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Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 25,000
RUSSELL H. TANDY. "The Secret in the Old Attic." Original cover illustration for the book of the same name by Carolyn Keene, published as "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #21" (New York: Grosset & Dunlap 1944). Watercolor, pencil, ink, and gouache on Whatman drawing board. 578x457 mm; 22 3/4x16 inches. Signed in lower right image. Matte attached to perimeters of recto. Verso has release stamp of September 22, 1955 and with publisher's labels reading "Blue print and Hold / 9am." Provenance: Collection of the Tandy family.
This cover features all the visual hallmarks of a classic Nancy Drew mystery novel including a dusty attic, an old chest holding a number of curious artifacts, sheet music spilling out across the floor, and an ominous skeleton peering out at Nancy from behind a closet door as she sifts through the evidence by candlelight. Another "secret" hidden in this cover is the personal family anecdote that the three pieces of sheet music, titled "The Song of My Love," "March," and "In the Eve" were all musical compositions that Tandy created in his early career as both a cornet player and occasional composer for the great conductor John Philip Sousa and The Goldman Band. In a nod to that history, the plot of the novel centers around stolen music created by a deceased soldier named Philip March that Nancy must sleuth out. The image shows her at the moment she discovers hidden musical manuscripts that will help solve the mystery.
Russell's classic and sophisticated portrayal of Nancy helped make the famous series so successful. He illustrated a total of 26 Nancy Drew books from 1930 to 1949. In addition to his literary illustrations, Tandy worked for department stores as a fashion illustrator. He also drew some of the illustrations for Butterick Patterns and designed the original logo for Jantzen swimwear. In his social life, he counted Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dalí, John L. Sullivan, and Norman Rockwell among his friends.
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