Seems to me I am becoming a bit of a cliché as I get older. Although the ‘getting older’ bit means I don’t really mind too much either. One activity I (erroneously) always associated with getting older is bird-watching. At the very mention I’d scuff my feet and sigh ‘boring.’ But, see, what is telling is I have always collected bird shaped objects. Much beloved of my favourite period of design: 1930’s – 1960’s and indeed after, were birds. As pattern, motif and shape. The Marion Mahler fabric. The Vistosi bird. On lots of Scandinavian ceramics and quite a bit of Hornsea too. Now the King Penguin books are feeding this growing hobby. These small books are amongst my favourite ever books. Sized to please in the hand. And on the shelf. They take up so little room you can continue to buy them for a good long while before admitting you actually collect them. My Garden Birds of 1945 came from a charity bookshop in Southport. I pack light when going to visit friends in Southport as I always come away with some pile of books.
This book has super colour illustrations of birds. Very pretty – the birds all sitting amongst roundels of blossoms and berries. The cover and frontispiece have equally super illustrations by Sylvia Varley. I like the matt paper the books are formed out of, too. The later ones have matching dustwrappers – two layers being better than one. Most of all I like the way the King Penguins have patterned or illustrated covers. Commissioned from the great and good illustrators and commercial designers of the day. I’m thinking perhaps this won’t be the last King Penguin that appears here.
Perfect, you accidentally combined 2 of my great loves; birdwatching (I was born that way) and King Penguins. The only bird-themed King Penguin I have is Birds of the Sea, with its smashing Enid Marx cover of loose and expressive seabird vignettes.
Ah, so birdwatching is genetic then. Maybe love of King Penguin books is, too?
…and you told me you wouldn’t crack and start collecting the King Penguins. It’s more likely to be an age thing, rather than genetic. By the way, there’s a second-hand book shop in The Lanes in Brighton with a full set of the books on their top shelf, just out of reach. They’re not for sale. What a tease.
I wonder if the King Penguin books inspired the Ladybird series which started just post-war, and were almost exactly this size? Clearly a different design aesthetic but often very well illustrated.
Yes but how many books constitute a collection? 1, 6, the whole set? I reserve the right to remain in denial. I am sure Ladybird were ‘inspired’ by the King Penguin and a little bit by the equally tasty Puffin Picture Books. I don’t collect them. Either.
I don’t collect Ladybird’s, though they are local to my origin (Loughborough), but by unsettling coincidence, I currently have Ladybird’s ‘Garden Birds’ face-out on my shelves! Bought me very recently by my very design/illustration/nostalgia-literate mum, it’s the errant child of your King Penguin. Unpolished charm, lacking the finishing school qualities; that’s the East Midlands for you.
Will I be able to see this when you start your blog? 🙂