Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Some Rare Penguin Books??

It seems I have found a soul mate and partner in crime regarding Penguin collecting in the small country shed bookshop in  Kempton, Tasmania.  (Previous post about this shop here.) Phil who has had the shop for years has told me he is really enjoying helping me find Penguin books and he is digging them out of the woodwork of both his shed and his home. I wouldn't be surprised if he has boxes of them buried in the back paddock.

I rode Sidney Scooter up there a couple of weeks ago and the box I had been filling up, keeping there because he only has facilities for cash and I had none on me at the time, was even fuller when I went back.  I told him I would look at anything he has and he has taken it to heart.

This man's shop really is a little goldmine of many second hand books. If you're ever near Kempton, Tasmania, be sure to drop in on him.  Ask anyone in the town where he is located.  There is a sign on the door of the shed that simply states, "Ring bell, enter and I'll be with you soon."  He then walks over from the house.  He is quite elderly but his mind knows as much about the old books as anyone you'll meet in this trade.

We spent more than an hour just talking books and I ended up with quite a scooter load and not only Penguins.

This is the latest "Second Hand Book Loot."   I doubt I'll come across any of these again in Australia.

The first book here is The Reader's Guide described as

"A panel of distinguished scholars and scientists advise you how and what to read in Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, Belles Lettres, Biography, Classics,  History, Music Natural History, Novels,  Philosophy, Plays, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Science and Sociology.  This planned syllabus for profitable reading contains over 1899 descriptive recommendations of the essential books in all these fields of knowledge and interest. 

It then proceeds to list all of the contributors. Edited by Sir William Emrys Williams and published in 1960 in Penguin's Pelican Books.

America The Vincible was published as a Penguin Special Book in 1959 by Emmet John Hughes.
It is described as a Study of America's role in World Affairs.  Interestingly enough although written by an American about America, due to copyright reasons this edition was not offered for sale in the U.S.A. or Canada. Could this be why American's don't always realise what the rest of the world thinks of them? :-)

Science News is part of a series. I don't know off hand how many books were published in this series. I have a set of the Penguin Biology series and the binding is similar to this one. This book was published in 1947 and is number 3 of the series. It contains articles about The Testing of Intelligence, Synthetic Emeralds, The History of Blood Transfusion as well as some updates on the agricultural front, the medical front and an announcement that Colour Photography Has Arrived. There are other articles that have as interesting titles as the rest of this edition.  It certainly goes a long ways towards showing us how far we have come ion many fronts.

I find these the two following editions extremely interesting as they are the Penguin Hansard reports.
No 1 is From Chamberlain to Churchill and No. 2 is The National Front.  It is the verbatim account from the House of Commons Official Report of Parliamentary Debates and both were published in 1940.  The content includes information regarding the beginnings of World War II and are certainly an interesting history that was available to the public at the time.

While I am on the topic of World War II these two Penguin Specials are also from that era. Britain by Mass Observation was published in 1939 and Genevieve's Tabouis's Blackmail or War were published in 1938.

The following three Penguins are related more to the leisure activities in Sport and Music.  My book seller pulled the 60 Seasons of League Football off his desk and handed it to me with what I can only describe as reverence.  He asked me if I would be at all interested in anything like this.  "Yes absolutely" was my chortled reply.  I doubt there would be many copies of this book in Australia so it will be a great addition to the overall collection.  Published in 1958 it is Penguin Special No S 171.  Part One describes the League and its History; Part Two is a record of the chief records of all the League clubs, past and present, from Abedare Athletic to York City and Part Three is full of the Final League Tables: from 1888- 1958. 
There is a bibliography and index at the end of the book.

Next in line are two copies of Penguin Music Magazine published in 1946 Number I. The magazine has articles in it related to the following:

  • The Future of Opera in England
  • Music Inspired by Painting
  • Soviet Music in War-Time
  • Standards of Performance
  • An argument about What is the Purpose of Music Part I

There are also articles about new books, new music, record collections, music on the air and finishes up with articles about Opera in London, Ballet in London and Concerts in London at the time.

This last entry of Beethoven's Music Score probably isn't quite as rare but very difficult to find as well especially in Australia. There was a beautiful series of these published of various classical music scores. This one entitled Beethoven:  Coriolan and Egmont was Penguin Scores III and published in 1949.

I have two other very interesting Penguin Specials that I will post up in another post. They are about a current event that happened in the UK of great prominence but as they were handed to me with many newspaper articles clipped out of UK papers regarding the event I want to go through them and do a proper post about them.

These interesting books are just another reason why collecting old Penguin books is such a challenging and gratifying past time.  It is just so exciting to come across the wonderful variety that Penguin books that are now an important part of our social history.


  1. How lovely to find someone who shares your quest. I hardly ever see old Penguins, around even the regular orange covers from the 1980s are disappearing. I'd love to find something for your collection, or Karyn's.

    1. Thanks Lisa. All of the Penguins Karyn and I both collect are from before 1970 which is when founder Allen Lane died. We always love learning about new Penguins. Karyn and I have swapped a few. Thanks for your interest. It is very much appreciated. Pam

  2. Some great finds Pam. I am particularly intrigued by the Penguin Hansards. Frances


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