Dedicated to old Ladybird books - 1914 -1975

The Pilgrim Fathers, 1963, Series 561

The Pilgrim Fathers was the 29th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.

Correspondence exists between Peach and Kenney that shows a joking concern that the book might lack ‘glamour’ and jocular pleas from Peach that Kenney make the ‘Pilgrim Mothers’ as attractive as possible!  Sadly, this was the be the last book in the long collaboration between these two men; Kenney died in the year this book was published and Peach died two years later.

This copy:

Matt boards.  A decent copy of this hard-to-find title. There’s a scuff on the spine which has obscured a large part of the title and a couple of corners are very rubbed (see photos).  Inside it’s a nice, clean copy.  An early edition, it dates to the early-1970s with a tally number of 320 and has the original price of 15p.

 

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The Silver Arrow (Robin Hood), 1954 Series 549

The Silver Arrow, 1954,  Series 549. A Ladybird Robin Hood Adventure

There were only ever really two books in this series, although in the 1970s another 4 Robin Hood adventure books were added.  These later books were in a different format and with different style illustrations.  The illustrations in the original two books (The Silver Arrow and The Ambush) are super-evocative.  These were probably the first two books ever illustrated by John Kenney for Ladybird and the colours sing – and both were originally issued with dustwrappers.  The stories were retold by Max Kester.  A tip for collectors is not to fall into the trap of thinking you have found a book inscribed by the author.  All editions of these stories (and some othrers of the same era) contain a reproduced signature that looks very real.

This matt copy dates to the mid 1970s and was originally priced at 24p.  Someone has gone mad with a library stamp and stamped the date (15th August 1977) about 60 times on the back endpapers.  There’s also a neat inscription on the front endpapers.  But the contents pages are in very good condition.

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Through-the-Ages: Food

‘Through the Ages’ Food was the first of the two ‘Through the Ages’ books, series 606f.  It was written by Muriel Goaman and was illustrated by Frank Hampson.  As ever, Hampson brings his vivid imagination to the story, creating drama and humour to the scenes of the book.  There is some evidence to suggest that this book was first illustrated by John Kenney – so why it was  then re-illustrated by Hampson, is still unclear.

This copy:

Matt boards.  It is just about in good condition although there’s a lot of wear to the spine.  Open it up, however, and you will find a nice clean copy.  It dates from the early 1970s and has an original price of 15p on the back.

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Tootles the Taxi, 1956 (DJ)

Tootles the Taxi was the 9th book to be published in series 413 – the second series of Ladybird books ever produced.  The 413 series is quite a  random mixture of tales and rhymes – but all for pre-school children.   Tootles, written by Joyce Clegg, turned out to be one of Ladybird’s best-loved and bestselling books of all time.  It is made by the superb John Kenney illustrations.  Kenney illustrated Tootles at around the same time as he illustrated some of the Railway Series book (Thomas the Tank Engine).  The Rev. Awdry was particularly pleased with Kenney’s illustrations of his series – but Kenney’s skills weren’t confined to jaunty pictures of vehicles with faces.  He also illustrated The Circus Comes to Town, Robin Hood and most of the History series for Ladybird.  In such high regard was this book held that, in 1999, when the Ladybird factory was closed down, all employees were given a special, souvenir edition of this book as a parting gift.

This copy:

This copy still has its original duswrapper.  It’s quite hard to find Tootles in good condition because it was such a well-loved book but, although it has its faults, this book is in remarkable condition.  There’s very little sign of wear even to the dustwrapper and the book is also in great condition.  However, there’s a scratch and a pen mark top left of the DJ panel (see photo).   There are also several pen marks on the inside DJ flap and the odd mark/foxing to the first few pages.  This copy has a close-wing logo and white endpapers so I would date it to the early 1960s.

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Tootles the Taxi, 1956 (Matt)

Tootles the Taxi was the 9th book to be published in series 413 – the second series of Ladybird books ever produced.  The 413 series is quite a  random mixture of tales and rhymes – but all for pre-school children.   Tootles, written by Joyce Clegg, turned out to be one of Ladybird’s best-loved and bestselling books of all time.  It is made by the superb John Kenney illustrations.  Kenney illustrated Tootles at around the same time as he illustrated some of the Railway Series book (Thomas the Tank Engine).  The Rev. Awdry was particularly pleased with Kenney’s illustrations of his series – but Kenney’s skills weren’t confined to jaunty pictures of vehicles with faces.  He also illustrated The Circus Comes to Town, Robin Hood and most of the History series for Ladybird.  In such high regard was this book held that, in 1999, when the Ladybird factory was closed down, all employees were given a special, souvenir edition of this book as a parting gift.

This copy:

This is a matt edition.  It’s quite hard to find Tootles in good condition because it was such a well-loved book.  This one has been well-loved and is very worn at the edges and on the back cover.  There’s also a sticker on the front endpapers (see photos).  Inside, however, the reading pages are in good condition, with only minor blemishes.   It dates to the early 1970s and has an original price of 15p on the back.

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Warwick the Kingmaker, 1966, Series 561

Warwick the Kingmaker was the 21st title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  This book was never issued with a dustwrapper.

The Wars of the Roses is complicated.  This book does it’s best and it tells a good tale – but I’m still confused about it all.  Writer Peach is clearly fond of Warwick and contorts the telling to keep him as some sort of hero.

But the artwork in this one is something else!  Even by Kenney’s own high standards, he excels himself.

This book is an ex-library book so has the expected signs of stamps, tickets and heavy wear (see photos) – fair condition only.  That said, the reading pages are very good. With a tally number of 150 and originally priced at 2/6, I believe it to be a first edition.

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William the Conqueror, 1956, Series 561 (DJ)

William the Conqueror was the second title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  Early editions (before 1965) were issued with a dustwrapper.

In this colourful telling of the life and times of Alfred, writer L du Garde Peach and artist John Kenney trace the story told by the Bayeux Tapestry – from both William’s and Harold’s point of view.  Peach tries half-heartedly to make us appreciate William as a leader, but it didn’t work on my son, who always referred to this book as ‘William Smeg-head’.

This copy:

It still has its original DJ in very condition – a little foxed but not price-clipped.  There’s a name on the inside- front DJ flap.  Inside the book has blue, open-wing endpapers.  The pages are clean and fresh looking.

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William the Conqueror, 1956, Series 561 (matt)

William the Conqueror was the second title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  Early editions (before 1965) were issued with a dustwrapper.

In this colourful telling of the life and times of Alfred, writer L du Garde Peach and artist John Kenney trace the story told by the Bayeux Tapestry – from both William’s and Harold’s point of view.  Peach tries half-heartedly to make us appreciate William as a leader, but it didn’t work on my son, who always referred to this book as ‘William Smeg-head’.

This copy:

Matt boards.  Excellent condition inside and out but for some brown residue marks on the front and back free endpapers, where once upon a time a cover must have been held in place by long-gone tape.  A pity about the marks, but this explains the otherwise lovely condition.  This copy dates to the early 1960s and has the original revised price of 2/6 printed inside.

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