The tale of how I completed my Five Find-Outers collection


Something fantastic happened to me tonight.

I have finally acquired ordered a copy of The Mystery of Banshee Towers – the final Five Find-Outers book. I’ve been buying original hardbacks for nearly ten years – I started by filling in the gaps in my Famous Five series (I did have all the books, but some were paperbacks of varying quality)  and then branched out into other series like Malory Towers and the Adventure Series. I only had one hardback Find-Outers book to start my collection – The Mystery of the Hidden House which at some point belonged to my aunt Elizabeth and then my mum as both their names are written in the front. As I had fourteen more books to buy, it did take me a few years to find them at affordable prices.

Banshee Towers, however, has alluded me all this time. It’s often referred to as “the weakest book” in the series, everyone’s least favourite, and yet it’s also the rarest title. As far as I can tell, it’s never been reprinted in hardback, unlike all the others which have varying numbers of impressions. Maybe it’s because just five years after the first edition Armada published their paperback version of the book, I don’t know.

My slightly tatty and as yet incomplete collection of Find-Outers books.

Either way, there’s not many Methuen hardbacks around, and the ones that do appear for sale tend to be above my admittedly somewhat meagre budget. I usually don’t pay more than £5-10 for my Enid Blyton books. There are a few exceptions, but on the whole I go for bargains. I don’t expect first editions for this (though I have quite a few) or dustjackets (of which I have a handful) just reasonably sound original hardbacks.

It’s said Blyton wrote something like 700 books, and even allowing for a lot of them being collections of already printed works, there’s a good few hundred unique titles. If I want to own as many of them as I can find, even at £5 a book, that’s… well… a heck of a lot of money, so I can’t go blowing 10 books worth on a single title.

When I realised I wasn’t going to get a hardback of Banshee Towers for my usual budget, I decided I would make an exception and up my limit to £20-25. I then missed the end of two auctions on eBay for books that sold within that price range (once through my own stupidity and once as I was at a relative’s hospital bedside). It seemed that it just wasn’t to be.

I still checked eBay every week (and got angrier and angrier at the million rubbish and overpriced paperbacks and the facsimile dustjacket that’s permanently listed). I also checked abebooks frequently and stared longingly at lovely copies priced at £50, £60, £100. I just couldn’t justify that much money on one book however much I wanted it

Then, tonight, I stumbled semi-accidentally onto a copy I could afford.

A member of the Enid Blyton Society Forums posted a link to a blog where someone had written about the prices of Enid Blyton first editions. On that blog was a link to a site which would search multiple websites for books – amazon, abebooks, independent sites – and then display them all in one place.

And there it was. On abebooks, where I’d looked last week and got disheartened yet again. Banshee Towers. Methuen. 1961. First Edition. £7.50.

It’s not perfect, there’s a little text loss on one page, and a missing illustration, but for £10 I’m still very, very happy.

I’m sure the rest of the Enid Blyton Society Forumites will be thrilled too, as it means they won’t have to read my many, many posts lamenting the fact that my Find-Outers collection is incomplete. In order to shut me up help me out, several members had even offered to keep an eye out for affordable copies.

So thank you Maureen who posted the blog link, as if I’d not seen the abebooks listing tonight, it may have been sold before I saw it. Also, thank you to Stef for encouraging me to just go for it and forget about slight internal damage.

Now I just have to anxiously wait for Royal Mail to  deliver my precious book. I hope I haven’t counted my chickens before they’ve hatched.

This very copy of Banshee Towers will be mine!

Apologies for the length of this post, but I really am very excited about all this.

Have any of you gone to great lengths to obtain an Enid Blyton book? What was your most difficult find?

P.S. I do recommend abebooks (www.abebooks.co.uk, http://www.abebooks.com) for Blyton books, even if some of them are way, way over-priced but that’s a blog for another day 😉

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11 Responses to The tale of how I completed my Five Find-Outers collection

  1. Pete says:

    Really pleased you found your last book.
    I bought my first Find Outers Hardback ,The Mystery Of Tally-Ho Cottage 1955 edition recently on ebay for the princely sum of 99p.

    I’m sure tracking the rest down won’t be so easy!
    Regards

    Pete

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  2. fionab1986 says:

    Sounds like you found a real bargain Pete, good luck with the rest of your collection 🙂

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  3. momo1954 says:

    Great blog Fiona!! I am really happy that you found your long awaited book!! Glad to have helped as well,I will still keep my eye out for more for you and for anyone else that needs help in searching for certain books!!
    I am chuffed also for mentioning me ( blush blush).

    I have just started searching for my close as possible First editions on the Famous Five with or without dustjackets.
    I also had lots of luck yesterday as I found on Ebay.
    “Five have a wonderful time” in VG condition for 3.99 GBP woo hoo!!

    and from Shadow ( Sue) a Forum member ….

    Five Go Adventuring Again 1958 £2
    Five Get Into Trouble 1955 50p (
    Five Have Plenty of Fun 1955 £4

    I know exactly how you feel!!! Also glad that you Pete found your book and a great bargain at that!!

    Cheers
    Maureen

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  4. Pete says:

    Yikes! It’s getting harder and more expensive,this book collecting malarkey:
    Just bought The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat by Enid Blyton Third edition 1947- but had to fork out £1.26!

    Pete

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  5. Freda says:

    Hi, Fiona –
    A lovely story about how you went about completing your Five Find-Outers collection! You’ve done really well in obtaining “The Mystery of Banshee Towers” – which appears to be very rare indeed and when it does appear on ebay, it’s outrageously expensive. Having a budget inevitably means compromise, but it also makes absolute sense. You can acquire a complete collection in a series at a relatively affordable price. I really love the ‘Methuen’ editions in this series, and find the illustrations delightful. I have been told by an Enid Blyton collector/book seller of many years that Enid Blyton so enjoyed Joseph Abbey’s illustrations, that she had one painted specially for her, which she had up on her wall at home. In fact, this is corroborated in “The Enid Blyton Dossier” by Tony Summerfield and Brian Stewart sourced from a photo submitted by Enid’s daughter, the late Gillian Baverstock. I really enjoyed reading your article.

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    • fiona says:

      Thank you for your kind comment 🙂
      I’m thrilled with my book.
      Really interesting stuff about the illustrations, I’ve got the dossier but I don’t remember that little fact. Must dig it out and reread it!

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  6. Pete says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that I now need just one hardback to complete my collection,The ‘Mystery of The Pantomime Cat’!
    I have the Find Outers complete in paperback,as they were the versions I grew up with in the 70’s but I really prefer to read them in their original guise.
    I’m currently reading The Mystery of The Missing Man and I must say it’s rather good!

    Regards

    Pete

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    • fiona says:

      Good luck with your search Pete. I’m sure you’ll find a bargain sooner or later, you seem good at that! My copy of Pantomime Cat cost £3.30 inc postage, it’s a true first without dustjacket.

      Think you can beat that? 🙂

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  7. Pete says:

    Well, I have just bought my final book.Fiona has beaten me hands down on price though.
    I paid £11 for my copy of The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat.It’s a Methuen & Co. Ltd1965 Reprint
    Hardback in good condition with original DJ and protective wrapper.
    Because its the last one I need I thought ,what the heck,I will push the boat out a bit to try and get it.
    I would have gone up to £17,so I’m fairly happy for what I have bought!

    Mmmmm,now what else do I need to buy…Circus books,or what about completing my Family type stories,or even some Farm stories I am short of…..!

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  8. I just love to read the Five FindOuters and Dog series. The best book to me is ” the Mystery of the Invisible Thief, after which the best that I found was the Mystery of the Spiteful Letters and the weakest to me is The Mystery of the Banshee Towers followed by The Mystery of the Secret Room. I have the complete series but in paperbacks. Still I enjoy reading all of them and have spent many happy hours with Fatty, Ern, Sid and Perce and ofcourse Mr. Goon, who adds the spice, so to say to the stories and without whom half the fun would be gone.

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