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The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon

The Tower Treasure (1927)

by Franklin W. Dixon

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2,330234,056 (3.54)33
  1. 10
    Tom Swift and His Great Oil Gusher by Victor Appleton (ChrisSlavens)
    ChrisSlavens: Fans of the Hardy Boys may enjoy Tom Swift's adventures, and vice versa. Both series were produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
  2. 10
    Poppy Ott's Seven-League Stilts by Leo Edwards (FrederFrederson)

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Almost a year to the day I read the 1959 'The Tower Treasure' I came across this facsimile edition of the original 1927 novel. What makes the difference? In a word:

Bowdlerize: To remove material that is considered improper or offensive from (a text or account), especially with the result that the text becomes weaker or less effective. - Oxford Living Dictionary

The Strathmeyer Syndicate under Harriet Strathmeyer Adams revised the Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew series in the late 1950s. This was intended to update language and address some legitimate complaints about racist characterizations and, less legitimate, behavioral issues with the young detectives. The Hardy Boys, all-American and daring, became toadies to American institutions and any youthful impertinence of theirs towards authority and each other was scrubbed away. Nancy Drew fared worse, her yachtish, upper crust background was toned down, but so was much of her independent spirit.

'The Tower Treasure' as it appeared in 1927 is a very different novel. There was a loss of some 40-odd pages and many aspects of the plot were completely rewritten. The Hardy Boys are still the two sons of famed detective Fenton Hardy and on an errand for him, they witness a reckless driver who turns out to have stolen a car from their friend Chet. Later, a robbery is reported at the Tower Mansion and a friend's father is implicated. They get involved in the case, track down the thief and discover where the treasure is hidden. The 1959 version shortens the direct involvement of the boys in some more dangerous elements of the case and demonstrates almost a mania for wigs. Wigs are important to the case, but the 1927 version understandably doesn't have the boys going immediately to one of Bayport's three male wig shops. That's a leap that should occur later in a case.

Along with plot elements being condensed, descriptive language was cut. The 1959 story begins with the boys being chased down on their motorcycles by a speeding car. The original takes some time to introduce the boys and their hometown. Mealtimes are important, and 'Redwall'-worthy descriptions of tables groaning with food. Characterization was different, too. The wealthy Adelia Applegate is played for laughs because of her eccentric fashion, but it seems kinder in 1927, even if she is more sympathetic, providing an 'honorable alibi', in the revised version. Women don't play a significant role at all in either of them, mostly being providers of food.

There was one objectionable piece in the original book. This was, at the suggestion of their friend Tony Prito, to use the fears of an Italian immigrant to provide cover for a distraction to keep the Chief of Police out of the case. Threatened by 'the Black Hand', Rocco is too-ready to believe a ticking box on his farm stand is a bomb. The revised version has the boys kindly offer to watch a grocer's store and pretended a fire in the backyard incinerator was out of control and thus kept a buffoon private eye (can't have the police look ridiculous) away from the case.

I have no argument for the value of that particular scene, but the overall effect of the change to the books was a reduction of quality. There is no rich language left in the Hardy Boys series after the changes were made, and Frank and Joe themselves became indistinguishable from each other apart from their hair and ages. This was such a revelation that I've begun actively collecting the early books with their original text.

Hardy Boys

Next: 'The House on the Cliff' ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Mar 13, 2019 |
I'm sorely tempted to revisit other Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew titles now, but I'll probably let the impulse pass. The Hardy Boys, two clean-cut young fellows named Frank and Joe, are nearly run down on their motorcycles one afternoon. It comes out later that there was a robbery at the prominent Tower Mansion! The family, an aging bachelor and his worst-dressed sister issue a reward for the return of the stolen jewels but are pretty unwilling to trust two teens to search their house. Nonetheless, with a father of a chum wrongfully accused of the theft, and some advice from their P.I. Pop, the Hardy Boys set out to solve the mystery.

I read the more commonly available revised version of The Tower Treasure, but I read up on the changes that had been made in the late 1950s to make the story more accessible to young readers and to mollify those parents who might object to a healthy dose of 1920s racism. This series, along with Nancy Drew, underwent some radical changes to bring their characters in line with the principles, for better or for worse, of the day.

Frankly, the history of the changes made to the series and the contractually anonymous writers who made it happen, were more interesting than the story itself. There is some clever sleuthing and red herrings along the way, but its hard to read these stories with the same enthusiasm I did as a kid.

I read the first Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret of the Old Clock, at the same time and had similar feelings. ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Writing: 4.0; Theme: 4.5; Content: 5.0; Language: 5.0; Overall: 4.5; The Hardy Boys solve their first mystery in the series as they help free one of their friend's dad who has been accused of stealing jewels from his employer. Recommend all the books in the classic series. ***May 10, 2018*** ( )
  jntjesussaves | May 25, 2018 |
The Hardy Boys may be too difficult a read for W alone but he seems to have little trouble following as I read aloud. Both Hardy Boys and Three Investigators occurred to me as alternatives after he didn't take to Encyclopedia Brown. Chapters are short, often contrived to end as cliffhangers, there's a good bit of dialogue (though so, so stilted I almost laugh as I narrate), and the occasional full-page illustrations keep his interest.

I read nearly all of the original novels as a kid, over 50 of them, and now recall next to nothing apart from recognizing titles. Forgotten these were written in the 1920s, evidently set in the same time period, yet (I agree with R) the narrative reads like a squeaky clean take on 1950s high school. So fair enough: it would be exceedingly easy to criticise these books on multiple fronts. For now, W's enthusiasm is all I need to continue.


This first case has the Boys in Bayport (location unspecified), apart from a brief trip to NYC with their father, and we're introduced to several characters from town as well as friends, townsfolk, and neighbours.

I wonder how important it was to begin with the first novel. I vaguely recall the relevant "introductory" information is repeated in each novel, and wonder if any chronology is followed (knowing that the Boys planned to build a "crime lab" in the garage, for instance, or that they work part time at the local grocers). I suspect we could pick up any book in any order and not get much out of knowing of prior cases (or miss much if we skipped one). ( )
1 vote elenchus | Mar 29, 2018 |
This book is a classic. It is the first of the Hardy Boys series and leads the reader on an exciting adventure where the boys learn of the location of stolen treasure from a dying criminal who is only able to tell them it is in the tower. I would use this book with third through fifth graders. This is an exciting book that will get students engaged. I would use this book to help get students hooked on reading. Once students read this book, they may want to read the rest of the series. I know I did!
  Jordan.Francies | Nov 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franklin W. Dixonprimary authorall editionscalculated
McFarlane, LeslieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rogers, Walter S.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"After the help we gave dad on that forgery case I guess he'll begin to think we could be detectives when we grow up."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0448089017, Hardcover)

Grownups will remember Frank and Joe Hardy and their ability to solve even the most baffling of mysteries. The first book was published in 1927, and over the years the series has sold over 50 million copies. But mysteriously, the original books have disappeared. Now, Applewood is pleased to present The Tower Treasure, the very first Hardy Boys mystery ever published.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:00 -0400)

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When the Hardys' wealthy neighbor is robbed, Joe and Frank are asked by their father to help solve the case.

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