Ing Lady­bird books turn 100 years old

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER -

lished’ date on the ti­tle page as this does not guar­an­tee you have a first edi­tion.

“But there are clues that can help. For ex­am­ple, in 1961 the Lady­bird logo changed from an open to a closed winged lady­bird while in 1965 the dust jacket was aban­doned in favour of a matt board cover.’

Charlesworth says the book’s con­di­tion is key and that a dust jacket can add ten times to the value.

Day be­lieves the al­lure of the Lady­bird books has a lot to do with their use of beau­ti­ful il­lus­tra­tions.

Among her favourite artists in­volved in bring­ing Lady­bird books to life are Martin Aitch­son, Harry Wingfield, John Berry, Robert Lum­ley and for­mer Dan Dare artist Frank Hamp­son.

Orig­i­nal art­work from th­ese il­lus­tra­tors can cost any­thing from a few hun­dred rands to more than R15 000.

Day pro­vides de­tails of avail­able art and books on her web­site Lady­bird Fly Away Home. “The colour­ful il­lus­tra­tions cer­tainly cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of in­quis­i­tive minds but it was not un­til the 1960s that Lady­bird really took ad­van­tage of this with more ed­u­ca­tional books – and this helped boost their ap­peal.”

There is no mar­ket in mod­ern Lady­bird books. Sadly, by the 1980s pho­to­graphs in­stead of il­lus­tra­tions started to be used and de­mand for Lady­birds fell.


First edi­tion book 1964. Peter and Jane – plus Pat the dog. Au­thor was ed­u­ca­tion ad­viser Wil­liam Mur­ray and early artist Harry Wingfield.

First pub­lished in 1953 in only a small print run. Writ­ten by Ge­orge Mur­ray and il­lus­trated by Xenia Berke­ley. Fol­lowed ad­ven­tures of Ho­race the horse. Only story in the se­ries and just three edi­tions printed. – Mail On Sun­day

MAZING: He­len Day is the owner of 1 500 Lady­bird books.

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