Valuable Vintage Nancy Drew Books & the Clues to Finding Them

Mystery solved. These are the most valuable Nancy Drew books and what they're worth.

Published August 29, 2023
Nancy Drew books from the 1930s

Everything Perry Mason and Columbo did, Nancy Drew did quicker and in heels. With the instincts of a hard-boiled gumshoe 30 years her senior and an ever-expanding list of skills that she conveniently whipped out to help solve the case, Nancy Drew was and is a childhood literature icon. Even if you never read one of the 175 Nancy Drew books, you know exactly who she is.

There aren’t many classic characters that trickle down through the generations, but Nancy Drew is one of the lucky few. And if you got your first taste of the teenage detective from a loaned old copy, pay attention. These vintage Nancy Drew books have value far beyond padding your bookshelf.

The Most Valuable Nancy Drew Books 

Nancy Drew took her first foray into crime solving in 1930 when the inaugural book, The Secret of the Old Clock, hit the printers. With 175 books in the traditional series — and other special crossover books as well — there are an overwhelming number of copies that could be staring you down in a used bookstore.

We’d love to tell you that each book is worth a specific amount, but we’d be lying. There are so many factors that contribute to how much vintage books are worth that you can’t know with 100% accuracy whether any older copy is going to be worth a certain amount. 

However, there are a few vintage Nancy Drew books that stand out. Look for these old books the next time you hit up a used bookstore or score a few copies from your grandparents’ childhood collection.

Valuable Nancy Drew Books Approximate Value
The Secret of the Old Clock, First Edition $500-$1,000+
The Whispering Statue, Signed, First Edition ~$1,000
The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, Signed, First Edition ~$1,000

The Secret of the Old Clock, First Edition

The very first copy of the very first Nancy Drew book will always turn heads at auction, just like other first edition books such as The Hobbit do. Printed in 1930, this blue hardcover with mysterious dust jacket art ranges in value.

Nancy Drew The Secret of the Old Clock

Beat-up copies with obvious aging and no dust jacket are worth about $100, like this copy listed on eBay. Meanwhile, some copies can hit the low thousands if they have the original dust jacket and show little sign of aging.

It’s incredibly difficult to find a first printing of the first editions of this book, but later printings can still be worth a ton. For instance, this irst edition, 6th printing is listed for $1,000.

The Whispering Statue, Signed, First Edition

Having ghostwriters write for a kids' series under a penname was very common in the 30s, and Nancy Drew got this treatment. So, you won’t find anyone signing Carolyn Keene, but on rare occasions, you might find a book with an author’s signature on it. This is especially rare for authors from the 30s and 40s books because many are no longer with us.

Nancy Drew - The Whispering Statue. New York: [1937]. First edition, signed

One such signed book was a first edition of the 14th book in the series, The Whispering Statue. Add on the original dust-cover, and it’s no wonder this book sold for $937.50 at auction.

The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, Signed, First Edition

The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion is the 18th book in the Nancy Drew series, published in 1941. Given that it’s one of these pre-1959 blue hardcovers, it’s already worth a fair bit. But one specific copy that made its way through Heritage Auctions included a special treat — a signed note from the author. With a dust jacket and the signature, this book sold for an impressive $875 in 2017.

Nancy Drew - The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion. New York: [1941]. First edition, signed

Be Your Own Book Detective Using These Clues

What drew you in to Nancy’s stories was probably the crime solving (at least, if the number of True Crime podcasts are anything to go by). Flex your own detective skills by playing appraiser for any Nancy Drew books you find in the wild.

Some of the major considerations to make when buying a vintage Nancy Drew book include the following.

  • Look for dust jackets. It doesn’t even have to be a first edition or super old to be worth more with an intact dust jacket.
  • Check for foxing. Foxing describes that brownish-yellow staining that happens to pages as they get older. The more foxing, the less valuable one of these books is.
  • Skim the publication info for first editions. Although you will need a guide to make sure you’ve got a real first edition, you should see that it’s been published in New York by Grosset & Dunlap Publishers.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize — blue books. Under the original 30s and 40s dust jackets is a blue hardcover with orange embossed writing. These are worth the most collectively out of any printings in the series.
Need to Know

Farah’s Guide is the ultimate reference for vintage Nancy Drew books, and every collector lives by its wisdom.

Expand Your Bookshelf With These Other Nancy Drew Collectibles

If you’ve already amassed the 175-book collection, there’s still more Nancy Drew material out there for you to find. You could try hunting down Rudy Nappi's — the man behind many of the iconic mid-century illustrations — original cover art. One of these sold in 2009 for $3,883.75.

Or you might be more interested in Nancy Drew hitting Hollywood. She was a star of both the page and the screen, and classic movie posters for the earliest films are hard to come by. They routinely sell for $2,000-$3,000 on auction sites like Heritage Auctions because of how rare they are.

There’s a Gumshoe in You, Too

Although the world has changed so much since we hit 2000 (thank you internet), tweens and teens can still connect with classic stories like Nancy Drew. While we don’t always come out of our close calls unscathed, Nancy Drew’s books push us to never give up. And if you love the wily detective, then you shouldn’t give up on finding the most valuable vintage Nancy Drew books just yet.

Valuable Vintage Nancy Drew Books & the Clues to Finding Them