Sunday 25 March 2012

The Unappreciated 20 Cent Penguin

I think one of the worst things about Penguin book collecting is seeing how non collector Penguin book people react to them.  On one hand of the spectrum is the second hand bookshop seller that sees a particular Penguin they haven't come across much, like a cerise one or they have heard a rumour and they immediately think they can sell if for a very inflated price.  One example were the two unemployed men who work at the Tip Shop Collectables.  They 'heard' that one of the orange Penguins they found should have been a blue Penguin as it was a Travel and Adventure book.  Actually the book they referred to should have been a cerise one (pink) because it was a Travel and Adventure book. Blue Penguins are for biographies. This book was not a biography.  The book was coming apart at the seams, was in a terrible condition, filthy, covered in writing and smelled badly. It was marked at $10.00. Penguins at the tip shop are normally $1.00 or less. 
Number 217,  1940

Some "wisenstein ** " did not know that yes the book was printed with the wrong colour cover but just as many of them were printed as the other numbers on either side of this one so it wasn't rare. It was simply a mistake.  Fortunately it wasn't a book I wanted so I did not argue with them once I told them and they looked at me as if I had no brain or education in the area.  Nothing worse than someone who professes to know everything about a topic but once they open their mouth the wrong words come out.

Last week I completed my weekly rounds of the Op shops (Vinnies and Red Cross) and I found several beautiful old first published Penguins in a pretty good condition, one in particular in the 20 cent bin.

Vinnie's gets wonderful books in but they are sorted by a very dodgy character who hoards books in his own home and having had several rounds of the "Start Playing Fair game and stop putting every first edition known to man in the boot of your car when noone is looking" things have settled down a bit.  I hear the manager has since caged him in the back with a line he is not allowed to walk over.

Vinnies has 5 levels of shelves.  New books go onto the top shelves, each week all books are moved one shelf down. Books at the bottom of the shelf are moved to the 20 cent bin. Books not sold from the 20 cent bin are sent to landfill.

Pelican first A 475 - 1960
The books I 'rescued' last week from the 20 cent bin were all first published Penguin books. So I was pleased with the few I purchased. I may not ever get a chance to read them, some are pretty hard going but at least they won't go into landfill and will be part of my overall Penguin collection of first published titles.

Today I will share those books I found.  Tomorrow I shall have finished the Penguin book I am now reading and will post up a review.  I need to get cracking on the Century of Books Challenge. I laugh every time I think of it but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Happy reading. 

 **Wisenstein- my word for someone who thinks they know everything in a particular area but don't really know the first thing about what they are saying
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
No. L 54- Penguin Classics 1st

No. 2848- 1968
a rather boring cover 
Inscription on inside of book The Imitation of Christ
Number L 27 - first published Penguin Classic 1952
A well travelled book published in England, Nigerian address
 found in Tasmania.


  1. I am new to your fascinating blog. I have toyed with collecting Penguins in the past, but then my OCD kicks in and I realize I would probably find it more overwhelming than fun. Espeically after I decided two years when I was in London to collect all 100 of the Great Ideas series published for Penguin's 75th. (I blogged about it in November 2010). Anyhoo, looking over your blog, I am reminded of an experience I had on my first trip to England in 1989 when I was 19. I was staying at a B&B in Glouscester and the bookshelf in my room was nothing but vintage Penguins. Three shelves of identical orange and white spines. There had to be about a hundred of them. At the time, my reading tastes were not what they are now, and my knowledge of Penguin was pretty much non-existant, so I wasn't sure what to make of all these books. Still, being a reader, I combed through the titles and I don't think I recognized any of them or even many of the authors. Twenty-some years later I wish I could see what was on those shelves again. I would no doubt find something I would like to read.

    1. Relating to the OCD comment here. Imagining all those books at the B & B too. I sometimes when I am watching a British tv show or film I get distracted by Penguins I see on the bookshelf behind the actor. Thank you for visiting my site.

    2. I meant to say, I have the first 60 Great Ideas books. The first 40 were in a boxed set and then for some reason Penguin produced the rest as single releases. I was disappointed when they stopped putting them in boxed sets. They are lovely little books.


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