Literary history sold in auction of Nancy Drew author, Blade writer Millie Benson


They came to touch the past, and with winning bids, to own a piece of the history related to super sleuth Nancy Drew.

During an auction in Toledo today for items from the estate of Mildred "Millie" Benson, who wrote the first books in the Nancy Drew mystery series under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, several books, photo albums, cancelled checks, achievement awards, jewelry, furniture, and other items were sold, such as to Jennifer Fisher, a Queen Creek, Ariz., resident who is president of the Nancy Drew Sleuths, an international group of 750 members dedicated to the reading and study of Nancy Drew, the fictional teen detective whose adventures captured the attention of generations of adolescent and adult readers.

PHOTO GALLERY: Mildred 'Millie' Benson estate auction

Ms. Fisher was pleased when she was top bidder for a scrapbook of Nancy Drew-related artifacts the Sleuths presented in 2001 to Mrs. Benson.

"We got back the scrapbook we made for Millie," Ms. Fisher said. The scrapbook will be part of her group's Nancy Drew archive, which contains more than 4,000 items and is kept in her home."My intention is to preserve it for history and someday have it properly archived," she explained. 

Mrs. Benson, who died in 2002 at age 96, was a long-time reporter at the Toledo Times and, when it ceased operations, its sister paper, The Blade. Items that sold related to her work at The Blade included her expense statements. Those fetched $55.

She left her estate to her daughter, Margaret "Peggy" Wirt, who died in January and bequeathed a collection of her mother's works to the University of Iowa, where Mrs. Benson received a master's degree in journalism in 1927. Items from the remainder of the estate were auctioned today.

Auctioneer Jade Montrie said there were many lots to be auctioned, including the desk where the author sat when she wrote such Nancy Drew adventures as The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase, which she regarded as her favorite mystery in the series. 

The desk, an item of particular interest, was sold for $525. From the author's Old Orchard home, it was verified by other family members as Mrs. Benson's personal typewriter desk, Mr. Montrie said.