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THE HARDY BOYS ONLINE: An unofficial online resource for fans of the Hardy Boys books

Front cover design (Canon)

When the Hardy Boys series began in 1927, the books were bound in a plain cloth cover, with cover art printed on the paper dust jacket. In 1962, Grosset & Dunlap dropped the dust jackets and switched to the more durable "picture cover" format, in which the cover art was printed directly on the book's cover. Aside from their physical construction, the graphic design of the covers has also changed over the years, as described on this page.

Two important notes:

  • All dates below refer to the date when the cover was originally designed, not the printing date. So, for example, a cover that was designed between 1927 and 1931 will use Format 1, even in post-1931 printings.
  • In the mid-1970s, all covers that were still in print (which encompassed formats 5 through 9) were modified by the addition of a volume number, as discussed near the end of this page.

Format 1 (1927-1931)

sample cover
Sample of Format 1

Description

  • "THE HARDY BOYS," in hand-painted italic serif lettering, is centered, with a thin line directly beneath.
  • The book's title is in hand-painted block sans-serif lettering, usually red with a black outline. Its alignment varies to fit the cover illustration.
  • The author's name is at the bottom of the cover, usually in the same style of lettering as the title.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 1 through 10, as well as on a revised 1933 version of the 1927 cover of The Tower Treasure.

Examples

Volume 1
#1, 1927
Volume 2
#2, 1927
Volume 4
#4, 1928
Volume 5
#5, 1928
Volume 7
#7, 1929
Volume 8
#8, 1929
Volume 9
#9, 1930
Volume 10
#10, 1931

Format 2 (1932-1936)

sample cover
Sample of Format 2

Description

  • "THE HARDY BOYS," in hand-painted sans-serif lettering, is centered. (Except in the 1934 cover of The Mark on the Door, in which it appears below the title, left-aligned.)
  • Various styles of hand-painted lettering were used for the title, ranging from the narrow lettering used for Footprints Under the Window to the wide, decorative lettering used for The Sinister Sign Post.
  • The author's name is at the bottom of the cover, in block sans-serif lettering.
  • Various lettering colours are used, coordinating with the cover's colour scheme.
  • Cover illustrations are in a colourful art deco style, in contrast with the more realistic style used before and after this period.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 11 through 15.

Examples

Volume 11
#11, 1932
Volume 12
#12, 1933
Volume 13
#13, 1934
Volume 1
#14, 1935
Volume 1
#15, 1936

Format 3 (1937-1945)

sample cover
Sample of Format 3

Description

  • "THE HARDY BOYS," in hand-painted script lettering, is centered. Usually in red, white, or yellow.
  • The title's lettering and alignment varies, but hand-painted block sans-serif lettering in yellow, red, or white is usually used. Function words ("of", "the", etc.) sometimes appear in smaller script.
  • The author's name is at the bottom of the cover, in various styles of hand-painted lettering. Sometimes it is broken into two lines.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 16 through 24. As well, new covers for volumes 1 through 9 were released in this format.

Examples

Volume 18
#18, 1939
Volume 19
#19, 1940
Volume 21
#21, 1942
Volume 22
#22, 1943
Volume 1
#1, 1944
Volume 2
#2, 1944
Volume 6
#6, 1944
Volume 8
#8, 1944

Format 4 (1946)

sample cover
Sample of Format 4

Description and usage

This format, which, except for the typeface, is the same as Format 5, was used only once: on a new 1946 cover for volume 10, What Happened at Midnight. The typeface used is Lydian:
Lydian typeface sample
Although this was Lydian's only appearance on a Hardy Boys cover, it was subsequently used for many Nancy Drew books of the period.

This format marked a significant change in Hardy Boys cover design: on all previous covers, the lettering was painted by hand, but from this point on, it was set in a typeface.

Example

Volume 10
#10, 1946

Format 5 (1946-1965)

sample cover
Variants of Format 5

Description

  • All elements use the same dignified serif typeface, Weiss:
    Weiss typeface sample
  • Originally, the lightest weight of Weiss was used (format 5a), but in the mid-1950s there was a gradual switch to Weiss Extra Bold (format 5b). Although the change was slight, one telltale difference between the two weights is the shape of the "W".
  • "THE HARDY BOYS" is aligned right, left, or center. It's usually red or yellow.
  • The title's alignment varies. It's usually coloured white or black, and function words are occasionally a smaller size.
  • The author's name is smaller than in other formats -- just over half the width of the cover. It's usually located on one line at the bottom of the cover. (The 1965 cover for Footprints Under the Window is an exception to this. "Franklin W. Dixon" is found on two lines, right-aligned just beneath the title. If the creators had placed the name at the bottom of the cover, it would have obscured the footprints.)

Usage

This was the longest-running cover format of the original series, and it's the oldest format that's still in print today. It was used on the original covers of volumes 25 through 44, as well as many new covers for older volumes:

  • 1950: Volumes 11 through 15
  • 1959/60: Volumes 1 through 9
  • 1962: Volumes 11, 14, and 16 through 24
  • 1964: Volume 6
  • 1965: Volume 12

By 1962, all of the older covers had been replaced by covers of this format. (Except for What Happened at Midnight, which used Format 4, above, but it's arguable that Format 4 is a special case of Format 5.)

Examples of Format 5a

Volume 25
#25, 1946
Volume 26
#26, 1947
Volume 29
#29, 1950
Volume 12
#12, 1950
Volume 14
#14, 1950
Volume 15
#15, 1950
Volume 31
#31, 1952
Volume 34
#34, 1954

Examples of Format 5b

Volume 35
#35, 1955
Volume 38
#38, 1959
Volume 1
#1, 1959
Volume 35
#8, 1960
Volume 40
#40, 1961
Volume 17
#17, 1962
Volume 44
#44, 1965
Volume 12
#12, 1965

Format 6 (1966)

sample cover
Sample of Format 6

Description

  • The structure is the same as the previous format, but the typeface has been changed to the more modern-looking Optima:
    Optima typeface sample
  • Franklin W. Dixon's name becomes even smaller.

Usage

New covers for volumes 27 and 37 were released in this format.

Examples

Volume 27
#7, 1966
Volume 37
#37, 1966

Format 7 (1966-1967)

sample cover
Sample of Format 7

Description

  • The next step in the evolution: thin horizontal lines are added above and below "THE HARDY BOYS." Besides that, it's the same as the previous format; the typeface is still Optima.
  • "THE HARDY BOYS," always centered, is usually white or yellow, as is the title.
  • The author's name is quite small. It's usually located at the bottom of the cover, sometimes on two lines instead of one. In the 1967 cover of The Mark on the Door, it's centered directly below the title, which foreshadows Format 9.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 45 and 46. As well, new covers for volumes 10, 13, 17, and 21 were released in this format.

Examples

Volume 17
#17, 1966
Volume 45
#45, 1966
Volume 10
#10, 1967
Volume 13
#13, 1967
Volume 21
#21, 1967
Volume 46
#46, 1967

Format 8 (1968-1970)

sample cover
Sample of Format 8

Description

  • Once again, there's just a slight modification: the typeface is changed to Akzidenz-Grotesk (the ancestor of today's better-known typefaces Helvetica and Arial).
    Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface sample
  • Perhaps coincidentally, the variety of colours increases.
  • On several of these covers, Franklin W. Dixon's name isn't spelled in all caps -- a first for a Hardy Boys cover.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 47 and 48. As well, new covers for volumes 15, 18, 23, 25, and 29 through 32 were released in this format.

Examples

Volume 15
#15, 1968
Volume 30
#30, 1968
Volume 47
#47, 1968
Volume 18
#18, 1969
Volume 25
#25, 1969
Volume 32
#32, 1969
Volume 48
#48, 1969
Volume 23
#23, 1970

Format 9 (1970-1974)

sample cover
Sample of Format 9

Description

  • For the first time, "THE HARDY BOYS," the title, and the author's name are all incoroprated into a single unit. The Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface is retained from the previous format.
  • "THE HARDY BOYS" is centered at the top. A thin horizontal line separates it from the title, centered below it. The author's name appears beneath the title, again separated by a thin horizontal line.
  • All elements are the same colour: either black or white.

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 49 through 53. As well, new covers for volumes 20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 33 through 36, and 38 were released in this format.

Examples

Volume 20
#20, 1970
Volume 26
#26, 1970
Volume 28
#28, 1970
Volume 49
#49, 1970
Volume 22
#22, 1971
Volume 51
#51, 1972
Volume 18
#38, 1973
Volume 53
#53, 1974

Note: Around 1970, cover artist Rudy Nappi introduced a new concept for his cover illustrations. Instead of depicting a specific scene, his new illustrations contained a montage of different elements from the book arranged on an abstract background.

Format 10 (1975-1979)

sample cover
Sample of Format 10

Description

  • A slight alteration of the previous format, incorporating the volume number, which appears to the left of "THE HARDY BOYS."
  • Presumably to visually separate them, a box is drawn around the number and "THE HARDY BOYS."

Usage

This format is found on the original covers of volumes 54 through 58.

Examples

Volume 54
#54, 1975
Volume 55
#55, 1976
Volume 56
#56, 1977
Volume 57
#57, 1978
Volume 58
#58, 1979

Changes made to existing covers

Addition of volume numbers

Around the time that Format 10 was introduced in 1975, the volume number was added to the covers of all previous volumes as well. In most cases, the number was simply placed to the left of "THE HARDY BOYS", as illustrated in this before-and-after shot of volume 45:

Volume 45, before and after the addition of the volume number

In certain cases, particularly if there was not enough space available to insert the number, a blue bar was placed over the existing "THE HARDY BOYS". The volume number, along with a new "THE HARDY BOYS", was printed on this blue bar. Volume 11 is one such case -- the original lettering filled the top line, leaving no space to insert a number, so the blue bar was necessary.

Volume 11, before and after the addition of the volume number

Addition of flashlight header

With the introduction of laminated covers in 1987, the above idea was generalized to all volumes. A blue bar containing "THE HARDY BOYS" and the volume number (now illuminated by a flashlight) was superimposed on the top of every cover in the series:

Volume 30, before and after the addition of the flashlight header

Although the typography of the flashlight header clashes somewhat with the older covers, particularly those of Format 5, one can imagine that the publishers were unhappy with the previous inconsistency of the cover design, as some covers were topped by a blue bar and others were not. The flashlight headers brought a consistent design to the entire series.