During the years the books were published, several different bindings were used for the series. Some of the books have a copyright page that shows the printing date and edition, but most simply have the original copyright date which makes it difficult to identify when a particular book might have been printed. By looking at the binding and inside the book at the list of other Maida books which had been written at that time, you can estimate when the book was printed.
If you are paying premium for a mint copy with dust jacket, make sure that the dust jacket and the book both list the same last book in the Maida series. If the two lists do not match, the dust cover may have come from another printing edition of the book. To some collectors, this will lower the value of the dust jacket if it is evident that they are not a matched pair.
Since Maida's Little Shop was the first book in the series, many different editions have been printed as additional books were released. By the comparing the last book in the listing of other Maida books from books with different bindings, I have tried to estimate a chronology of when the different bindings were used, so that collectors can estimate when their book was printed.
Even if you do not have a scanner or digital camera for sending pictures, you can still help by telling me what book you have, which binding it has, and what the last book listed in the series is in your book..
My current estimate from this data is that the dark yellow/orange binding was used for books printed beginning in 1939 with Maida's Little Island. From what I have been able to find out this is when Grosset & Dunlap first began publishing the books. In 1942 Maida's Little Village was released and the cover was changed do a medium blue, but very little else changed. The inside picture, end-papers, printing on the book exterior, and the dust jackets remained virtually unchanged. We refer to these throughout this site as the pre-World War II editions.
These Yellow/Orange books are the earliest ones normally found easily. The copyrights show the original dates from 1910 to 1926, but these books were not really printed until 1939 until 1942. A few of these Yellow/Orange editions will show the dates of the printing editions on the copyright page.
I am fortunate enough to have found an earlier copy of Maida's Little School, that was published by The Viking Press. I bought this copy for $3.99 on eBay. The copyright of my book is shows as 1926, but its has a handwritten inscription dated 1932. The earliest edition of a Maida book that I have for sale was another version of Little School printed by the Viking Press. It had a 1926 copyright as well as being autographed by Ms. Irwin in 1926. This book was for auction in March, 2002 for $299.99. The seller received no bids for the book. Click here to see pictures of these original Viking Press editions of Maida's Little School.
In 1946 Maida's Little Theater was released. The binding was the same medium blue color, but many other features changed. The front cover is now empty except for a boat anchor. The inside end papers now have a map of Maida's "little world." The picture inside each the earlier novels is changed. These new pictures are in color on the dust jacket as they were before, but now the front picture covers the entire front cover and binding edge of the dust jacket. In 1952 Maida's Little Hospital was released using almost the same binding, except the color was changed from medium blue to a darker blue tweed. We refer to these throughout this site as the post-World War II "Anchor" editions.
This same blue tweed binding is also used by the publisher, Grosset and Dunlap, for other famous children's books, such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins. The changes in bindings by Grosset and Dunlap are perhaps reflected in their other books, but we no not know anything about the early editions of these books.
If you have a book with a binding different than what I have described, please send me an email with information about the book.