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.