Collecting Childhood Nostalgia – Nancy Drew Books

Nancy Drew Book
Nancy Drew Books were part of my childhood

I was dusting my shelves in our guest bedroom the other day and came across my ever-so-small collection of Nancy Drew books. I only have 6 of them now, and only one is my own (purchased for $1.39 many years ago). Twenty years after my Mom made good on her promise of selling them in a garage sale if I did not take them home with me, I found myself almost without any of these books. So, I decided to replace at least a few of my old books.

I guess I was feeling nostalgic. Why else do we, grown adults,  collect toys and books from our childhood?  We are, in some way, attempting to recapture some of our innocence. Plus it’s just plain fun!.

I grew up reading these books voraciously. My first book was a Christmas gift and after that I couldn’t get enough of Nancy Drew books. My long – suffering Mom would chastise me for reading and vacuuming at the same time! I read while I was walking to school, I read under the bed covers and I read in my parents’ car even though that gave me motion sickness.

There’s a good web site on all things Nancy ew:

Ooh - What Mysterious letter?
Ooh – What Mysterious letter? What will Nancy do!

This is a comment from that site:
“For over 80 years, Nancy Drew has trail-blazed through generations, her enduring and forever timeless quality a huge part of her appeal. She endured through the depression era of the 1930’s and the war-torn 1940’s when many other series were discontinued and waned in popularity.


Inside the book
Check out what’s inside the book to help you determine age

Collecting books of any kind requires a bit of research. Such information will help you determine how old a book is. Of course you can read the date the book was published but an even faster way to determine age is to look at the inside leaf of the book. In this example shown here the (blue) pages showing images of Nancy from the covers of her other books indicates that this book is one of the older books. “Nancy’s Mysterious Letter” was published in 1932 and “The Secret of the Old Clock” was published in 1959, yet both have the blue overleaf.  “The Bungalow Mystery” shows a cameo drawing (not a particularly good one at that)  on the first page and it was published in 1960.

Nancy Drew books are still available, although the stories have been changed a bit to appeal to the more sophisticated tastes of young girls today. You can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $10 per book at antique sales and stores for the older ones- at least in our part of the world. They make a wonderful collection.

What kinds of things do you collect from your childhood? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave me a comment.

6 thoughts on “Collecting Childhood Nostalgia – Nancy Drew Books

  1. Oh my! what lovely memories! I used to get caught reading under the bed sheets by flashlight: Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Nurse Cherry Ames, the Lone Ranger, the Bobbsey Twins, Raggedy Anne and Andy…the Wizard of Oz series…I used to get so cranky when I would go to the library and the next number in the series was already checked out! They were very popular.
    Great stories!

  2. Hi Joanne: Just catching up on your posts. Couldn’t resist commenting on the Nancy Drew story. I loved them too when I was young. My best friend and I both collected then and we traded back and forth. Although, she always had more books than I did and it made me quite jealous!

    I laughed about your mother scolding you – that could have been me and my Mum. I would even hide in the straw mow – I would have spent my entire summer holidays holed up reading my beloved Nancy D’s. However, we were on the farm, and the strawberries needed picking, the garden weeded, or the wash done (and with a wringer washer, too – and no dryer!!!) So Mum would have none of that! But in spite of the complaints about my “addiction” there would always be a new Nancy D at birthday time or under the tree at Christmas.

    I always liked to imagine that I was Nancy. I even asked my Mum if I could dye my hair red (big NO on that of course). I think the reason she’s lasted so long is that she made young girls believe that they could do and be anything they wanted to be – she wasn’t just a character – she was a spunky, titan-haired role model for thousands of girls – girls just like you and me.

    Lorraine Franken
    Clinton, Ontario

    1. What a great story! I did some reading about the longevity of the popularity of the Nancy D. books and you hit it on the head. At a time where women were expected to simply be mothers, staying at home and being the good little housewife, these books showed young women that they could still do this yet realize their potential in other ways. Thanks for the comment.

  3. My mother gave away my Barbie dolls, however, when working at Goodwill as a Case Manager, I came across a ‘Dawn’ doll. I also have 4 packages of unopened clothes for Barbie, Ken and Dawn! My favourite books were The Bobsey Twins…Costco had a newly printed complete set one Christmas, but, I refrained. I have a small collection of old dictionaries, the oldest from 1932. It’s fun to see how many words we’ve added to our vocabulary, but sad to see how many we have lost…

    1. Thanks for the comment LindaBeth. Yes, going through old dictionaries is an education in changes in our society isn’t it? I read all of the Bobsey Twins books too, as well as all the books about the boy detectives – the Hardy Boys. I guess if we kept everything we ever owned in case it was worth something some day we would have very cluttered living spaces. As much as I love antiques I don’t really want to be a hoarder so it’s ok for some of the things to pass on to someone else who appreciates them. When I had my shop I use to tell people that I did not “sell” antiques – instead I found them a new home.

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