the London red guides
The following information provides a broad outline
about the unique designs of the covers and spinesfor
the London guides over the years.
It should be noted that the year bands indicated
are broad indications only – occasionally the designs described
can be found outside these date ranges.
Click on an image to see a higher resolution
1861 – 1879 : Forerunner publications
The first guide that we have seen is the 1861 London
Pocket Guide, shown at left. It did not have maps
and there are very few advertisements although some
appear before and on the back cover. There are some
illlustrations, and the size is somewhat smaller (4"
x 3" approx), hence the name.
1880 - 1886 : Original varied design
The first guides were published with green paper
boards. See picture of 1881 guide.
1885 – 1892 : First classic red covers
The first red guides appeared during this period and
it is believed that the design of the London guides
was similar to the other titles in the series (with
no pictorial design on the covers).
1892 – 1902/3 : Copperplate title design
The red covers evolved, still with no pictorial
design. The London guide title was in copperplate
script inside a black box. The London editions
during this period had their publication year
included on the spine cloth.
1902/3 – 1910/11 : “Small Arms” design
These covers were plain with a black dotted
border rim, with the London guide title in capitals.
Below this, in the centre, was a small coat of arms.
The spines included a small 1/- price in a circle at
the top, and "Ward Lock & Co" at the foot. The
London editions during this period continued to have
their publication year included on the spine cloth,
but it also appeared on the front cover.
1910/11 - 1931/32 : “Large Arms in Circle” design
During this twenty-year period, the covers of the
London guides displayed a large circle with two
vertical bars, inside which was a larger coat of
arms. Until 1915, the London editions during this
period continued to have the publication year
included on both the spine cloth and the front
cover, but this practice was then discontinued. From
1924 onwards, the publication date was again printed
on the spine cloth (but not on the front cover).
Until about 1918, the spines continued to include
the price of 1/- NET, now in a square band. After
this date, this notation was removed, and the band
was blank. From 1919/20 onwards, the square band was
filled with either a single dot or four small dots.
There was no price displayed on the exterior of the
guides until 1926/27, but in this year the London
guides started to appear with the 2/6d net price
included on the front cover.
1932/33 – Early 1950s : Illustrative map design
In 1932/33, the design of the front cover of
London guide changed to a illustrative map with
various famous London landmarks (Kew Gardens,
Zoological Gardens. Regents Park, Epping Forest,
Greenwich Observatory) named in each corner. The
London guides published up to 1935 continued to
include the publication year on the spine cloth, but
the external dating was then discontinued.
Early 1950s onwards : Eros Statue design
Just after 1950, the design of the front cover of
the London edition changed again, this time to a
picture of the Statue of Eros.
From about 1952, the design changed again and
hardback board covers were introduced. For more details, see