The books they tried to ban

Test your knowledge of censors and would-be censors in this quiz from the Guardian.

The cover illustration is from the first printing of Candide in the Penguin Classics series (1947). This was volume 4 in the series. The text may be a very early design by Jan Tschichold, who took up his role at Penguin in March 1947, but the setting, in Monotype Bembo 270, does not follow his famous composition style – dashes are unspaced em-rules, there are extra spaces after sentence full stops, and the long-tailed R is used.

The cover is the original pre-Tschichold design by John Overton; the roundel is by William Grimmond.

I’ve now managed to look closely at the first few Penguin Classics, and the Overton/Tschichold question is rather more complex than implied by the above, or by the simple statement in Baines, ‘only the first seven titles appeared in this design, before it was re-styled by Jan Tschichold in 1947–8’. Not surprisingly, the transition from one design to another in a series in production was not clear-cut. There are early PCs with Overton covers/Overton text; Overton covers/Tschchold texts and vice versa. Some books feature pre-war bowing Penguins, some a Penguin standing on an open book (Baines, p. 251); at least one with a Tschichold Penguin on the half-title, but no device on the title-page. Another has an Overton ‘jacket’ wrapped around what looks like a Tschichold cover.

Baines, P. (2005) Penguin by design. London: Allen Lane (pp. 46, 64–7)

The Face of Britain

This was a series of travel guides to regions and buildings in the British Isles, published by B. T. Batsford Ltd in the 1930s. The cover I’ve illustrated is from the first printing of The Heart of Scotland, published in 1934. The vibrant colours of the jacket are achieved by the Jean Berté process, which used rubber plates and water-based inks (later printings were done by more conventional processes). Nan Ridehalgh, who often visits the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, has studied the process, and I hope to show more examples from her researches.

The illustrator, named as Brian Cook on the jacket, was actually Brian Caldwell Cook Batsford. A collection of his work appeared in The Britain of Brian Cook in 1988.

Book ephemera

Thanks to Typegirl for this link to a site specializing in the labels that booksellers used to use to promote themselves. The picture shows a label from Foyles of London, pasted into the front board of my copy of The Wind in the Willows; the date must be around 1961.

Chance finds of fifties children’s books

Researching my family history, I came across a cartoon in the Syracuse [NY] Post-Standard that seemed more stylish and whimsical than the run of syndicated strips: ‘Geraldine’. This turns out to be by the illustrator Elisabeth Brozowska, and here, thanks to Google and Flickr, is an example of her work.


This led me on to other Flickr sets with post-war illustrations, and I found first these orchestral illustrations by Jan Balet (1951)
What Makes an Orchestra by Eric Sturdevant.

and this dictionary by Richard Scarry dated 1949.

My Little Golden Dictionary by grickily.