Basically the Armada/Collins publications that I collected came in four versions. The earliest books had a little chalet style roof over the title. I only have one of these - 'A Genius at the Chalet School' - which I bought in about 1975/6. There's a small black square on the front cover where the price was originally displayed in shillings and pence. This story probably appealed to me because it was all about a talented pianist who goes to the school. It's the 38th book in the series and has masses of cross-references to earlier story-lines. I'm surprised that my 9 year old self liked it so much!
Many of the books that I bought as a teenager were in the second version format. This had the Armada logo next to Elinor M Brent-Dyer's name. I bought this copy of the first book in the series in 1978 - when I was 12. At this time there were only 9 other Chalet School books in print. It was really frustrating because they seemed to be a totally random selection from the 62 possible titles. It was impossible to read them chronologically.
By the mid-1980s, when the third version became available, 38 of the original titles had been published at some stage over a 15 year period. I bought a couple of books at the time, but the majority of my books in this edition can from the lucky second hand bookshop find. I've ended up with two copies of 'Peggy of the Chalet School' in different versions. I've taken a picture of them side by side so that you can see the change of style.
The fourth version came out in the 1990s. These books have the series number on the spine and an image of a chalet above the title. They filled in a couple of gaps in the earlier storyline and completed the series. (I love the fact that the first book starts with Jo as the first pupil at her sister's school and the final book deals with her triplet's final term. I also love the fact that Elinor's 'award' for being a consistent 'good egg' at school is a happy marriage for her characters!)
I'm missing 'Gay Lambert at the Chalet School' - book number 20 - and I also need a couple from the final stage of the series to have the complete set. Elinor constantly refered to earlier stories as she wrote each book - some of which only appeared in 'Christmas Specials' in the 1930s and 1940s. Having looked on Amazon, I believe that other authors have written books to fill in these gaps. I haven't collected any other these..
My first Chalet School Book was... 'The Wrong Chalet School' (completely confusing when I hadn't read the rest of the series!)
My favourite Chalet School Book was... 'Rivals of the Chalet School' (I read the print off that book!)
My favourite Chalet School character was.. Mary Lou Trelawney, closely followed by Len Maynard.
The full collection - on the top shelves in a corner of my study!