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.

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front             back

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.

London 1908

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.

 London 1923 London Exhibition 1925

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.

London c.1950

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.

Later editions

From about 1952, the design changed again and hardback board covers were introduced. For more details, see Later Editions.

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