Friday, August 26, 2011

King Penguin Books at Ben Pentreath Ltd.

If you're not familiar with Ben Pentreath, by all means go visit his website right away. (After reading my blog post, of course!) In addition to owning his own interiors and architectural practice, Ben also has a very cool shop in the heart of London's Bloomsbury. (The shop is run by the stylish Bridie Hall.) Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit the shop in person, but plan to do so on my next trip to the UK.

In Ben's email
newsletter, he wrote about his collection of vintage King Penguin Books. According to Ben, 76 of these books were published in the UK between 1939 and 1959. The subject matter ranges from "Animals in Staffordshire Pottery" to "Life in an English Village". I guess that I've been living under a rock because I had never even heard of these books before. What I'm most taken with are the books' cover art. Have you ever seen a series of books with such charming covers?

I'm showing some of Ben's photos below so that you can the illustrations for yourself. "Tulipomania" would look awfully nice stacked on a side table in my apartment. Then again, "Popular English Art" would add a little color to one of my tableaux. I even have a feeling that the text inside is just as interesting as the cover.

A selection of these vintage books is for sale at Ben Pentreath's shop. To inquire, email

All images courtesy of Ben Pentreath Ltd.


  1. I have a couple of these tucked away somewhere. These little, well-designed collector's volumes seem to be a specialty of Great Britain; check out the Shire series.
    --Road to Parnassus

  2. Charming. I'll take one of each, thank you- being one
    of those people who judges books by their covers.

  3. Oh I LOVE these!! I'm going to London next month for the design festival - if I have time, I'll definitely try to stop by - looks marvelous!!

  4. I echo Parnussus ... I have four King Penguins: Ackermann's Cambridge (a history of Cambridge with paintings 20 colour plates by Rudolph Ackermann (first published 1951); A Book of Scripts (1949); Medieval Carvings in Exeter Cathedral (1953); and Misericords (1954). As with Shire Books, which first came a decade later, they are excellent short histories of their subjects. Do check out Shire Books

    Ben Pentreath's home is shown in the book FARROW & BALL, LIVING WITH COLOUR by Ros Byam Shaw.

    I just love that Venetian Carnival design - is it paper or fabric, or both? I should love that in our small shower room - I wouldn't change the suite, it is champagne (a sort of cream) colour but with a dark floor this design would look great!

    Margaret P

  5. i find these occasionally at BT, and save them for my collection.


    wv: maupe... a new shade of mauve.

  6. I've not visited the shop either, but have ordered intaglios online. I have communicated per email with Birdie, and she is quite delightful!