your Ladybird editions
The First Edition Finder on the right is a new
addition to The Wee Web.
Some information may be missing but will be added as soon
If you spot any mistakes whilst using our First Edition
Finder, then please do let us know.
|Please Note: This first edition
identifier is for Ladybird books printed between
1940 and 1980 ONLY
to identifying your editions
people believe that if a Ladybird
book states "First published 19XX" and has no other
date then it will be a first edition - this couldn't be further
from the truth!
Unlike many publishers, Wills &
Hepworth did not have any method for stating whether
a book was a first edition or not - but there are some guidelines
and clues to help you identify a first edition.
Wee have given some guidelines and clues as to how to spot a
first edition - for the sake of simplicity we have split this
into two parts.
before starting - it can be a very tricky process
determining whether a Ladybird book is indeed a first edition.
The guidelines we offer below must be cross-referenced
to give you an accurate dating of your book.
In most cases it will be possible to date your book quite
accurately, but occasionally you will come across a book that
will be hard to date accurately as there are no steadfast
rules to Ladybird's printing history.
After reading our advice below, you still haven't managed
to date your book then please feel free to ask our expert
pre-1965 first editions
All Ladybird books prior to 1965
were published with dust-wrappers, most of which had the
price of 2'6 Net printed on the inside front flap. On
some of the first editions from the series of the 1940s
there was no mention of price.
The price of 2'6 remained constant for 29 years.
Most Ladybird books with dust-wrappers
have a list of other books on the back inside flap. This
list shows the other books that are to be found within
that particular series.
If your books' title appears last on the list, or not
at all, then this is strong indication that it could be
a first edition. This is NOT to say that if your title
is last on the list that you definately have a first edition
- there are other issue points to consider!
An example of this exception is demonstrated with the
image opposite - the title of this book is Smoke
and Fluff - note that this title does not
appear in the list and therefore could be presumed to
be a first edition - BUT it's not! This is actually a
fifth edition from 1947 as this is stated on the front
your book is somewhere within the list and not the last
entry then you definitely do NOT have a first edition
A few early ladybird books had
their titles first printed in white - these were changed
to black in later printings. The titles that were originally
published with white titles are:
William the Conqueror, British
Birds and their Nests, King Alfred the Great, The Silver
Arrow, The Child of the Temple, The Story of Daniel
Little Lord Jesus.
If you have any of the above titles and they
have white titling, and are last in the list of the back
flap, then it is safe to say they are first editions.
Up until 1961 Wills &
Hepworth used the open-winged Ladybird logo on their
books - an example of this can be seen on the left.
If your book has this logo then it is from 1961
In 1961 the logo was changed to the closed-winged
Ladybird, which can be seen on the right. If your
book has this logo then it is from 1961 or later.
Both these logos are usually found in the middle
of the front flyleaf opposite the title page as
well as at the top of the back inside flap of the
1961 the logo could be found in the middle of the
dust-wrapper's back cover.
Ladybird books can also be approximately
dated by examining their endpapers. Below are the examples
of different endpapers, and the period of time in which
they were used.
If the endapers are pictorial (have a
drawing, rather than pattern) and have no colouring
to them then your book is most likely from 1953
Some post-1953 Ladybird books did have pictorial
endpapers but these were printed in colour ink.
image above shows the pictorial endpapers of a 1947
edition of Smoke and Fluff.
The illustration to the back endpaper often differed
to the front one.
Brown open-winged Endpapers
The first patterned endpapers was the brown,
open-winged ladybird of which an example can be
seen on the right.
This style of endpaper was used between 1953 and
1960, so if your book has this pattern to it then
your book is dated sometime between these dates.
Ladybird started to use blue ink for the open-winged
endpapers in 1956 and continued this through to
1961. This meant there was an overlap of four years
where both patterned endpapers were being used.
the book has blue patterned endpapers like the image
on the left then it can be dated from somewhere
between 1956 and 1961.
boards were found under the dust-wrappers of early
editions of the 401 and the 497 series. In these
editions have a small picture, that was usually
the same illustration as that on the dust-wrapper,
pasted to it's front board inside a black-lined
boards and pastedowns
The book on the left shows the dust-wrapper
and the front board of a 1947 edition of Smoke
The image on the far left is the dust-wrapper
and the other is the book's front board.
you look closely you'll see that the picture
pasted to the front board is slightly squint
- this was common as these were pasted-on
If your 401 title is one of the first 18 titles
/ first 10 of series 497, and it doesn't have a
small picture pasted to the front board, then you
don't have a first edition.
IDENTIFYING FIRST EDITIONS FROM SERIES 401
A good way to identifying a first edition Ladybird
book from series 401 or 497 is to check that it
matches the following issue points:
should have a dust-wrapper
||Your book should have
a small picture pasted on the front board
- the illustration is the same image that
appears on the dust-wrapper.
||Your book should be
the last title listed on the rear flap of
the dust-wrapper, or not listed at all
||Your book should have
black & white pictorial endpapers (not
||The pages of your
book should be creamy in colour and NOT white
||The text on the spine
of your book, of both the book itself and
it's dust-wrapper should be written from bottom
||Your book should
state "First published, 19XX" on
the front endpaper, or mention no date at
||Your book should
have a catalogue page, or pages, at the rear
of the book showing books in other Ladybird
||Your book should have the original.'open-winged'
Ladybird logo (shown above under the section
DATING the LOGOS), or none at all?
If your book from series 401 and 497 matches the
above issue points then it is a first edition.
413, 455, 474 and series 538 were
published with full picture boards that were gloss-coated
- the illustrations on the front boards were identical
to the dust-wrapper that protected them. Reprints of these
books kept the pictorial boards up until 1956 and then
were replaced with lined illustrations instead. This was
all to do with cutting production costs.
pictorial front boards
the text on the spines from bottom to top but in 1959
changed this to follow the practice of most publishers
and started printing the titles from top to bottom. All
editions that have the writing on the spine running from
bottom to top are from 1959 or earlier.
From early 1941 up to 1957 Ladybird books were published
with a catalogue page, or pages, at the rear of
the book which were used to advertise other books
in the series, as well as some of their other series.
The catalogue page oppisite is from a 1947 edition
of Smoke and Fluff
and is an example of how we can date a
book to within a year using the logic below.
Notice the last title in series 413 is Bedtime
Rhymes - We know this title was first
published in 1946. We also know that the next title
in this series wasn't published until 1949.
last title in series 417 is The
Secret - We know this title was first
published in 1945. We also know that the next title
in this series wasn't published until May 1948.
The only title in series 455 is In
Green Patures - We know this title was
first published in 1945. We also know that the next
title in this series wasn't published until 1948.
Therefore by noting the original publishing dates
of the last titles in each series, and by knowing
the publishing dates of the books that followed
in each series, we can approximate the date of our
copy of 'Smoke and Fluff' to be from 1947 - this
is clarified by the printing history on the front
flyleaf which states:
First published 1941
Fifth Edition 1947.
Some early editions were
produced with dates and printing edition status.
This information was found on the third page.
published in 1940 and 1941 tend not to have any
dates on their first editions ie; series 401, 413
and 417. However on later editions they would have
the copyright info printed as like in the above
'matt' editions (1965 - 1980)
From 1965 onwards all Ladybird books were no longer published
with dust-wrappers, but instead were produced with matt-finished
pictorial boards. Later in the 1980s Ladybird started
producing glossy pictorial boards for their books.
It is worth noting that the Key
Words Reading Scheme books 1a - 9a and
1b - 3b were all printed in 1964 and had matt pictorial
boards. So the first ever matt Ladybird book was Play
With Us (1a), published in 1964.
A word before starting - it can be a
tricky process determining whether a Ladybird book is
indeed a first edition. The guidelines we offer below
must be cross-referenced to give you an accurate dating
of your book.
|An example of
a tally number found printed on the back of
a matt ladybird book
dating between 1963 and 1974 can be partially dated
by checking the 'Tally Number' (number of editions
published so far) - this can be found on the bottom
of the rear board (see picture above).
You can partially date any Ladybird book
published between 1963 and 1974 by looking at the
tally numbers and referencing them using the following
table - however the original price must be cross-referenced
to give an accurate dating:
A WORD of WARNING
Do NIOT date your book by Tally number alone - you
must also make sure that the original price matches
the date of the Tally Number. You will also need
to look at the list on the rear of the board to
see if the title you are identifying is the last
title listed, or not lited at all.
A good example that demontrates that Tally Numbers
should NOT be used as the only indicator when identifying
the date of a book, can be seen in the following
We have on our desk a copy of 'The Sailor' from
series 606b which was originally published in 1967
- our copy has on the rear board Tally Number 340
which would imply that this edition was printed
in 1973. However taking a closer look at the rear
board we notice the original price is 30p - it wasn't
until 1978 that Ladybird books wre priced at 30p
so it would be accurate to date this edition to
As with tally numbers you
can also date your book to an approx year by looking
at the original price on the book.
In 1965 when matt editions first appeared the original
price on the books was 2'6 Net - this price continued
for the next 4 years when in 1969 prices changed
due to decimalisation. some books from 1969 can
therefore be found to have two prices, 2'6 and 121/2
the left you can see a book that was published
sometime between February and May in 1971
the price on 2'6 Net matt editions could be
found on the inside board or on the front
you'll find a book to have a black square
stamped on to the cover. This is where the
price has been revised.
on the left shows the single price of 2'6
Net which was stamped onto the back board.
Occasionally on some early books you will not find
a price at all.
The price on a book does NOT accurately indicate the year
that it was printed, but it can give you an approximation
- you must cross-reference the original price with the
Tally Number and Title List shown on the rear board
The table below shows the price found on Ladybird books
in different years.
- February 1971
1971 - May 1971
June 1971 - 30 April
May 1974 - 15 June 1975
June 1975 - 10 January 1978
January 1978 - 24 June 1979
June 1979 - 31 December 1980
January 1981 - 30 June 1982
July 1982 - 31 December 1983
January 1984 - 31 December 1985
January 1985 - 31 December 1986
January 1987 - 31 December 1987
January 1988 - 31 December 1988
January 1 1989
To determine whether your 'matt' Ladybird book is a first
edition you must check that the Tally Number and Original
Price correspond to the date your book was originally
published - the title of your book should also be the
last title listed on the rear board, or not listed at
all. If these three points match then you have a firt
your 'matt' edition a first edition?
Ladybird illusrators, Robert Ayton, Martin Aitchison, Frank Hampson and Frank Humphris had previously produced artwork for the'Eagle' - a popular boys comic famous for it's 'Dan Dare' strip