Classic children’s books known as Ladybird Books are featured on a new set of stamps issued September 14 by Great Britain’s Royal Mail.
The publishing house traces its roots to 1867, but became a true brand in 1940 when Wills and Hepworth’s publication of what is considered its first title: Bunnikin’s Picnic Party: A Story in Verse for Children with Illustrations in Colour. The book featured stories in verse written by W. Perring, accompanied by full-color illustrations by A. J. (Angusine Jeanne) MacGregor.
With paper rationing in force at the start of World War II, the business designed a pocket-sized hardback of 56 pages that could be produced from a single sheet. The size was 7 inches by 4 5/8 inches and the classic format was born. The publisher found this was an economical way of producing books, enabling the books to be retailed at a low price which, for almost 30 years, remained at two shillings and sixpence.
Since then, the publisher has released more than 650 titles with its heyday of production in the 1960s and ’70s. Ladybird began publishing books in other formats in 1980. Most of the remaining titles in the classic format were withdrawn from print in 1999, when the factory in Loughborough which specialized in this format closed.
The eight stamps — two each of differing denominations — are printed as se-tenant pairs. Three books are shown on each stamp, 24 in all. Each stamp shows a different category of books: Achievements, Adventures from History, Early Tales and Rhymes, Hobbies and How it Works, Key Words Reading Scheme, Nature and Conservation, People at Work, and Well-loved Tales.
Each stamp measures 41 millimeters by 30 millimeters and are printed via lithography by International Security Printers. Royal Mail is selling the stamps via several products, including first-day covers, a souvenir sheet, and presentation pack.
More information is available at the Royal Mail website.