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Polly Bolian Cameo Edition Formats 101

The Cameo editions were published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1959 and 1960 and for a year or two after 1960 they kept printing those volumes from both sets. The 1959 set was in print longer so you will find more of these books surfacing than those from the 1960 set. The hardest to find volumes of all are The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase. The book club editions (BCE's), were advertised with promotional letters and ads. If you are lucky enough to come across a pristine set of books or books with their dust jackets then hold on to them! The dust jackets are often found in ratty shape, as they lacked the more protective varnish normally found on the dust jackets used for the regular Nancy Drew® hardback editions and were often discarded by children because they tore easily or were cumbersome in the course of reading the books. The books are often found somewhat soiled due to the lightness of the boards. The page edges were uncut giving them a rougher texture at the edges. The size of the Cameo books was larger than a regular Nancy Drew hardback by about an inch in height and half an inch in width. The text began on page 7 and due to the larger format of the book, you will find the pages are not the same as the regular volumes. The text versions of Old Clock and Hidden Staircase used are the revised texts.

Cameo Illustrations

Illustrator Polly Bolian was brought in to design the new artwork for the volumes and it is her striking and colorful artwork that is most often coveted by collectors. Shown at the left is the frontispiece which was also featured on the dust jacket for volume #36, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion.

Inside were 16 pages of illustrations--8 line drawings on 2 pages each. Shown at the left is the internal to volume #2, The Hidden Staircase featured on pages 174-175. These line drawings filled up two full sized pages. Since the same illustrator drew both the internals and the dust jacket art, Nancy has the same likeness just like the early regular series Nancy Drew books illustrated by Russell H. Tandy. Later editions of the regular series often featured internal illustrations that were drawn very differently than the artwork featured on the cover because of two different illustrators. This consistency in the artwork in these editions is also what makes them desirable. By clicking on the internal at left you can see Bolian's use of little dots for shading or to show a nighttime scene. Her shading technique is most vividly shown in the internal to the left where the light beam of the flashlight lacks the same dot shading.

Cameo Dust Jackets

Each dust jacket featured the same art as the frontispiece surrounded by a background of one color along with the title at the top and at the bottom 'Carolyn Keene' and the series name.

The spine of the dust jacket featured at top the volume's title, then 'Carolyn Keene' and the cameo spine symbol with its ribbon surrounding the series name and then at the bottom was 'Grosset & Dunlap.'

The back of the dust jackets featured one of the line drawings inside from the text with the title above that and below the illustration was 'Carolyn Keene' and the series name.

The front flap of the dust jacket through the back flap was a synopsis of the book and then near the bottom of the back flap was a statement about the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories:

"Nancy Drew Mystery Stories are wholesome, entertaining books that have won outstanding fame as the all-time favorites of young American girls. They are carefully plotted, well-written stories, so intriguing that they effortlessly carry the young reader along to higher achievements in vocabulary command, literary comprehension, and cultural understanding. With handsome original illustrations by the artist Polly Bolian, this newly-designed Nancy Drew series is a very attractive and worthwhile cornerstone for every young girl's library."

Cameo Boards

The boards of the books featured several different combinations of spine and front and back covers. The colors used are: grey, yellow, sea green, greyish-blue, greenish-blue in the following combinations:
  • 30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask grey covers, greenish-blue spine
  • 31, The Ringmaster's Secret yellow covers, grey spine
  • 32, The Scarlet Slipper Mytery greenish-blue covers, greyish-blue spine
  • 33, The Witch Tree Symbol sea green covers, grey spine
  • 34, The Hidden Window Mystery grey covers, yellow spine
  • 35, The Haunted Showboat greyish-blue covers, grey spine
  • 27, The Secret of the Wooden Lady grey covers, greyish-blue spine
  • 28, The Clue of the Black Keys yellow covers, grey spine
  • 29, The Mystery at the Ski Jump grey covers, sea green spine
  • 36, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion grey covers, greyish-blue spine
  • 1, The Secret of the Old Clock grey covers, sea green spine
  • 2, The Hidden Staircase grey covers, yellow spine

The cover featured the Cameo symbol on a colored ribbon with the title to the left. The spine like the dust jacket featured at top the volume's title, then 'Carolyn Keene' and the cameo spine symbol with its ribbon surrounding the series name and then at the bottom was 'Grosset & Dunlap.' The back cover was blank.

Cameo Ribbons & Endpapers

The ribbons from which the Cameo hangs vary in color: red, turquoise, green, and purple. The color of the ribbon is the same for an individual volume on the spine of the book, on the book's cover, and inside on the endpapers. The ribbon on the spines of the dust jackets however do vary and are often white due to the colored background of the dust jackets. The only volume without a ribbon on the spine of the dust jacket is Hidden Window which is shown above in the dust jackets section. The ink-topped pages at the top also correspond to the colors of the ribbon for those with turquoise and green ribbon colors.

Volumes with turquoise ribbons:

Old Clock, Velvet Mask, Hidden Window, and Black Keys

Volumes with green ribbons:

Witch Tree

Volumes with red ribbons:

Ski Jump, Scarlet Slipper, and Hidden Staircase

Volumes with purple ribbons:

Wooden Lady, Ringmaster's Secret, Haunted Showboat, and Golden Pavilion

The endpapers feature small images of items from the stories. Click on any of the thumbnails of the endpapers to the left to view the various images and see the different colors of ribbon. Tribal masks, broken locket, letter or telegram, silverware, trunk, diary with key, witch tree and witch tree symbol, and a map are on the left side of the endpapers. On the right side there is an album, a flashlight, a jewelry box, a clock, a peacock, ballet slippers, painting of a ballerina, charm bracelet with horses, torn corner of a letter, and a showboat.

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