Penguin Collectors Society


Allen Lane 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.

Pelican Books Relaunch

PCS member Andrew Kelly is the Director of the Bristol Festival of Ideas and has arranged to host the relaunch of Pelican Books in Bristol on 14 May, nearly 25 years after the demise of the original imprint. Details are given below:

Pelican Books Launch
Watershed, Bristol
Wed 14 May 2014, 19.30–21.00

2014 marks the relaunch of Pelican Books. Pelican Books provided an education for millions – formally and informally – and always published world-class writers. In a celebration of the very best ideas around, four of the relaunch authors present their case: Ha-Joon Chang provides a user’s guide to economics; Robin Dunbar addresses human evolution; Orlando Figes looks at the history of revolutionary Russia 1891-1991; and Bruce Hood looks at the hidden operations of the brain, and explores what makes us who we are. Each will speak for 15 minutes and then debate with the audience.

The PCS has some guest tickets available on a first come, first served basis. If anyone wishes to attend please email Andrew at

Latest News

Annual General Meeting 2014

The Society’s 41st annual meeting will be held in Sedbergh between Friday 19 and Sunday 21 September, with the main programme, including the AGM itself, on Saturday 20 September 2014.

Sedbergh was designated a ‘Book Town’ in 2006. It has a large secondhand bookshop in a former cinema with a wide-ranging stock and some smaller booksellers. There are many other good secondhand book sources in the region. The York Book Fair, Britain’s biggest, will take place at the same weekend, and members could visit it on Friday and continue to Sedbergh.

There are many other reasons to visit Sedbergh and its region. It is an attractive stone-built town of 3,000 inhabitants, with a friendly atmosphere. It was historically at an extremity of the West Riding of Yorkshire and is now administratively in Cumbria. To its east runs the Pennine ridge, to its north are the unfrequented Howgill Fells, and to its west lie the foothills of the Lake District. Beautiful countryside, scattered with other pleasant small towns, surrounds it.

The meeting will take place in the People’s Hall, close to the centre of the town. The annual informal Penguin dinner will be held at a pub-restaurant on the main street. Accommodation will be available in several small hotels and bed & breakfasts. The venue will not strictly be residential, but all the Society’s activities will be within a short walking distance of each other and, for most of us, of our overnight accommodation.

While a day return trip to Sedbergh is possible even from London, many members may wish to stay in the town for the weekend, or even longer. The programme will begin with a pub supper on the Friday evening, and end with elevenses on the Sunday, with the main events taking place between 1100 and 1600 on Saturday 20 September.

Annual General Meeting 2013

The Society’s 2013 AGM was held at the Duke Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Surrey, on the weekend of Saturday 7 September. This meeting celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Society, the first meeting having been held some 200 metres away. Over 50 members and their partners attended and were rewarded with a fascinating trio of reminiscences: from David Teale about working in Penguin in the 1960s; from Tanya Schmoller about how she met Allen Lane when he was on a business trip to Uruguay and subsequently embarked on a six-month wartime journey to England to work for Penguin; and from Russell Edwards recalling the earlier days of the Society. The day concluded with a fine PCS Dinner in Don Fernando’s Spanish restaurant.

On the Friday before, members had been entertained to a special visit to the exhibition of former Penguin designer Jerry Cinamon’s work at the ICA; to a visit to the original home of The Bodley Head in Vigo Street, London, where Allen Lane started his publishing career and which he reacquired in 1965 for Allen Lane the Penguin Press – now a showroom for a firm supplying luxury leather interior decoration; and to a meal at the steak house which has replaced the former Barcelona restaurant in Beak Street, favourite haunt of Allen Lane and his senior editors.

New Publications

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.

Price £8.00

Buy Penguins On The March

Penguin Books 6d

Set of 10 colour postcards

The second PCS postcard, produced to celebrate the Society’s 40th anniversary. This is based on a point of sale card produced in the very early years of Penguin’s existence.

Price £5.00

Buy Penguin Books 6d

Recent News

Annual General Meeting 2012

The Society’s AGM was held in Chester and across the Welsh border at Hawarden, on the weekend of Saturday 20 October 2012. The programme started on Friday afternoon with a most engaging tour of Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, the largest private library in Britain. The AGM itself was held in the hall of The Queen’s School, Chester. After the formal business, some 50 members and their partners were entertained to a fascinating talk by John Hitchin, formerly Retail and Publicity Director of Penguin, on ‘How Penguin Marketing Began’. The annual Penguin dinner was held at the Gladstone Library and the whole weekend was adjudged a great success.