The Penguin Poets redesign by Jan Tschichold (1948)

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15/12/10 – Two early examples of titles from the Penguin Poets series: (left) John Overton’s [?] original design of 1946 and (right) Jan Tschichold’s reformed design of 1951.

The Penguin Poets 1946

The Penguin Poets series first appeared in 1941 with only three titles published before Jan Tschichold’s arrival in 1947. I believe the original design was by John Overton.

The Penguin Poets 1951

Tschichold’s redesign picked up on features common to his other designs. Like the Shakespeare series, he added a decorative border and, as in his Penguin Scores design, he employed Garamond Italic for the titles.

The design was revised 1954 by his successor, Hans Schmoller.

The Penguin Poets: 1960

Schmoller pushed the design still closer to that of the Penguin Scores by introducing patterned backgrounds, even re-purposing some of the very same designs.

Sources and related information
For more on the design and history of Penguin Books, see Penguin by design: A cover story 1935-2005 and Seven hundred penguins in the bibliography.

Penguin covers on Flickr//

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Oliver Tomas

  • Design historian and archivist based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • info[at]olivertomas[dot]com