninsula.

I have managed to collect 11 books in the series, all found on the Internet. Up until yesterday, I believed all of my copies were first printings. I was mistaken. It seems, despite my guarded attempts to only buy firsts in this series, I have a couple of later printings. They are all dust jacketed, and definitely early printings, but not all firsts. Here is where I went wrong.

I'm afraid I was not as careful as I could have been when it came to paying close attention to the inside lists of books, as well as little details. My first mistake came with book ten. The Mystery of the Green Flame. The book matches all first printing points until you come to the ad on the back for the current list of Hardy Boy books available. The book lists to The Hooded Hawk Mystery, which is exactly what it should list to. The problem? First printings of this title do not include the previous HB book, The Yellow Feather Mystery. My copy lists this title. I probably have a second or third printing but definitely not a first.

My next collecting mistake comes with my copy of The Mystery of the Vanishing Magician. The dust jacket meets every printing point of a first. It is a beautiful copy, brighter then my camera caught here to the left. However it appears that this may be a mismatched dust jacket to book. It seems that someone has taken a later printing book and placed a first printing dust jacket on it. I know this because inside of the book itself, the list of titles should only list to itself. This one lists to the seventeenth title in the series.
I found one other book in my collection that I believe I bought because it was a higher number in the series. It is not a first, but it is in nice condition, and I will keep it until I find a first. So make sure you do your homework before purchasing. Know what you are purchasing, and know something about the series you are collecting. My Ken Holt titles are some of the best books in my collection. I enjoy reading these as much as I do collecting them. They are wonderful stories worth owning.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nancy Drew Collecting Question

I recently purchased three PC Nancy Drew first printings. I am attempting to buy all later PCs as firsts, and think, honestly, that now is the time to grab them up. Prices seem to be low due to the economy, and, though I doubt PCs will ever be as collectible as the older Drew formats, first printings are always more desirable regardless.

As you can see, I purchased #54 The Strange Message in the Parchment, #55 Mystery of Crocodile Island, and #56 The Thirteenth Pearl. All seem to have the proper points according to my Farah's Guide to support their printing status. They are in great shape, described well by the seller, and I am pleased with my purchase.

I am a little confused, however by the cataloging number that Grosset and Dunlap used for my #56. If you look at the next photo, here are my #54 and #55 spines:

Notice that, like all other spines, the cataloging number is a four digit number with the volume number at the end. Now check out the cataloging number for my #56:

Why does that number have a dash and an additional number? I have looked at my Farah's Guide, but see no explanation. Anyone know if this is a variant? A second printing perhaps? I don't think so, because it seems to have all the points for a 1979B-1 printing, including the mention of "The Triple Hoax", NOT in italics. Was Grosset and Dunlap getting ready to change their cataloging? If anyone knows the answer, feel free to respond.
I am very pleased with my purchase, just a tad confused!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Sleuth- A Nancy Drew Fanzine

My apologies to all for not being more committed last month to this blog. I have been extremely busy, as noted in my previous post, and have found little to no time for any series book reading, collecting or the blog. I'm hoping November will be better.
One of the things I was hoping to accomplish here on the blog is helping people find periodicals that specialize in series book collecting and certain series in particular. One of the best is The Sleuth, which spotlights and celebrates Nancy Drew.
The Sleuth is a bimonthly periodical published by the Nancy Drew Sleuths. The latest copy alone is a treasure trove of information. Todd Latoski has been examining the paperback digests and continues with his article on The Secret of Shady Glen. Two different girl series are discussed- the Kay Traceys and the Penny Parkers. In addition, individual episodes of the seventies Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries shows have been discussed.
The magazine is excellent, and I enjoy the read each and every time it comes to my doorstep.
The link above will take you directly to the back issues page, all of which I believe are still available. Here is a link to subscribe to the periodical. 38.00 gets you a year subscription. You won't regret the money spent!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Busy... Busy... Busy!

Just wanted to take a quick moment and let everyone know I am alive and well. Been very busy with working two jobs and the Master's class. I'm working this weekend at my second job,,, Hope to be able to get some postings in the next few days, including a look at some upcoming new additions to my Bonanzle booth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rick Brant Guide by James Ogden

For anyone interested in collecting the Rick Brant series, let me recommend you pick up a copy of James Ogden's Rick Brant Guide. It can be purchased from Spindrift Books ( and is available as a CD-Rom. The book is in it's second edition, and is very helpful in identifying the various printings of each of the Rick Brant titles.
I took the time to copy mine onto paper, and had it bound at a local Staples. It is a nice copy that I refer to when I am looking at a book trying to determine if I want to buy it. I have had the good fortune of finding a few first printings, and use the book to guide me finding more first printings.
Spindrift Books also sells some reprints of later titles in the Rick Brant series that are hard to find in their original formats. They feature as well copies of the Hal Goodwin penned The Feathered Cape, a book I have never read, but many consider a wonderful book from the Rick Brant creator.
If you are a Rick Brant collector, and don't have Mr. Ogden's excellent guide, I encourage you to pick one up!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Secret of the Lost Tunnel

Among my earliest series book reading picks were The Hardy Boys. Adventures with Frank and Joe led me on many thrilling journeys that included haunted houses, hidden treasure, and sneaky spies. I had several of the blue PC editions from the sixties, and many were probably original text PC's that I am sorry have disappeared over the years.
I am especially fond of the original text version of The Secret of the Lost Tunnel. The boys travel south in an effort to vindicate the good name of a Confederate Civil War general. He was accused of stealing gold from a bank, and the boys work hard to help clear up the mystery. I have only read the original text version, but upon searching the title on Google, the revised text appears to be a condensed version of the same story.
I love Civil War stories, and anything set in the South. Ghostwriter Andrew Svensen did a great job, in my opinion, fleshing out the characters and creating an interesting read. As a child, I enjoyed books that had boys investigating abandoned mines and tunnels. We had large drainage pipes in our community, and my friends and I would light candles and explore the underground maze of pipes. It was real life Tom Sawyer type adventure! We never ran across Injun Joe, thank goodness!
The Hardy Boys series continues to delight children, and the books continue to sell on Ebay and Bonanzle. I have several nice copies in my Bonanzle Booth, and of course the revised text books are available in the cheap Flashlight editions. If you don't remember this one, pick up a copy and read it! You'll enjoy the mystery.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Series Book Periodicals- Yellowback Library

There are several different periodicals that specialize in series book information. One of the oldest is the Yellowback Library. I am not sure how many years it has been published, but Gil O'Gara does a great job giving us a monthly periodical about our hobby. The banner reads, "Series Books, Dime Novels, and related literature." There is often a reprint of some kind, normally of the Dime Novel variety, and there have been several articles over the last year that feature information on such series as Rick Brant, Ken Holt, the Oz books, and other assorted series.
The periodical runs approximately 26 pages long, and includes some regular advertisers that specialize in series books. A one year subscription runs 36.00. You can send a check to Gil O'Gara, PO Box 36172, Des Moines, IA 50315. You can email Gil at .
For juvenile series book information, Yellowback Library is worth a look!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I have shared with readers here on the blog that I am taking a Young Adult Literature class which is taking a lot of reading time. I have 14 books I have to read this semester, and quite a few papers and reflections. This is keeping me from reading many series books from the past, but is introducing me to new titles, authors, and series.

One such series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians. With five books in the series I have read the first two, and I have to say that they are wonderful reads. The series centers around a young boy who discovers that he is a demigod. Demigods are illegitimate children of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes... they are all there. Like Harry Potter returning to school each Fall, Percy finds himself returning to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp close to Long Island, that serves as a safe haven for kids sired by the Gods. Adventures ensue as Percy finds himself battling evil forces that want to destroy Mount Olympus (now located hundreds of floors above the Empire State Building!) and enslave mankind.
The five book series is exciting, opens up for a reader the world of Greek mythology, and fun to read. I have managed to procure 3 first printings signed by the author, Rick Riordan, and will be hanging on to them. More people will be exposed to Percy and his friends next January. A feature length film of The Lightening Thief, is being filmed by director Chris Columbus, and the previews I've seen look like it is going to be fun.
If you haven't checked out this series yet, I urge you to do it. The books are great reads, and I believe these will be collectibles of the future!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farah's Guide... INVALUABLE!

Farah's Guide, by David Farah is a book most Nancy Drew collectors are aware of and many use. The book, now in its 12th edition, allows a collector to identify a first printing of a Nancy Drew book. The guide lists 2745 printings of Nancy Drew books published between 1930 and 1979. It is 556 pages long, and has numerous additional articles beneficial to the Nancy Drew collector.
I find the guide very useful in identifying the printings of the Nancy Drew books I own. The guide concentrates primarily on the first 56 books published in the series. It does have a short entry on the Simon and Schuster books #57-78. I would love to see someone put together and publish a guide to the paperbacks, with artwork included.
The guide gives a history of the series, as well as biographical information on the authors and illustrators. It has 135 photos of authors, illustrators, models photos of poses used for cover art, and pictures of ledger pages kept by Mildred Wirt Benson as she received payments for her work on the Nancy Drew series. Additionally, there is information on collectibles spawned by the series over the years.
Mr. Farah has been printing his guide now for twenty years, and has been a collector since 1967. This 12th edition is considered a 20th year anniversary edition, and is available in a hardcover dust jacket copy as well as a spiral bound copy. The spiral bound edition sells for $95.00, while the hardcover lists at $130.00. The hardcover has been produced to look like a 1930's Nancy Drew book, complete with orange lettering and a spine symbol. Though seemingly hefty in price, either edition of the guide is well worth the investment spent.
I have found the guide useful as I buy and sell Nancy Drew books. I often dream of having a complete collection in high quality first printings, and this guide is an excellent tool in identifying those elusive firsts. Clicking on the picture in this blog will take you directly to Mr. Farah's web page, where you will find additional information and be able to download an order form. I highly recommend Farah's Guide to my readers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cherry Ames

When I was a child, my sister had a few different series books on her shelf. One of the series, Cherry Ames, detailed the adventures of a young girl as she practiced nursing in various locales. Patricia became a nurse, and currently works at the same school that I do providing health care to the various high school students. She remembers reading the books, and like many girls of the 1950's and 1960's, a seed was planted that would eventually lead to a career.
My sister's Cherry Ames books have mostly disappeared. Only three remain, and this week I managed to pick up a few more at a local antique store. I plan to find some more titles to add eventually to my Bonanzle booth, but in the meantime I will read a few to sample a series of which I have little knowledge.
Here is what I do know: The series consists of 27 titles published between 1943 and 1968. The early books describe her entry into nursing at nursing school, then quickly move her into the Army where she serves her country during the second World War. These early books are printed on "wartime" paper, which means first printings will be brittle and brown in nature. They were printed by Grosset and Dunlap, and the early copies up to #7 are red or maroon with gray endpapers. The complete series can be collected in the pictorial cover editions with green spines. You may also find some PC's with yellow spines, but these were changed to green to differentiate the series from the yellow spine Nancy Drews, also published in the 1960's.
The series was originally authored by Helen Wells, who wrote the first eight volumes. Julie Tatham, the maiden name of Julie Campbell who penned the Trixie Belden series wrote the next eight volumes, concluding with #16. Helen Wells came back to the series and authored the rest.
The books became more mystery centered as they continued, mostly in an attempt to draw in readers of other girl detective stories like Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls. The higher numbered volumes, like The Mystery in the Doctor's Office and Ski Nurse Mystery are very hard to find and command high prices. The first twenty volumes appear to have been reprinted, which will allow some to purchase the series at a lesser price.
I will review a couple of titles in the series sometime in the future. I'm taking a course for my Masters on Young Adult literature, so my reading list is already pretty long. When I get a chance, however, I plan to dig deeper into the Cherry Ames series.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Haunted Carousel

"A newspaper reporter challenges Nancy to solve a weird mystery involving an amusement park merry go round. Why does the carousel light up in the middle of the night and begin revolving and playing music when no one's around?"

So reads the inside flap of the library discard hardcover edition of the 72nd volume of the Nancy Drew series that I currently own. The copy had the misfortune of meeting my dog's teeth when he was a puppy, and the lower portion of the spine is severely chewed. From time to time I have tried to find a replacement copy, but to date the search has proven fruitless.

Most copies of this book are paperback copies, originally published by Simon and Schuster as a Wanderer paperback. Hardback copies with dust jackets were available as well. These were mostly sold to libraries. It was published in 1983, then reprinted in 1987 and 1988 as Minstrel editions, each with different cover art. This was one of the last Nancy Drew stories to come from the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the original creator of the series. It is edited by Nancy Axelrad, a long time employee of the Syndicate, and ghostwritten by James Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence also wrote The Silver Cobweb and The Mysterious Image in addition to a few more.

The story is well written and fast paced. Ned assists Nancy on the case that takes place in Riverwood Amusement Park. In addition, a dying man's words regarding a flower riddle is also challenging Nancy's abilities to solve a mystery. Another great amusement park mystery with shades of Robert Arthur's Three Investigator story The Secret of Skeleton Island, the story fuels my own love for the "mystery set in an amusement park" genre. I will pose the same question I did a few days ago: Are there any other such series books that take place in a amusement park? I'd love to read some more!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1st Printing Bungalow Mystery Sells High on Ebay

An early copy of The Bungalow Mystery, more than likely a first printing just sold on Ebay for the high price of $3383.33. This book, listed as a first printing seemed to have the necessary characteristics for a real first printing, part of the original breeder set for the Nancy Drew series. Congratulations to both buyer and seller. Series books seem to be a nice investment, don't they? I downloaded a couple of pictures of the book sold. Along with the Bungalow Mystery, the buyer also got an early printing of The Secret of the Old Clock. Ebay number, in case you want to look further is 160360940768.

Stairway to Danger

Fall is upon us, and I know this for several reasons... I'm back teaching school, which means I am up early each morning heading off to work. I live outside of a resort town on the Maryland-Delaware shore, and the traffic has drastically reduced from the congested streets of a few weeks ago. And I also know it's Fall because one of the three local amusement parks in town has already started racking it's rides to head out on the carnival circuit for the winter.

I love amusement parks, especially the older, more traditional parks one runs across from time to time. I also love series books whose plot centers around an amusement park. There is something so atmospheric about an abandoned, or closed for the winter months amusement park. The irony of a place that generally brings so much joy being the site of mystery and intrigue is just plain fun.

One of my favorite such books is Stairway to Danger, #9 in the Rick Brant series. The Rick Brant series consists of twenty five titles that were published between 1947 and 1989. Like many Grosset and Dunlap titles, they were authored under the pen name of John Blaine. Actually, books 1-3 were co-authored by Peter Harkins and Harold Goodwin. The rest were authored solely by Goodwin. The series centers around the son of a world famous scientist and his son, Hartson and Rick Brant. They live on Spindrift Island, located off the coast of New Jersey. Rick and his buddy Scotty get involved in adventures, most of which involve science in some way or another. These adventures take him all over the world.

Stairway to Danger involves escaped criminals and an abandoned seaside amusement park. There are a lot of fun scenes in the park, including a fun climb and chase on the old roller coaster tracks. It is one of my personal favorite books in the series. I'm going to read it again, in honor of the end of the summer season. Are there other series books set in amusement parks?

Monday, September 14, 2009

John Axe's All About Collecting Series Books Guides

John Axe was an artist, doll collector and an authority on children's series books. When I first became interested in collecting, I found both of Mr. Axe's guides in a local book store. I quickly snatched them up, and I can tell you how invaluable they have been to me as I have collected various series over the last ten years.

Both guides are lavishly illustrated with color photos of book covers and dust jackets. Mr. Axe lets you see each cover for every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book published. In addition, he helps you understand the various formats available for each series and even gives author information if possible. Each series that has its own chapter gets a brief history in regards to its creation as well as insider information on the books. You even get a synopsis for the books in the major series. As a new comer, this information was incredible. I remember when I first bought a Hal Keen book. I went to Mr. Axe's Boys Series book and there it was.

Book series included in Axe's works include Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Judy Bolton, Cherry Ames, Tom Swift, Jr., Chip Hilton, Penny Parker, Kay Tracey, Ted Scott, Mark Tidd, Connie Blair, Vicki Barr, Tom Slade, Dana Girls... just about every series you can imagine!

The books are officially out of print, but you can still find both on Amazon. I put in the words "All About Collecting" and found both! If you don't have these, grab them. You'll be sorry later!

Sadly, John Axe died late last year, and the Series Book world continues to mourn his loss. This October, I believe there will be some sort of rememberance for Mr. Axe at the Couldersport, Pennsylvania Judy Bolton days. Judy Bolton was his favorite series, so it seems appropriate for these folks to honor their friend John. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet him. From all I have read about him, he was an amazing man.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Printing Guides... You Either Love 'Em or Hate 'Em!!

Series book collectors have long lamented the fact that the copyright page of a Grosset and Dunlap book has little to no information to help identify a printing of the volume they are looking at. It is often a guessing game as to what you are holding in your hands when you stumble across a title at your local antique store. In the last several years, many collectors have tried to help this process out by publishing guides to help identify a printing. These guides are often helpful, as they can help a collector determine a first printing (a prize for everyone, and highly sought after) versus a much later printing of the same title.

When you surf Ebay, you will see many books identified as first editions. They cite the copyright page as their proof, and in reality they have no idea what they are talking about. Thus, collectors are more and more relying on printing guides to help determine the age of a book in their collection. I am aware of a few guides for different series and they are the following:

1. Hardy and Hardy Investigations- Carpentieri and Mular- Hardy Boys series

2. Farah's Guide- David Farah- Nancy Drew series

3. Rick Brant Checklist- James Ogden- Rick Brant series

4. Ken Holt Mysteries Guide- Sevello, Ogden, and Towey- Ken Holt series

In addition, the late John Axe's excellent books All About Collecting Girls Series Books and All About Collecting Boys Series Books give a lot of information on the major players as well as less polular series like Ruth Fielding, Connie Blair, Ted Scott and Hal Keen. John shares a lot of great collecting information, as well a beautiful color photos of the books and ephemera assosciated with the hobby.

I use all of these guides and find them quite useful. Some are a little cumbersome mainly because there are so many printings of some titles. I find that with the Farah's Guide and Hardy and Hardy Investigstions, I have to keep reminding myself what each section of the entry I am identifying means, but they are still useful once I decipher the code!

Some collectors really hate the science of identifying the printings that some of these guide authors use. They seem to feel that it is wrong to try and identify the printing for some reason. Perhaps it is because the authors of thses guides set themselves up as experts, and the critics feel that this isn't so. Regardless, I like to try and find out how old the book is I have, and the guides are a great source to use when trying to accomplish the task.

I'll talk some more in future posts about the ones I use, but I would be interested what other guides are out there. I know they exist, and I know specifically of some others, but thought I should focus on the ones I use frequently.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bonanzle Booth

You probably have noticed that I have a booth set up on Bonanzle. In that booth, I have created a bookstore that specializes in series books. I have 58 books available for sale, and several more will be added in the next few weeks.

So why Bonanzle? I have just recently become interested in selling some books myself, and began to do some research as to what would be my best venue for selling. I had sold some items over the years on Ebay, but after doing some research, quite frankly I can not afford the fees that they want to charge. When you list an item on Ebay you pay a fee. When you sell an item, you pay an additional fee. Then you pay a fee for PayPal, and are required to use PayPal for your checkout. This is an expensive proposition for a new seller. It forces sellers to charge more for a book, and creates an inflated price for the buyer.

At Bonanzle you join for free. That's right, FREE! You pay a small price if you sell anything, and you have the option of using PayPal or accepting checks and money orders. This makes it less intimidating for a new seller. I am not paying a dime to list the books I have in my store, and if they sit for six months and don't move I am not paying for that privelege. And Bonanzle works with Google to help your items come up in their search engines. You are getting exposure, which allows for more visits to your site.

I am going to be transparent here. Thus far, I have not made a sale. But I have had over 500 hits on my site in the last four weeks. I am convinced that things will move as we enter the Fall season, and Christmas is on the horizon. And I am not worried that I am spending money with no returns. It will happen.

Jennifer of the Series Books for Girls blog is doing quite well, and if you read her recent posts, she attributes her success to inventory and repeat buyers. If you haven't checked out my store, stop by. I also encourage you to check out Jennifer's blog and her series book site. She has over 500 items for sale, and I believe you will find something you may be looking for.

I will periodically keep you posted on how things are going at the moment. I am really pleased, and think this will allow me to make some money to fuel my series book collecting interests!