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!


  1. I think it has to be the true first printing of the very first Bobbsey Twins book, although I admittedly am not an expert on the Bobbsey Twins series. Check out this link:

    Bobbsey Twins Formats

    Mershon was the first publisher of the Bobbsey Twins series and according to James Keeline, the book was a "poor seller" which means that few copies exist. Notice that the seller's book does have "Mershon" on the spine. This can clearly be seen in the photo at the bottom of the description. It has to be the rare (which is the word to use in this case) Mershon edition. I have always heard that these early Bobbsey Twins books are very valuable.

    Except for the Mershon and Chatterton-Peck books, Bobbsey Twins books are generally worth very little since few people are interested in them. It is definitely worth taking a second look at Bobbsey Twins books to make sure that none of them are these early books. It would be great to find one of them!

  2. Stratemeyer and Stratemeyer Syndicate books that were handled by Mershon went through a couple imprints over a few years. The Rover Boys is a good series to illustrate this:

    1899-1904 Mershon
    1905 Stitt
    1906 Mershon (sometimes called "Mershon after Stitt")
    1907 Chatterton-Peck
    1908+ Grosset & Dunlap

    In the Rover Boys the Stitt title pages have large black boxes. There are Mershon Rover Boys with these black boxes which must be after Stitt handled them.

    The early sales of the Bobbsey twins were measured in hundreds of copies instead of thousands or millions so it is always significant when one of these shows up. Most of the really early copies sold have the Mershon imprint. Although later, a Chatterton-Peck of any of the first three Bobbsey Twins titles (if all three were actually issued such) would be even scarcer. I have not seen a Stitt Bobbsey Twins but it is reasonable to think that some were made, sold, and exist out there.

    I have a Grosset & Dunlap copy in this basic format. The cloth is a yellow color and the title page says "Chatterton-Peck". On the spine is a faint "Grosset & Dunlap" which reveals something of the timing of the sale of the book (ca1908). There are no black boxes on this title page so it appears that Bobbsey Twins books did not share this trait with the Rover Boys. Hence it would be hard to tell a 1904 Mershon from a 1906 Mershon Bobbsey Twins volume. It is early in any event.

    After Stratemeyer took this and other series away from Chatterton-Peck due to poor sales performance, he collected the printing plates, bound copies in inventory, and unbound sheets and took them to Grosset & Dunlap. G&D bound some of the unbound sheets and added their imprint. Such mixed states are seen for other C-P->G&D books. Jack North's Treasure Hunt seems more common than most.

    The Bobbsey Twins moved to a more familiar format a couple years later.

    This first Bobbsey Twins book was the only one in the series personally written by Edward Stratemeyer.

    It is quite true that people who pick up a G&D copy of one of the first three books see the name Mershon or Chatterton-Peck on the copyright message and immediately think they have found money for their next couple of car payments. However, the copyright messages didn't change and these names appear for decades. It is true early copies like this one that attract interest.


  3. Thanks Jennifer and James (so honored that you both participate in my blog!). Your insights are so appreciated! Hard yo believe that a series with such longevity had such a rough start!

  4. I always feel bad for the Bobbseys because not many seem to collect them. I adored the revised texts as a child but over the years they seem to have been adapted for younger and younger readers.

  5. I have a Mershon Bobbsey Twins from 1904. I was just told by a local rare book seller that it's worth very little and He's not interested. I was going to give it to my 7 year old granddaughter, but after reading your post, am having second thoughts. It looks just like the picture, except it's lost more color on the binding. any suggestions?

  6. Jean - do you really have a Mershon 1904 version? I've been collecting BTs since I was 7 - 52 years. My first two belonged to my mom. If you would ever consider selling it, I'd like to hear from you. I promise this is for my own personal use - not for profit. Lucky you!

    1. I have "The Bobbsey Twins" or "Merry Days Indoor and Out," It says Grossett and Dunlap but in the 3rd page it says copyright 1904. Are you interested and what would you pay?

  7. As I read through some of your blog pages, it's easy to see you are a very serious collector of Children's series books. I don't know if you'll see this, as it seams there has not been a post for awhile. But I say no other way to contact you. I help manage a website (www.MisterFindIT.com) that specializes in helping collectors find those items they collect. We recently had an elderly woman looking for buyers of the following books: Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, and Little Big Books. As at the time, we had no buyers with ads posted, it was my job to search the net to find collectors like yourself. If you had an ad posted at the time this woman visited our site, you could have been offered some real gems. We only host collectors ads, you and seller deal directly. If you see this, I'd love to invite you over. www.MisterFindIT.com

  8. I came across this blog today as I am looking to sell my series of Bobbsey Twin Books. I have 23 books starting from 1915 through 1928. All are in good to fair condition. They were my mothers and she will be turning 90 this year. I also have a series of Zane Grey books published in 1917 and up. If anyone is interested, you can contact me a sdefelix@carolina.rr.com.

  9. I have #11 Bobbsey Twins " Mystery on the,Deep Blue Sea" I want to sell. Whats it worth? Good cobditiob, some light ink scribbles on innner page

  10. I have around 10 Bobbsey Twin books that are 1904 edition by Mershon. They have been in a shed for years so they smell really musty. Would these be worth anything?