The following two lists of collecting tips are good rules of thumb to collect by:
Get A Clue - 5 Fast Facts Before You Collect:
1. Nancy Drew books have been in print from 1930 until present day, so there are a lot of formats the books have gone through over the years. Check out the
Collecting Nancy Drew-Formats section at this website to view the various formats from the dust jackets to book covers to endpapers to internal illustrations--will give you some perspective on when these were available and what books came in these formats.
2. Beware of the Copyright Red Herring. Just because the book has a 1930 copyright, doesn't mean it's a printing from 1930. Some sellers do not realize this. One way to help you figure out the general date of the book as a general rule, is to check book lists either on dust jackets or internal listings of books. Whatever Nancy Drew book is listed last, check to see when it was published. If your copy of The Secret of the Old Clock book lists to The Clue of the Velvet Mask (#30), it is likely a printing circa 1953 for example.
3. How to determine an original from a revised? Rule of thumb number one is that only the first 34 books were revised. Number two is that an original will have 25 chapters, a revised only 20.
4. Only the first 38 books came out with dust jackets, books 39 to 56 all came out as yellow spine picture covers. Of course, eventually books 1-38 were produced in the YSPC format.
5. Is it RARE?! Probably not. Beware of listings that shout from the rooftops that the book is rare. There aren't too many rarities in the Nancy Drew collecting world--most are just scarce items.
10 Nancy Drew Format Tips In A Nutshell:
#1: How to tell an original text (OT) from a revised text (RT):
1) Only the first 34 books were revised. 2) An original text of 1-34 will have 25 chapters. Revisions have 20!
#2: What does a format #1 Nancy Drew book look like?
A: These format #1 books were out beginning in 1930 through early 1932. Only the first 7 books came out in this format. The format does not have the familiar orange silhouette on the cover--just orange lettering. The endpapers are blank a.k.a creamy white in color--no orange silhouettes.
#3: How can I tell if a book is a first printing?
A: Generally, a first printing will list to itself, however this is not a fail-safe rule. Some books listed to a previous volume, and some lists were not updated for a few printings. To enhance your collecting knowledge, you should invest in a Farah's Guide--you will be able to find out what printing you have and know what to look for.
#4: Q': I want to get vintage Nancy Drew books with glossy internal illustrations, how many volumes came like this?
A: Only the first 13 books did through printings from 1930 to 1936. Because the books continued to look similar in board style after 1936 for a time and they still had a glossy frontispiece, be sure to double check with a seller to see if a book does in fact have 3 internal glossy illustrations. Many sellers don't realize they exist and miss them if they haven't gone through the book very closely. And be sure to check that the illustrations are attached properly.
#5. If you want a vintage set of all white spine Nancy Drew dust jackets, only the first 22 books came in this format.
#6. Beware of the Copyright Date Red Herring. Some sellers think that because a Nancy Drew book carries a copyright of 1930, it's a printing from 1930. Keep in mind, the copyright date did not change overtime, unless a book was revised, or some other necessary information was added to the copyright page!
#7. Beware the prices of glossy flashlight edition yellow spine picture covers. You can still purchase these in bookstores today as they're still printing them, at $6.99 ea in most retail stores, and less in lots in discount stores or wholesale/membership club stores. Bid wisely at online auctions--you can get great deals on these at eBay sometimes.
#8. Yellow spine Nancy Drew picture covers (YSPCs) were not produced until the 1960s--in the matte style--and were published in this style through the mid-80s.
#9. If you're looking for a uniform set of blue boards, the only style of blue boards that you can get for a full run of volumes of 1-38, are the blue tweed boards.
#10. There were no more blue boards with dust jackets after volume #38, the yellow spine picture cover format debuted with volume #39.
Where Can I buy Nancy Drew Books & Collectibles?
The Sleuth Shop
Book Search of Databases: AddAll
Amazon - Used Book Sellers
Links to More Online Sellers
Used book stores
Antique shops and malls
Garage, estate and tag sales
Place a "want to buy" ad in the paper
Craig's List (place a want to buy ad or search the ads for sales)