Growing up I was a huge book reader, I read anything I could get my hands on, but one of my favorite series was Nancy Drew. Her super girl sleuth style and cool friends like George the tomboy, Bess and Ned her boyfriend had me coming back for more, time and time again. I think I must have read every book written from the 1930s-60s and to this day are part of my fond memories of my childhood.

Vintage Nancy Drew Covers

So it was with delight and excitement that when I saw a collection of 1950s Nancy Drew books for sale on Ebay several years ago, I knew I had to buy them right then and there (especially since my books from my childhood were long passed on to others to enjoy).

Today’s post will show off my books, as well as supply you with a bit of history and other vintage goodies on the Super Sleuth herself…Nancy Drew.

Brief History of Nancy Drew Books:

Nancy Drew is a fictional American character in a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer (who also created the Hardy Boys Series). Stratemeyer believed that a woman’s place was in the home, but he was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls’ interest in mysteries by offering a strong female heroine.

The character first appeared in 1930 and was an immediate success. The 6,000 copies that Macy’s ordered for the 1933 Christmas season sold out within days. In 1934 Fortune Magazine featured the Syndicate in a cover story and singled Nancy Drew out for particular attention: “Nancy is the greatest phenomenon among all the fifty-centers. She is a best seller. How she crashed a Valhalla that had been rigidly restricted to the male of her species is a mystery even to her publishers.”

The character of Nancy Drew has gone through many permutations over the years. Despite revisions, “What hasn’t changed, however, are [Nancy’s] basic values, her goals, her humility, and her magical gift for having at least nine lives. For more than six decades, her essence has remained intact.”

The books are ghostwritten by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. They have sold over 80 million copies in 25 different languages (Source).

My Collection:

Early 1950s Vintage Nancy Drew Book Covers with 1940s Style Binding (1950-53)

950s-vintage-nancy-drew-books-covers

About the Binding:

The 1940s Style binding is one of the earliest types of Nancy Drew library editions.  The front covers of most books have a line drawing based on the original Russell Tandy dust jacket art from the 1930s.  The overall style matches that of the 1946 regular editions that have the solid blue cover, large blue silhouette, and the dark blue lettering. These books were bound as early as 1950 and as late as 1953. This particular library binding is unquestionably the scarcest and most difficult to acquire of the Nancy Drew library editions (Source).

Front cover of the books:

Front Cover of Nancy Drew 1950s Books

Inside cover of all the books:

inside 1950s Nancy Drew Book

Inside image.

1950s Nancy Drew inside image

Another inside image.

1950s Nancy Drew inside image

Now that you have seen my collection lets check out some other examples of early years Nancy Drew Covers (1930s-50s):

1930s

1930s-vintage-nancy-drew
Source: Series Books
1930s-nancy-drew-vintage-cover
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth

1940s

1940s-nancy-drew-book
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth
1940s-nancy-drew-vintage-cover
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth

1950s

Nancy Drew The Ringmasters Secret 1950s

nancy-drew-vintage-book-cover
Source: Series Books
haunted-showboat-nancy-drew-book
Source: Series Books

Nancy Drew in the Movies:

1938-1939 Four Nancy Drew Movies were created, starring Bonita Granville as Nancy and Frankie Thomas as Ted (not Ned! What?!).

1930s Nancy Drew Movies
Source: NY Times

And in the 1970s there was television series starring Pamela Sue Martin (also featuring the Hardy Boys). Then the last movie version was in 2007 with Emma Roberts as Nancy.  It seems from lack of onscreen exposure that Nancy is not too popular in Hollywood.

nancy-drew-emma-roberts-movie
Source: Wikipedia

The Vintage Inn Final thoughts:

Nancy Drew is an iconic fictional character that will never fade into history. She may go thru more changes on her looks and her who she is as a character (don’t we all) but in the end, she will always be the teenage girl with an eye for super sleuthing and adventure. The stories I fell in love with as a kid (and still love today).

For more reading on Nancy Drew history (and many other cool items and topics) please check out the fantastic website ‘Nancy Drew Sleuth‘.

Question time: Are you a Nancy Drew fan? Or were you a fan of other series of books? If so please share.

Liz 🙂

8 comments on “A Peak Into My Vintage Collection- Early 1950s Nancy Drew Books”

  1. The artwork is so fabulous. What a gorgeous collection. I feel like I want to frame them and hang them up. I’m racking my brain to figure out how to use them in a promo for my book.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Nancy Drew was my favourite fictional character when I was young. I read, and re-read all the books over and over. I even read the Hardy Boys. About 10 years ago there was a re-print of Hardy Boys books in the blue hardcover, from the 50’s (I think!). I bought my nephew as many as I could find in the stores. There is nothing like cracking an old school hard cover book. The smell, the sound……ahhhhh books! Loved this blog Liz, brings back great memories! And love that you own some vintage Nancy Drew.

    • yay for being a Nancy Drew fan! I read the Hardy boys as well and I also purchased the hardy boys books for my nephew (but I honestly don’t think he read them though). Old books are the best! I’m glad this post brought back good memories for you 🙂

  3. My knowledge of Nancy Drew is entirely based on references in the Baby Sitters Club books! I didn’t know that they spanned such a long period of time, or that there were multiple authors. Can you tell that when reading them or is the style pretty consistent?

    • The writing was pretty consistent and I actually never noticed anything to tip me off that there were different writers. Apparently though from my research Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer Squier wrote most of the outlines for the original Nancy Drew series until 1979. Harriet then edited most of the volumes till her death in the 80s, so that is who they were able to keep consistency.

  4. My next door neighbour when I was young had all the Nancy Drew books and I have very fond memories of borrowing one at a time from her and reading them in order. I don’t have any myself and always keep an eye out as I would love to have them. Your collection looks lovely, very nice illustrations.

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