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Ladybird Book Formats

Ladybird books, between 1940 and 1980, have had a few varying formats but have always managed to maintain a uniformed-look in size and style.

The standard pocket-sized Ladybird book is 7 inches tall and 4.75 inches wide. Each book consists of 52 pages made from one large sheet of paper measuring 40 inches by 30 inches - see picture opposite.

Some early editions had 56 pages with the extra pages carrying catalogue information and copyright dates.

The books were protected with stiff-card boards. Early editions of the first series, 401, up to series 497 are found to have a picture pasted to their front boards or were fully pictorial. Editions in series 522 and onwards are found with a more simple (often blue ink) illustration on their front boards.

A printed Ladybird book before it was folded and sewn - taken from The Story of Printing found in series 601
Pre-1965 books were all published with dust-wrappers which usually had the original price of 2'6 printed on the front inside flap. The dust-wrapper's back inside flap usually held a list of all other titles within the books series.

The Tinker's Wig

A book that breaks free from the standard Ladybird book format is the one-and-only title of series 478 entitled The Tinker's Wig.

This book was twice the size of the common Ladybird book and had 93 pages rather than the usual 52 pages.

It also broke the usual printing style by setting text on both sides of the pages and used less pictures than all the other books.

Annual size

In the late 1970s, and on later occasions, Ladybird published a few annual size books - these were not a great success and were not published in high numbers or reprinted to any great extent.

Ladybird Picture Word Book, pictured on the right, was published in 1980 and illustrated by Lynn N Grundy. The book measures 12 x 8.75 inches and has 60 pages.

Unlike all other Ladybird books this title does not belong to a series but is a one-off publication.

Mini Mention


Although we are only focusing on pre-1980s Ladybird books in this part of our website it is worth mentioning that Ladybird published a mini series of fairy tales in the 1980s. These small books were half the size of the standard Ladybird book.

Logo Formats
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 or before.
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 dust-wrappers.
Post 1961 the logo could be found in the middle of the dust-wrapper's back cover.

Perhaps the most commonly recognised Ladybird logo of all is the one shown on the left.
This logo first appeared in 1965 and was printed on the front board, usually in the top right corner and on very early matt editions it was sometimes placed in the bottom right corner. See the books above for examples of this
Other logos used by Ladybird books
logo for ladybird book This logo was introduced to Ladybird books in the early 1970s.
This logo was used on books throughout most of the 1970s and some of the 1980s .ladybird logo

Illustrated board formats

Underneath the dust-wrappers of early editions in series 401 can be found small illustrations pasted to the front boards.

See the image on the right for an example of this.
These illustrations were the same as the ones found on the dust-wrappers - these were pasted on by hand and subsequently some are found to be a little squint.

These small pasted illustrations were unique to series 401 and series 497 which included titles such as Ned the Lonely Donkey and The Conceited Lamb.
Later editions from the 1950s had the pasted illustrations replaced by a simple lined impression of the dust-wrapper illustration.

The image on the right shows the dust-wrapper and the front board of an early 1960s edition of The Green Umbrella, from series 401
The Green Umbrella from Ladybird series 401
Sometimes the lined illustrations are found in blue, green, brown or black ink.

Pictorial boards
The Story of Dick Whittington - A Ladybird book
A 3rd edition from 1950 of The Story of Dick Whittington, showing dust-wrapper and pictorial front board to be the same.
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-wrappers that protected them.

Reprints of these books kept the pictorial boards up until 1956 and then were replaced with lined illustrations instead.
Books that were printed with pictorial boards are found to have glossy pages which made them a better quality than later editions.
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Random fact

Illustrator Martin Aitchison was paid just 21 per illustration for his first book, 'A First Book of Saints' (1963) - by 1975 this had risen to 60 per illustration


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