From 1915 to 1938
Wills & Hepworth printed a variety of large children's
books. The production of these books had been confined to
filling in ‘machine time’ in between large colour
printing commissions for car manufactureres Austin and Rover,
and the likes.
Most of these early books, which were published under the
imprint 'A Ladybird Series', had full colour pictorial front
boards and cloth spines. Some would have a colour frontis,
others would not, some were produced with cheap 'soup' paper
(that similar to a child's colouring book) while others used
'untearable' woven cloth paper, some simply carried plain
black line illustrations where the better quality editions
were printed with full colour lithographs.
It is not known how many books were published by Wills &
Hepworth bewteen 1915 and the 1930s as no company records
were kept to detail this, but I can estimate that a few titles
were printed each year which would perhaps imply that almost
100 titles may have been produced.
The book on the
left entitled 'Nursery Tales' was published by Wills &
Hepworth in 1915 and is believed to be one of the very
first books they ever published.
It contained a number of popular fairy tales including
Dick Whittington and his Cat, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella
and Red Riding Hood.
Some of the illustrations in this book were produced by
the popular artist Rene Cloke.
A list of known Pre-1940 'Ladybird
Series' books The entries below describes each title.
Do you have
a pre-1940 Ladybird book not listed above? If so,
why not send us details and a scan of the front
cover so we can add it to our database. Thanks.
Collecting Pre-1940 'Ladybird Series' books
Collecting pre-1940 Wills & Hepworth titles is fairly
difficult as they rarely turn up for sale. Every couple
of months one or two appear on eBay for sale but most
seem to be in quite poor condition yet can still sometimes
fetch £30 - £40.
Some of the better quality books, in particular the 'untearable'
editions that are printed in high colour can fetch between
£80 - £120 depending on the title - the train
and motor titles reach the best prices as there is competition
from railway and car centhusiasts.
Ocassionally the old Wills & Hepworth books turn up
at book fairs and book sales around the country, and can
sometimes be picked up for as little as a few pounds each.
Not a lot of dealers and sellers recognise these books
as part of Ladybird and therefore price them at the same
price as other cheaply made children's books form the