Vintage Color & Design: Penguin & Pelican Books

Another lovely flickr set from Joe Kral inspired this post (the last one can be seen here). This time we’re taking a look at classic book design from his Penguin & Pelican Collection set.

From the outset, design was essential to the success of the Penguin brand. Eschewing the illustrated gaudiness of other paperback publishers, Penguin opted for the simple appearance of three horizontal bands, the upper and lower of which were colour coded according to which series the title belonged to; this is sometimes referred to as the horizontal grid. In the central white panel, the author and title were printed in Eric Gill’s sans serif and in the upper band was a cartouche with the legend “Penguin Books”. The initial design was created by the then twenty-one-year-old office junior Edward Young, who also drew the first version of the Penguin logo.

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Rabbit, Run MInd you, I've said

The color schemes included: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, red and white for travel and adventure, blue and white for biographies; and the rarer purple and white for essays and belles lettres and grey and white for world affairs. Lane actively resisted the introduction of cover images for several years. Some recent publications of literature from that time have duplicated the original look.

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Frued & the Posts Psychiatry To-day

Between 1947 and 1949, the Swiss typographer Jan Tschichold redesigned 500 Penguin books, and left Penguin with a set of influential rules of design principles brought together as the Penguin Composition Rules, a four page booklet of typographic instructions for editors and compositors. Tschichold’s work included the woodcut illustrated covers of the classics series (also known as the medallion series), and with Hans Schmoller, his eventual successor at Penguin, the vertical grid covers that became the standard for Penguin fiction throughout the 1950s.

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Brave New WorldATTITUDES

New techniques such as phototypesetting and offset-litho printing were to replace hot metal and letterpress printing, dramatically reducing cost and permitting the printing of images and text on the same paper stock, thus paving the way for the introduction of photography and novel approaches to graphic design on paperback covers.

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Pearls, a nuisance Closed Circuit

Beginning with the crime series, Germano Facetti canvassed the opinion of a number of designers including Romek Marber for a new look to the Penguin cover. It was Marber’s suggestion of what came to be called the Marber grid along with the retention of traditional Penguin color coding that was to replace the previous three horizontal bars design and set the pattern for the design of the company’s paperbacks for the next twenty years. Facetti rolled out the new treatment across the Penguin line starting with crime, the orange fiction series, then Pelicans, Penguin Modern Classics, Penguin Specials, and Penguin Classics, giving an overall visual unity to the company’s list. A somewhat different approach was taken to the Peregrine, Penguin Poets, Penguin Modern Poets, and Penguin Plays series. There were over a hundred different series published in total.

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The Man on the Rock Political sociology

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Islam Book Heine

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Wikipedia: Penguin Books

Author: evad
David Sommers has been loving color as COLOURlovers' Blog Editor-in-Chief for the past two years. When he's not neck deep in a rainbow he's loving other things with The Post Family (http://thepostfamily.com/), a Chicago-based art blog, artist collective & gallery.