1900's cover

1920's cover

1940's cover

1960's cover

1960's dust jacket

clues for dating red guides

If you have looked at an older Ward Lock red guide, you may have found it difficult to detect the publication date.  Don't worry, you aren't alone! Quite often, books for sale are described as "undated". That is why we have put together this set of clues to help pinpoint the date of your books or prospective purchases. If you click on the following underlined links some illustrated examples will pop-up.

Some guides, specifically London, have the date explicitly on the cover and spine .   The cover design changed (as left) but this is more a clue to the decade rather than year of publication. Later guides (1950's and on), having red and yellow paper dust wrappers, typically have a copyright date in the first few pages of the guide. Many more of the earlier guides have the date at the foot of the first or an early page of the advertisements at the rear of the book, after the index, and sometimes in the front advert section, if there is one.

Failing that, you may find general date clues inside the advertisements themselves, or in references in the text of the guide, or from some of the photographs , which may have datable subjects such as period motor vehicles.

Sometimes an original owner may have made a dated inscription inside the cover, which may help to confirm other indicating clues but cannot be relied upon as the actual publication date, since it could have been inscribed at any time.

For the financially astute,  prices given in the advertisements give some clue to confirm the period, if not the exact year.  At some point in the future we may try to catalogue some of these revealing prices and their corresponding dates.  Meantime,  you may find it useful in dating your guides to review the summary checklist below and the covers and spines page.


Summary of Red Guide publication date clues

Printed on the cover or spine?  (unlikely, but the spine and cover give a general clue to the publication era - see chart ).

At the foot of one of the first pages of advertisements at the back of the book

At the foot of one of the advertisement pages at the front of the book, if any

If it has a dust jacket, is there a copyright date at foot of one of the front pages

Explicitly within the text of some advertisements themselves

Within the text of the book explicitly, by referring to recent dates

An owner's dated inscription

The context of advertisement or guide text - e.g.. reference to places or events that exist in a given time frame - e.g.. during World-War II

Other general dating clues, such as vehicles, costume and fashion , etc. in illustrations and advertisements