Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Small Selection of Penguin Books Ephemera

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Penguin Books. They have come up with a "decade-defining" list of books and a new logo which you may have read about. Five books for each decade from the 1950s to the 1980s will be published with new introductions, the Penguin Decades.

With Penguins on the mind, I thought I would post a selection of ephemera from the publisher.

1. The Penguin Books fold-out catalogue (for the Canadian market) for April 1959 along with an earlier order form insert which states "more than 250 titles now available." For a collector of Penguins, it was a period when it was still possible and conceivable to collect a complete run, including those that had fallen out of print. For a Canadian, I must say some of the titles listed in this catalogue would prove a challenge to locate today, such as Penguin Specials, Crossword Puzzle books, Periodicals for New Biology and Science News, various Reference Books and Handbooks and the Puffin Cut-Out Books.

2. The Canadian advertising inserts must be from the early to mid-1950s or perhaps even earlier as they list basic issues at 30 cents, compared to the 1959 catalogue which lists them at 70 cents. The Penguin logo by Jan Tschichold is also an earlier design, the Penguin on the move so to speak.

3. In 1960, Penguin's 25th Anniversary, this little fold-out insert, "A Feast of Penguins" was issued. I shall quote the front cover text in full:
Penguins Progress

Since their first appearance twenty-five years ago, Penguins have grown from a shelf of ten books to a library, from a library to what has been aptly called, for its quality and range, the Penguin University. Today there are more than 1,200 Penguins, Pelicans, and Puffins in print: among them representative works of almost every living author of note.

Some of the books on their list of 25 books for the anniversary reflect the era, such as William Whyte's The Organization Man, and J. Bronowski's The Common Sense of Science.

Various Bookmarks from the 1960s to 1980s.

The University of Bristol is home to a Penguin Archive, more information can be found here.

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