Penguin Collectors Society

Tanya Schmoller

We are sorry to announce that the Society’s President Emeritus and Member No.1, Tanya Schmoller, died peacefully on Thursday 14 January.


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

The Society’s Annual Meeting 2016

Each year, the Society holds an Annual Meeting which members and non-members are equally welcome to attend. The next will be held from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September 2016 in the city of Sheffield.

The main event will take place on Saturday 17 September at Showroom Workstation, a base for cultural activities converted from a handsome 1930s former car showroom. It is very close to Sheffield railway station, which is 160 miles and two hours by train from St Pancras, making a day trip feasible from London as well as from many other places.

The business of the AGM will take well under an hour in the middle of the day. There will be an infomative display and perhaps a short lecture on a topic of interest to Penguin afficionados and all who appreciate the design, content and history of books. The meeting will be a chance to mingle with a convivial group of Penguin enthusiasts as well as an opportunity to seek a rare or missing volume in the sale of books.

The big York book fair will take place at the same weekend. It would be possible to go to York, less than an hour north of Sheffield, during the Friday daytime, then join our pub supper in Sheffield, the prelude to the main event, that evening.

On the Saturday evening, an informal dinner will take place in a private room in Jurys Inn, a modern hotel five minutes’ walk away.

Overnight accommodation in Jurys Inn is being held for members. To learn how to book it, please refer to the December 2015 Penguin Collector 85, or email There is of course in the city a wide choice of other places to stay.

You need do nothing yet to attend the Saturday activities: full details (and booking arrangements for stalls, lunch and supper) will be in the June Collector, and provided here then. Non members who would like more information about the meeting should e-mail We hope that many members and non-members alike will join us for an enjoyable, stimulating and educational Penguin weekend.

Annual General Meeting 2015

The Society’s 2015 AGM was held at Sarum College in Salisbury, on Saturday 12 September alt-hough the related activities extended for the full weekend and included an informative guided tour of Salisbury Cathedral and its Library and the traditional Penguin dinner on Saturday even-ing at The New Inn. Salisbury was selected in part as the home of the 13th-century Cathedral and its Close, described by Pevsner as being composed of ‘houses of absorbing architectural interest’, and forming an outstanding townscape. It was a timely choice as the best-preserved copy of Magna Carta was on display throughout 2015 in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. About 50 members and their partners attended the AGM and, in addition to receiving the usual update on the activities of the Society listened to a brief lecture by Tim Graham on the sometimes fractious dealings between Kurt Enoch and Allen Lane over Penguin USA based on his research into an amalgamation of unpublished works and correspondence.

In a tie with the Society’s soon to be published volume on Maigret and the Penguin Books the AGM included a display of over 100 Penguin Simenon’s featuring Inspector Maigret, with examples from the Classics, the Simenon Ten of 1951/52, Main Series, Penguin 60, TV tie-ins (from both BBC and ITV), and the collage covers of Jamie Keenan. 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 Eric Gill Series Exhibition

The Eric Gill Series exhibition kicks off Wednesday, 4 November at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London. Monotype has partnered with Eye, Penguin Books, Ditchling Museum, FIELD, LeBook, Five Points Brewery, Typography Workshop and The Letterform Archive to present a seven-day exhibition on the type designs of Eric Gill.

Rarely seen materials from the Monotype Archive and our partners’ private collections will be presented together for the first time. You can expect to see hand-drawings documenting the development of the Gill Sans typeface, test prints for display fonts that were never digitized, and copper plates revealing the production process of early letterpress typefaces.

We invite designers and type-lovers to come explore the new Eric Gill Series typefaces through our archive exhibition and interactive installations and workshops.

There will be an also be an evening event with Phil Baines, Claire Mason and David Pearson among others, on the early evening of Friday 6 November

New Publications

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

Price £12.00

Buy The King Penguin Series: A Survey

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