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The National Museum of American Illustration

The Clue In The Old Stagecoach

The NMAI welcomes Nancy Drew into its American Imagist Collection.

The National Museum of American Illustration announces the gift of "The Clue in the Old Stagecoach"; an original book cover illustration from the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories Series. This important piece of Americana has been generously donated by Rudy Nappi, illustrator of the artwork as well as 72 other pieces in the Nancy Drew Series.

Over 200 million copies from the Nancy Drew Series were sold worldwide, and the books have been in print continuously since 1930. Judy A.G. Cutler, Museum Director and Co- Founder, stated, "the Nancy Drew Series is an important protoype of American illustrated literature".

The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, 1959, Rudy Nappi

The Clue In The Old Stagecoach

Nappi, who has illustrated the Nancy Drew Series for 27 years, producing 73 covers in all, attended the Art Students League in New York City after WWII under the G I bill. He chose to study illustration because he admired Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth. Soon after he finished school, Nappi began looking for work, he explains, “I went to a magazine stand and chose to try the publishers whose covers I felt I could improve upon”. It very quickly dawned upon him that the pulp magazines were the neediest for dynamic cover illustrations. After illustrating a series of pulp magazine covers, Nappi was able to secure an assignment with Grosset & Dunlap, a major publishing company known nationally for its tremendously successful children's book series; Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, and others. The art director at Grosset was so impressed with Nappi's first assignment, "The Poor Little Rich Girl" by Eleanor Gates that he offered Nappi the Nancy Drew Series, under one condition; Nappi would have to "illustrate the Series for the rest of his life."

Above you can see the tracing paper that functioned as a guide for Nappi to view the final layout of the book. Illustrators of Nappi's era did not have the tools that we possess today (i.e. Photoshop, Indesign and Quark, just to name a few).

The Clue In The Old Stagecoach 5

Rudy Nappi's success as an illustrator continued after committing to illustrate the Nancy Drew series. He agreed to illustrate for the Hardy Boys series as well, painting 64 covers in all. Over the years he did other illustrations for Grosset & Dunlap such as, How To Play Baseball by Joe Dimaggio, 100 Greatest Sports Heros and Hans Brinker. Nappi's career continued to grow as he also aquired paperback assignments from Avon, Dell, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin and Signet, the most popular in prints in the country.

Nappi included a vintage copy of The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, volume #37 with his gift of the original artwork. Here we can view the finished product that Nappi was working towards when creating the original image.

The NMAI would like to recognize the The Clue in the Old Stagecoach and the vintage volume #37 as great educational tools for they truly enable one to look into the creative process of a working illustrator in the 1950's. Furthermore, they will permit scholars to study the evolution of American illustrated literature from our modern perspective. To that end, the NMAI welcomes Rudy Nappi's gift as an enhancement to its American Imagist Collection.

All Nancy Drew books are published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene regardless of the actual author.

Will you please consider a gift to the NMAI to further support our efforts at preserving these artifacts of American culture in perpetuity. Contact: Lee Ann Scotto T: 401- 851-8949 x 31, or email The NMAI is administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a non- profit 501 (c) (3) organization.

The Museum is open for guided tours by advance reservation only. Groups tours are welcome by reservation year-round. Tickets $25: Seniors 60+ and military w/id, $22, Children 12 & under not admitted. For more information telephone 401-851-8949 ext. 31 or

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Lee Ann Scotto, Assistant to the Director, The National Museum of American Illustration-492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840. T:401-851-8949 ext.31- F: 401-851-8974-

The National Museum of American Illustration is a nonprofit independent, educational, and aesthetic organization. It is located in Newport, RI on Bellevue Avenue at Vernon Court (1898), a Beaux-Arts adaptation of an 18th century French chateau. It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to American illustration art. Illustration consists of original artwork created to be reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers and advertisements. ‘Golden Age’ paintings by such luminaries as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, and 75 others are displayed in ‘Gilded Age’ architecture, creating a unique union of art and architecture- a national treasure. The Museum is administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal to present the best possible venue for appreciating the greatest collection of illustration art; the most American of American art.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This e-mail message and its contents are copyrighted and are our proprietary products. Any unauthorized use, reproduction, or transfer of this message or its contents, in any medium, is strictly prohibited. 2005 National Museum of American Illustration

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