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.

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

Puffins Progress

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.

Price £15.00

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.

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