Nancy Drew #59

The Secret in the Old Lace

Basic Plot: Matey overhears Nancy talking about possible solution to the Lefevre story about a missing fortune and alerts Rocke. They get to Brugge first to search for treasure.


Brugge, Belgium

Recurring Characters

primarily Bess Marvin, George Fayne; also Carson Drew, Eloise Drew, Hannah Gruen, Ned Nickerson, Burt Eddleton, Dave Evans, Chief McGinnis, Mrs. Marvin, Mr. Fayne


  • Madame Chambray - college friend of Mrs. Marvin
  • Oscar Kell - house painter
  • John Miller - editor-in-chief of Circle & Square
  • Prof. Philip Permeke
  • Hilda - his daughter
  • Joseph Stolk - art history student
  • Cody Vaughn - great-great-grandson of Warrington; cowboy type; actor
  • Theo Schlinger - boat owner
  • receptionist at Circle & Square
  • post office clerk
  • 2 RHPD officers
  • 4 teenage houligans from the Spider Patch gang, including Sammy Johnson (Matey's brother)
  • ruddy-faced schipper
  • woman shopping at lace center
  • Peter - her chubby 8-year-old
  • lace maker
  • an Irish tourist
  • Jacques - guard at Gruuthuse
  • woman from reception desk at Gruuthuse
  • curator from an unnamed museum
  • Permeke's housemaid
  • motorboat driver
  • police officer

    Historical Figures (late 19th century)

  • François Lefevre - aka Friedrich Vonderlicht - character in Nancy's story, previous owner of Mme. Chambray's house
  • Antoinette Tissot - his wife, an actress, aka Elaine Warrington
  • Dirk Gelder - famous painting teacher



  • Herbert Rocke - editor
  • Matey Johnson - former sailor, assistant painter
  • André Bergère - aka Paul Frieden; plagiarized story

Motivation: finding François's treasure


In the cuffs in the portrait, Nancy discovers embroidered "Je Vous Aime" and geometric figure which indicates the golden birdcage in the hidden tower room. By pulling on hook on which the cage once hung, a compartment opens revealing jewels and the cuffs. The fortune is given to Cody as the only known descendent.

Nancy's Mis-adventures

  • air let out of tire
  • dining room window broken
  • man snips screen of bedroom window
  • attacked by 4 youths (Spider Patch) and car vandalized
  • accused of plagiarism
  • suitcase stolen at airport
  • almost slips into canal
  • man attempts to throw her into canal
  • almost falls off a balcony
  • squirted in the face with needle-sharp geyser of water

Hannah cooks

angel food cake

rice pudding

Key clues

can of white paint

golden cross set with diamonds and lapis - encassed in linen embroidered Antoinette Tissot

embroidered message in the cuffs

François's will

François's diary

Nancy's outfits

ecru linen dress trimmed with fine lace

skirt & sweater

Nancy's talents

enters mystery story she's written to magazine contest

lifts fingerprints from ladder

Meaning of the title

Clues (shape of birdcage) from the lace cuffs in the portrait lead to the treasure


a ruby ring (the red will remind her of François's jacket)

items of interest

RHts restaurants: Pickles & Plums - health food restaurant

trim on the Drew home is "Ghost White"

Hannah needs reading glasses

Nancy has a Queen Anne chair and desk in her room

George dares Bess to eat some eels, and Bess enjoys them


Below is a gallery of all the covers I have found for The Secret in the Old Lace. Below each picture is the artist's name, and a brief description of the scene depicted.

Wanderer "Arch" cover by Ruth Sanderson: fantasy montage including painting described on pg. 108 - portrait for François Lefevre entitled "Le Cavalier at le Spectre Noir" by Dirk Gelder, on display at the Gruuthuse Museum

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Garin Baker: pp. 73-74- in the cellar at Mme. Chambray's, George & Nancy threatened by ghost (Rocke) with leather boots after he has locked Bess in a closet (Nancy should be in skirt & sweater)

Minstrel cover by Linda Thomas: pp. 109-110 - inspecting the painting at the museum; George should also be in this scene; Nancy does use magnifying glass

Fernández (Mexican) cover by copyist - based on Thomas artwork. Although hard to see in the scan above, the Mexican cover has been carefully redrawn based on the Thomas original.

Armada (UK) Format "B" and Angus & Robertson cover by Peter Archer: page 101 - Nancy is in pursuit of a thief (dressed in raincoat and hat) who has just stolen some valuable lace from the Gruuthuse museum. The lace is correctly shown as hanging out of his pocket. The thief has scooped Nancy into his arms and is preparing to throw her over the stone railing of a bridge over one of Brugge's canals.

Armada (UK) Format "C" cover by unknown artist: pages 134-135: Nancy is in Mme. Chambray's upstairs room reading the diary found in the trunk.

Wahlströms (Sweden) cover by Ulla Urkio: I have not been able to determine which scene this depicts. The sinister figure from the Gelder painting appears to be reflected in a decorative mirror. George, or maybe Hilda is in the background.

Masque Jeunesse (France) Format "J" cover by Philippe Daure (this artwork also featured on Format K, slightly cropped): pages 134-135: Nancy is in Mme. Chambray's upstairs room reading the diary found in the trunk. The room is described as having high beams and a skylight (through which Bergère is spying).

Hachette (France) Format "L" cover by Philippe Daure: page 135 - Nancy investigates a trunk in upstairs room. Inside should be letters, newspapers and François's diary. On page 138, Bess opens a "fair-sized box near the trunk" which contains the red cavalier suit with the detachable lace cuffs.

Forlagshuset (Norwegian) cover by unknown artist: same as Sanderson above.

Martins Forlag (Danish) cover: possibly a fantasy montage of Nancy in front of a canal in Brugge with lace cuffs.

Tammi (Finland) cover by Ruth Sanderson (see above)

Tammi (Finland) cover by Pentti Kareinen: page 115? - Nancy, Bess and George are dining at the Permekes when a procession of lighted motorboats comes down the canal. Everyone is dressed in costume, including a single man (Rocke) in ghostly white and cowboy boots. He throws a package containing a warning inside. This cover shows 2 ghostly figures and no boats or lights.

Fargoes (Malay) cover by Amy: probably same scene as Archer artwork, where Nancy is pursuing the thief after he has stolen the lace from the museum. (This title has not been confirmed, but I am guessing it is Old Lace from the translation of the title and the illustrations found inside)

Rege (Hungarian) cover by Linda Thomas (see above)


Indira (Indonesian) cover by Peter Archer (UK editions above)
Vergara (Argentine) cover by Ruth Sanderson (above)


This chronological listing of printings mimics the identification system developed by David Farah for his guide on Nancy Drew. He has given me permission to replicate his system for the purpose of categorizing the paperbacks from this series. For those of you not familiar with his methods for identifying a printing, the first line describes the outside of the book (cover/spine/back cover) and the second line describes the internal pages (inside cover/pre-text pages/post-text pages/inside back cover).

Published:  1980
authors: Harriet Adams, Nancy Axelrad
plot outline: Harriet Adams

Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/1.95,+,41114-4
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-58,HB#59-64, Who, Hidden Clues, Date Book, Diary/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/2.50,41114-4, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-60,LC#1-4/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/2.75,41114-4, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-64,LC#1-5/bl/bl

4th (unknown)
Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/xx,41114-4, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl/Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-xx/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/2.95,41114-4, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad/ND#57-72 ao, LC#1-9 of/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on light purple/3.50,41114-4, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp (10-2, 10-6)/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/HB#59-85 ao of/NQH#1/bl

Sanderson/ W1/cream on light purple/3.50,41114-4, +
bl/exc/ND#57-78/tp/cp (10-2,10-7)/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-78 ao of /HB#59-85 ao of/NQH#1/bl/bl

Baker/W2/two-toned pink/3.50, pic,+,63822-X
bl/exc/ND#57-78/tp/cp (10-2,10-8)/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/DrG#1-6/S+S (16) of/PSc#1-6/SIArch (4)/bl

1st Minstrel
Baker/W2/two-toned pink, 350/pic,+,63822-X
bl, UPC/exc/ND#57-83/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//blx3/Min (14)/Min (14) of/bl/Min (3) of /bl

1st Minstrel (probably really 2nd Minstrel)
Thomas/M1/tangerine, 350/pic, 69067-1
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-90/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//BF#1-5 of/HB#59-97, g of/ND#57-90, g1 of/NewBT#1-13 of/LCA (8) of/BSt (2)/BSt (2) of/bl

2nd Minstrel (unknown)
Thomas/M1/tangerine, 350/pic, 69067-1
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-xx/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//xx/bl

3rd Minstrel
Thomas/M1/tangerine, 399/pic, 69067-1
BF#1-15/exc/ND#57-86/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//BF#1-5 of/HB#59-109, g of/ND#57-102, g1 of/NewBT#1-25 of/Nin (3) of/BSt (2)/BSt (2) of/NewBT ad




Foreign Title

Title's translation


Alice et le secret de la vieille dentelle

Nancy and the secret of the old lace


Kitty och den gyllene skatten

Nancy and the golden treasure


Detektiv Nancy Drew og kniplingmysteriet

Nancy and the lace mystery


Neiti etsivä ja vanhan pitsin arvoitus

Nancy and the puzzle of the old lace


Den gamle kniplings hemmelighed

The old lace secret


Nancy og leyndarmál gömlu knipplinganna

Nancy andthe secret old lace

Spanish (Argentine ed.)

El secreto del viejo encajo

The secret in the old lace

Spanish (Mexican ed.)

El secreto del encajo antiguo

The secret in the ancient lace


Misteri kain renda

Mystery of a lace


A régi csipke titka

Rahasia Renda Tua
The secret of old lace

The Secret in the Old Lace, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1980 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Secret in the Old Lace,artwork by Garin Baker © 1986 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Secret in the Old Lace, artwork by Linda Thomas © by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Secret in the Old Lace, artwork by Peter Archer © 1980 by Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
The Secret in the Old Lace, artwork unattributed © 1986 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
Alice et le secret de la vieille dentelle, artwork by Jean Parmentier © 1984 by Hachette, Paris.
Alice et le secret de la vieille dentelle, artwork by Philippe Daure © 1995 by Hachette, Paris.
Detektiv Nancy Drew og kniplingmysteriet, artwork unattributed © by Forlagshuset A/S, Oslo.
Den gamle kniplings hemmelighed, artwork unattributed © 1981 by Martins Forlag, Copenhagen.
Neiti etsivä ja vanhan pitsin arvoitus, artwork by Pentti Kareinen © 1996 by Tammi, Helsinki.
Kitty och den gyllene skatten, artwork by Ulla Urkio © 1982 by B. Wahlströms Bokförlag, Stockholm.
El secreto del encajo antiguo, artwork unattributed © 1993 by Fernández Editores, Mexico City. Image courtesy of Meredith Jaffe.
Misteri kain renda, artwork by Amy © 2003 by Penerbitan Fargoes, Kuala Lumpur.
A régi csipke titka, artwork by Linda Thomas © by Simon & Schuster, New York.
Rahasia Renda Tua,
artwork by Peter Archer © 1980 by Angus & Robertson, Sydney.


© 2002, 2003, 2005, 2012, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox