The TRIXIE BELDEN Library
“Would you like to – solve mysteries? belong to a secret club?
Ride, swim, travel, go to parties with the best friends in the world?
Then the wonderful adventures of Trixie Belden were written just for you! Don’t miss a single one. “ (From the back cover of the deluxe editions.)
While not nearly as well-known as the Nancy Drew series, the Trixie Belden mystery series probably has even more devoted and passionate readers. This tousle-haired tomboy, who would rather wear jeans than anything else, who had homework and chores to do and a younger brother to babysit, still managed to have lots of adventures – even if she sometimes got scolded for staying out too long. What other mystery series talks about who gets to take a shower first (and what girl or boy growing up in a large family back in the 1950s when most houses only had one bathroom couldn’t relate to the line-up for a bath)?
The series had an interesting genesis: In 1947, Julie Campbell Tatham was a freelance writer who also had a small literary agency. Inspired by “Junior Achievement” clubs she had already developed the idea of the Ginny Gordon books in which several high school students get involved in various fund-raising ventures. When Whitman put out a call for a new juvenile series, she sold them the Ginny Gordon series and also came up with the Trixie Belden series. All five books in the Ginny Gordon series and the first six in the Trixie Belden series were published under her maiden name, Julie Campbell. As a literary agent, Campbell was able to negotiate a contract where her rights to the characters were recognized, and paid for, even after she stopped writing the books. (Campbell also wrote several of the Vicki Barr and Cherry Ames books while Helen Wells took a break from them, as well as non-series books under her own name.)
The Belden family farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley was based on the home on Glen Road in which Campbell and her husband were living at the time. She describes Bobby, Trixie’s kid brother, as a combination of her brother and her son.
In an interview published in 1988, Campbell said: “I wanted Trixie to be different from Nancy Drew. … The first rule should be that the kids get themselves into the scrapes and get themselves out without the assistance of adults. It’s not a good book if you change that concept. They have to be well plotted and well written. I felt very strongly that they should be plausible—things that could happen to any kid at any time.”
Each reader of the Trixie books probably has a different favorite: I still remember the first three the best. And deep inside our bookhouse is a box marked in bold black letters “NOT FOR SALE!” This contains my daughter’s collection, carefully put together during her childhood: a complete set ranging from well-loved and read many times-over copies, barely hanging together, to almost mint examples of the last 4 titles in the series.
A frequently asked question is “do you need to read the series in order?” My suggestion is read the first six books in order -each one introduces new characters – but after that, it doesn’t matter that much. In the first book, there are only three main characters – Trixie, Honey and Jim. in the next books, Trixie’s brothers gain in importance, and Diana becomes part of the group of friends in the fourth book. While Trixie is 13 years old when the series starts, and turns 14 at the end of The Marshland Mystery (#10). Only the first twelve books follow a logical sequence of seasons and months, and Trixie never gets any older than 14.
When these books were first published, they were very affordable: when I was a girl I used my baby-sitting money to buy the early cellophane editions at the five and dime – for 50c each. Later on, the series was issued in trade paperback, with cover prices ranging from 95c to $1.95 (the price in 1986 when the last title in the series was issued.) My daughter bought most of her books herself, in the only example she has shown, so far, of any book-collecting interest.
However collecting all of the Trixie Belden books involves several challenges: First of all, they went out of print in 1980, returned briefly between 1984 and 1986 with 5 new titles and with some of the earlier titles reissued in a re-designed paperback cover, and then went out of print again until Random House, which had acquired Golden Books, began reissuing them in a new hardcover format. Between 2003 and 2006, Random House published the first 15 titles in hardcover, with the original interior illustrations, but new cover illustrations by Ronald Koersch, in a sturdy binding at a reasonable cover price of $6.99, but once again they have (at least temporarily )gone out of print . Number 16 and up remain relatively hard to find, with the final five titles in the series (#35-39) by far the most difficult and most expensive, since they were in print only between 1984-1986; #39 was only in print for one year.
Perhaps most significant is the difficulty of finding books in the earlier formats in acceptable condition. Not only were these books read and re-read, several of the formats were designed to be appealing and inexpensive but not necessarily durable. The glossy cellophane binding is perhaps the most fragile of them all – but for those of us who discovered the series in the 50’s, it is also the one most closely associated with the books. Finally, the entire series was never issued in one binding, so a collector has to decide where to focus attention: on first editions, on the binding used originally for each title, on just two or three bindings for the whole series, on any binding (since these are to be read!) or on a complete set with examples in every binding!
CHECKLIST of Titles, Authors and First Year of Publication
#1-6 were written by Julie Campbell Tatham under the name Julie Campbell; the remaining books were written by several different authors under the house name Kathryn Kenny. Several of the different authors have been at least tentatively identified, and they are shown below. Laura French was the author who first gave Moms a name – Helen, the name of her own mother.
1. The Secret of the Mansion (1948)
2. The Red Trailer Mystery (1950)
3. The Gatehouse Mystery (1951)
4. The Mysterious Visitor (1954)
5. The Mystery Off Glen Road (1956)
6. The Mystery in Arizona (1958)
7. The Mysterious Code (1961) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
8. The Black Jacket Mystery (1961) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
9. The Happy Valley Mystery (1962) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
10 .The Marshland Mystery (1962) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
11. The Mystery at Bob-White Cave (1963) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
12. The Mystery of the Blinking Eye (1963) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
13. The Mystery on Cobbett’s Island (1964) -Virginia Bleecher McDonnell
14. The Mystery of the Emeralds (1965) – Virginia Bleecher McDonnell
15. The Mystery on the Mississippi (1965) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
16. The Mystery of the Missing Heiress (1970) – Nicolete M. M. Stack
17. The Mystery of the Uninvited Guest (1977) – Gladys Baker Bond
18. The Mystery of the Phantom Grasshopper (1977)
19. The Secret of the Unseen Treasure (1977) – Carl H. Rathjen
20. The Mystery off Old Telegraph Road (1978) – Laura French
21. The Mystery of the Castaway Children (1978) – Gladys Baker Bond
22. The Mystery on Mead’s Mountain (1978) – Owenita H. Sanderlin
23. The Mystery of the Queen’s Necklace (1979) – Owenita H. Sanderlin
24 .The Mystery at Saratoga (1979) – Laura French
25 .The Sasquatch Mystery (1979) – Gladys Baker Bond
26. The Mystery of the Headless Horseman (1979) – Joan Chase Bowden
27 .The Mystery of the Ghostly Galleon (1979) – Joan Chase Bowden
28. The Hudson River Mystery (1979) – Kathleen Krull
29. The Mystery of the Velvet Gown (1980) – Joan Chase Bowden
30. The Mystery of the Midnight Marauder (1980) – Joan Chase Bowden
31. The Mystery at Maypenny’s (1980) – Joan Chase Bowden
32. The Mystery of the Whispering Witch (1980) – Joan Chase Bowden
33. The Mystery of the Vanishing Victim (1980) – Carl H. Rathjen
34 .The Mystery of the Missing Millionaire (1980) – Laura French
35. The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire (1984)
36. The Mystery of the Antique Doll (1984) – Laura French
37. The Pet Show Mystery (1985) -Laura French
38 .The Indian Burial Ground Mystery (1985)
39. The Mystery of the Galloping Ghost (1986) -Laura French
Also: Mystery Quiz Book #1 (1980) and Mystery Quiz Book #2 (1980)
DESCRIPTION OF THE FORMATS
Note: while different publishers are shown below, they are all imprints used by Western Publishing Company of Racine Wisconsin at varying times (except for the final release by Random House.)
Also, even while the series remained “in print” there were gaps in the actual publication of books – so the books were not continuously available.
1. WITH DUST JACKET (1948-1951 and 1959)
Only the first 3 titles were issued in dust jacket. The paper-covered boards were rather plain, the books themselves were slightly larger and thicker than later formats. The first book in the series had two different bindings in the original edition, and was the only one to be reissued in 1959 in a very different binding and dust jacket.
A. Paper covered boards with a line drawing illustration on the front, dust jackets had wraparound illustrations
Author: Julie Campbell
Illustrator: Mary Stevens
#1 Secret of the Mansion (1948), 248 pages, book #2337 – –
a. red covers with white printing
b. plain brown or dark green cover (no illustration) and orange printing
#2 Red Trailer Mystery (1950), 248 pages, book #2353 – – beige covers
#3 Gatehouse Mystery (1951), 240 pages, book #2360 – – light blue covers
B. Variant diamond pattern edition – only 1 Trixie title in this format (this format was used for several different books – the first Kathy Martin nurse book, Lassie, etc – although at $1.00 they were more expensive and slightly more ‘deluxe’ than the usual Whitman/Golden Press books) .
Publisher: Golden Press
Author: Julie Campbell
Inside Illustrator: Mary Stevens
Dust Jacket: Herbert Tauss
Book cover is red and deep pink diamond pattern, rear cover of dust jacket has pictures of the first 8 books in what is described as a new fiction series for boys and girls. Spine of dustjacket has a diamond pattern.
#1 Secret of the Mansion (1959), 248 pages, book #205, price on dustjacket $1.00
2. CELLOPHANE or GLOSSY (1954-1962)
#4-10 were first issued in this format. The dates indicate the years in which the new titles were first published. Covers had wraparound illustrations laminated with clear cellophane for a glossy effect. The first 3 titles used the same art as the dustjackets on the original editions. Several different endpaper designs were used in the following sequence: border, snapshot, and plaid; illustrations in duotone: small illustrations at the beginning of each chapter; full page pictures scattered throughout the text. This format is very prone to wear: as the covers become de-laminated, the paper underneath tears easily. Poor quality paper results in significant toning. All of the books in this series had 282 numbered pages, followed by 2 pages of advertising.
Publisher: Whitman, starting in 1954
Author: #1-6 Julie Campbell, #7-10 Kathryn Kenny
Illustrator: #1-6 Mary Stevens, #7-10 Paul Frame
#1 – book #1556
#2 – book #1561
#3 – book #1562
#4 (1954) – book #1560
#5 (1956) – book #1563
#6 (1958) – book #1565
#7 (1961) – book #1558
#8 (1961) – book #1578
#9 (1962) – book #1543
#10 (1962) – book #1533
3. CAMEO (1963-1964)
#11-13 were first issued in this format. All new cover illustrations. Each cover had a small cameo of Trixie in the upper left corner; each cameo was different. There was a matte finish to the covers and they were much sturdier than the cellophane binding, Duotone chain design endpapers. The interior illustrations and the pagination remained the same, but new book numbers were assigned. They were slightly thinner than the earlier cellophanes. A very attractive format, but somewhat hard to find, since they were only issued for 2 years.
Publisher: Whitman, starting in 1963
Author: #1-6 Julie Campbell, #7-13 Kathryn Kenny
Illustrator: #1-6 Mary Stevens, #7-13 Paul Frame
#1 282 pages, book #2318
#2 282 pages, book #2361
#3 282 pages, book #2362
#4 282 pages, book #2360
#5 282 pages, book #2363
#6 282 pages, book #2365
#7 282 pages, book #2354
#8 282 pages, book #2378
#9 282 pages, book #2307
#10 282 pages, book #2308
#11 (1963) 280 pages, book #2315
#12 (1963) 282 pages, book #2327
#13 (1964) 280 pages, book #2319
4. DELUXE (1965-1967)
#14-15 were first issued in this format. New front cover illustrations; each back cover had a different small color illustration and the same blurb about ‘The Trixie Belden library.” Matte finish on covers, slightly larger size, sturdy binding. The endpapers are printed on colored stock (red, blue, green) with full color cameos of Trixie and Honey centered on the left and right sides respectively. The most attractive and best-produced format.
Full color and duo-tone, full-page illustrations scattered throughout the books. There are no small illustrations as chapter headers.
Publisher: Whitman 1965-66, Golden 1966-67
Author: #1-6 Julie Campbell , #7-15 Kathryn Kenny
All covers were done by Paul Frame
#1 252 pages, book #2318 (same book number as Cameo edition), illustrator Paul Frame
#2 254 pages, book #2361 (same book number as Cameo edition), illustrator Paul Frame
#3 254 pages, book #2369 – illustrator Marvin Besunder
#4 252 pages, book #2368 – illustrator Marvin Besunder
#5 252 pages, book #2370 – illustrator Paul Frame
#6 252 pages, book #2371 – illustrator Paul Frame
#7 252 pages, book #2355 – illustrator Haris Petie
#8 252 pages, book #2364 – illustrator Paul Frame
#9 254 pages, book #2357 – illustrator Haris Petie
#10 254 pages, book #2358 – illustrator Paul Frame
#11 254 pages, book #2355 – illustrator Paul Frame
#12 252 pages, book #2359 – illustrator Paul Frame
#13 254 pages, book #2356 – illustrator Haris Petie
#14 (1965) 254 pages, book #2366 – illustrator Paul Frame
#15 (1965) 254 pages, book #2367 – illustrator Haris Petie
5. PLAIN or THIN FORMAT (1970-1971)
#16 was the only title first issued in this format. Each cover has a head and shoulders picture of Trixie in the lower left-hand corner, art has been updated, and Trixie appears as a somewhat older teenager – thinner format than the earlier hardcover editions. The type is somewhat smaller and the lines are more closely spaced than in the earlier editions (perhaps also done to appeal to slightly older readers.) A semi-glossy finish to the covers, but the binding is similar to that used in the cellophane editions, and very prone to cracking, breaking or tearing.
On some copies, the format is described on the back covers as “available now with a brand new look.” (other copies just have a very brief excerpt from the story.) Two endpaper designs. The earlier titles have a a head and shoulders picture of Trixie on the left hand side, and a slightly smaller one of Honey off-center on the right. The other endpaper design has the same picture of Trixie on the left , but Honey is now centered on the right and the other B.W.G.s (Bob-Whites of the Glen, the name of the club they formed) are in each corner surrounding the drawing of Honey. In various colors (green, orange, etc.) on a white background. No illustrations in the text.
Although all of the books in this format are “thinner” than the earlier hardcover formats, the quality of the paper (and the thickness) also varied. Some were on a thin, but smooth and better quality paper, less prone to toning; these are approximately 1.5 cm thick. Others are printed on coarser paper, very prone to yellowing with age; these copies are slightly over 2 cm thick.
Publisher: Whitman, starting in 1970
Author: #1-6 Julie Campbell, #7-16 Kathryn Kenny
Illustrator (covers and endpapers): Larry Frederick
#1 236 pages, book #1524
#2 236 pages, book #1525
#3 234 pages, book #1526
#4 236 pages, book #1532
#5 236 pages, book #1534
#6 234 pages, book #1533
#7 236 pages, book #1540
#8 236 pages, book #1541
#9 212 pages, book #1577
#10 212 pages, book #1578
#11 212 pages, book #1586
#12 212 pages, book #1587
#13 234 pages, book #1521
#14 236 pages, book #1522
#15 234 pages, book #1523
#16 (1970) 236 pages, book #1542
Trade paperback editions were also issued using the same cover illustration found on the hardcovers, but are very uncommon.
6. OVAL PAPERBACKS (1977-1980)
For those who read the series in the late 70’s and the 80’s this is the format most closely associated with the Trixie books. It is the most frequently found, and it has the advantage of being the format used on the most titles. Beige colored background and illustration within an oval on the front cover. All covers by Jack Wacker; no interior illustrations. All were published under the Golden Book imprint.
#17-34 were first issued in this format
#1 236 pages, book #21524
#2 236 pages, book #21525
#3 234 pages, book #21526
#4 236 pages, book #21532
#5 236 pages, book #21534
#6 234 pages, book #21533
#7 236 pages, book #21540
#8 236 pages, book #21541
#9 212 pages, book #21577
#10 212 pages, book #21578
#11 212 pages, book #21586
#12 212 pages, book #21587
#13 234 pages, book #21521
#14 236 pages, book #21522
#15 234 pages, book #21523
#16 236 pages, book #21542
#17 (1977) 212 pages, book #21588
#18 (1977) 210 pages, book #21589
#19 (1977) 210 pages, book #21590
#20 (1978) 212 pages, book #21591
#21 (1978) 213 pages, book #21592
#22 (1978) 210 pages, book #21593
#23 (1979) 212 pages, book #21594
#24 (1979) 210 pages, book #21595
#25 (1979) 211 pages, book #21596
#26 (1979) 213 pages, book #21597
#27 (1979) 211 pages, book #21598
#28 (1979) 210 pages, book #21599
#29 (1980) 213 pages, book #21550
#30 (1980) 211 pages, book #21551
#31 (1980) 210 pages, book #21552
#32 (1980) 210 pages, book #21553
#33 (1980) 210 pages, book #21554
#34 (1980) 210 pages, book #21555
All these were issued as trade paperbacks, but a limited number were also published in hardcover, primarily for libraries.
Some of these titles were also issued in hardcover in the UK by Dean & Son of London, as slim volumes with the same cover illustrations.
7. SQUARE PAPERBACKS (1984-1986)
#35-39 were first issued in this format, and many (but not all) of the earlier titles were reissued with the new covers which featured a scene from the story in a square frame with an arched top, and the number in a small square box on the spine.
Publisher: Golden, starting in 1984
Covers: #7,9,15,21,23,26 Jerry Harston, #29,30,31 Ben Otero, all others Jody Lee
#35-39 only – black and white inside illustrations by Jim Spence
#1 236 pages, book #21524-5
#2 236 pages, book #21525-5
#3 234 pages, book #21526-5
#4 236 pages, book #21532-5
#5 236 pages, book #21534-5
#6 234 pages, book #21533-5
#7 236 pages, book #21540-5
#8 236 pages, book #21541-5
#9 212 pages, book #21577-5
#15 234 pages, book #21523-5
#20 212 pages, book #21591-5
#21 213 pages, book #21592-5
#23 212 pages, book #21594-5
#26 213 pages, book #21597-5
#29 213 pages, book #21550-5
#30 211 pages, book #21551-5
#32 210 pages, book #21553-5
#33 210 pages, book #21554-5
#34 210 pages, book #21555-5
#35 (1984) 190 pages, book #21556-5
#36 (1984) 188 pages, book #21557-5
#37 (1985) 189 pages, book #21560-5
#38 (1985) 189 pages, book #21561-5
#39 (1986) 189 pages, book #21562-5
Again, limited copies of these were issued in hardcover bindings for library use.
8 HARDCOVER Format (2003-2006)
#1 through #15 were reissued by Random House with updated covers by Michael Koelsch but the original art inside. Slightly larger format, in sturdy glossy covers. Cover price $6.99.
Unlike many series (notably Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Bobbsey Twins), these books were not re-written upon republication. A notice on the copyright page mentions that there have been very few changes, other than adding consistency to the spelling. In an interview, Jennifer Arena, the Random House editor responsible for bringing these back in print, explained that they “scanned in the text from the earliest editions of the books, which for the first three was the jacketed hardcover and for the next seven was the cellophane editions. However, while we were editing them, we realized there were some differences between the first editions and later ones. In The Gatehouse Mystery, for example, part of Chapter 17 was rewritten to include Trixie in a scene she hadn’t been in before. I went back and forth before I decided to go with the second edition text in this case, figuring that such a significant rewrite probably came from Julie Campbell, not an editor.”
IDENTIFYING FIRST PRINTINGS
As noted above, all of the different formats by Western Publishing had “first printings” of various titles. In addition, several titles were often issued simultaneously (this is especially true with the oval cover trade paperbacks where the list of titles will have “new” besides 2 to 6 titles. The dates on the copyright pages only refer to the actual copyright date, and not to the year of printing. However, all dates for first printings are in Arabic numerals – for example, 1970. If the date is in Roman numerals, the book is definitely not a first printing; however, not all copies with dates in Arabic numerals are firsts, so that is only one clue. Other significant factors are the endpapers (for the cellophane editions), the price on the cover (for the trade paperback editions) and the lists of previous titles. There are also differences in the positioning of the price on the cover, of the logo and book numbers on the spine, etc, but these are usually not significant in identifying first printings.
AVAILABILITY OF TRIXIE BOOKS
We offer one of the most extensive selections of Trixie Belden books available anywhere! We try to keep as many of the titles in stock as possible, in all of the different formats, and in acceptably good to fine condition. However, our actual stock will vary considerably: sometimes we are only able to purchase an isolated copy, other times we will pick up a number of different books at one time or an almost complete collection. Many of the titles in stock can be found here, but we usually have more titles than are listed.
If you are interested in completing your collection, let us know which ones you are looking for, and we will give you advance notice when new books come in.
If you are ordering several titles, we combine shipping to keep costs as low as possible, and we give discounts to our regular customers or on large multiple book orders. We also offer free gift wrapping, on request.
We are interested in buying these books in very good condition, especially copies in dust jacket and the later titles in the series, as well as promotional items like paper dolls, the t-shirt, gift sets, etc.
copyright 2002-2016 by Christine M. Volk
Note: Trixie Belden® is a registered trademark of Western Publishing Co (Golden Books/Random House)