The Penguin Collectors Society was founded in 1973 by a small group of enthusiasts meeting in Richmond, Surrey; today there are over 500 members worldwide.
We study twentieth-century book design, particularly Penguin Books, and help to preserve and conserve Penguin Books and material relating to Penguin, and ensure the ready availability of that material for present and future research.
Actually collecting Penguin Books is not, of course, a prerequisite for membership. Any enthusiast for the good book design, typography, illustration and writing with which Penguin Books have been associated since 1935 will find something of interest here.
Annual General Meeting 2014
The Society’s 2014 AGM was held at the People’s Hall in Sedbergh, on Saturday 20 September although the related activities extended for the full weekend and included an informal gathering for supper on Friday and the traditional Penguin dinner on Saturday evening at The Dalesman Country Inn. Sedbergh was selected as a location in part because it has been designated as a ‘Book Town’ but also as it contains numerous good secondhand bookshops for the enjoyment of our members. About 40 members and their partners attended the AGM and heard three short talks: one by Michael Lake discussing his interest in King Penguins and reminiscing about collecting Penguins in Africa; one by Liz Eastmond on the joys of finding and selling books on the Island of Waiheke in New Zealand; and one by Jerry Cinamon on the meaning of personal collecting in the context of a single volume.
The AGM was graced with a fine display of Abram Games covers and Romek Marber designs for the enjoyment and education of attendees. The formalities of the Society’s annual gathering are always supplemented by informative talks and displays designed to interest both collectors and those interested in the design and history of Penguin books, and all are welcome to attend.
The King Penguin Series – A Survey
PCS member Michael Lake has written this detailed survey of the original King Penguins, that rather idiosyncratic, hardback series designed to appeal to the public’s ‘liking for illustrated keepsakes’. The book provides a description of each of the 76 titles in the series, from the inception of the series in 1939 to the final publication in 1959, with the books grouped by theme within each stage of the development of the series. The role of each of the principal protagonists – Elizabeth Senior, Nikolaus Pevsner, Richard Fishenden, Wolfgang Foges, Jan Tschichold, Hans Schmoller and, of course, Allen Lane – is fully discussed, with much archival material, showing how the series evolved over 20 years. There are 106 illustrations, most in colour, throughout the text and a further gallery of front covers of all 76 titles at the end of the book. Various Appendices also give details of publication dates; illustrators and cover designers; themes; and ideas for King Penguins which were never published. There is also a full Bibliography.
Overall this beautiful book, appropriately bound in cloth boards, is a fitting tribute to what many view as the jewel in the Penguin pantheon.
Hardback, 21.6 × 15.3 cms, 182 illustrations, 160 pages
The Penguin Collectors Society holds occasional study days, and from these we publish books based on the main talks given during the day, and supplemented by further relevant essays. This most recent study day, held at the University of Bristol at the end of 2010 looked at the history of Puffin Books, the many separate series that make up Puffin, and also at the differences between publishing children’s fiction and story books in the past, compared with today, when there are umpteen new media as well as television vying for the attention of the audience, and where much more is expected of authors – and even the characters in the books. Talks included Joe Pearson on Noel Carrington; Val Grove on the subject of her biography, Kaye Webb; Liz Attenborough on her time at Puffin; and Francesca Dow, Puffin’s current Managing Director, talking about Puffin today. The afternoon session, a discussion, featured most of the morning’s speakers, along with Elv Moody, then a Puffin editor; Anna Billson, Puffin art director; and two author/illustrators, Jan Pienkowski and Joe Berger. The day was introduced by Phil Baines, who also chaired the discussion. The book includes all these elements, with additional chapters on Porpoise and Ptarmigan Books; Felicity Trotman on Peacocks; and Tony Lacey discussing the many challenges of following Kaye Webb. Puffins Progress includes around 300 cover illustrations, including a gallery of early Peacocks, Picture Puffins, Puffin Post, and both Puffin Picture and Story Books. This is an essential reference work for anyone interested in children’s literature, and publishing, editing, marketing and designing children’s books. The book was edited by Steve Hare and designed by Olesia Lipskaia, a student at Central Saint Martins, under the supervision of Phil Baines.
This large-format landscape book measures c.20 × 26 cms and has 124 pages.
Buy Puffins Progress
Penguins On The March
A facsimile reprint of Herbert Spencer’s splendid 1962 survey of Penguin design, first issued in Typographica 5, with 28 colour and black-and-white images of Penguin covers. It also includes the foldout showing a further 36 covers which illustrate the development of Penguin cover design. In addition this edition includes the correction printed in Typographica 6 pointing out that it was Romek Marber who designed the crime grid for Penguin, not Germano Facetti, along with Marber’s own drawing for that grid. Richard Hollis has provided the introduction to this special edition.
This large-format book measures 27 × 21 cms and has 24 pages plus a 4-page foldout.