Odds and quads

Launched during the First World War, Ladybird created probably the UK's most iconic - and now most nostalgic - series of 20th-century children's books.

November 8, 2012

These items all come from the University of Reading's Ladybird Archive - more than 700 boxes of original artwork, proofs and documents covering the publisher's golden age from the 1940s to the 1990s, with material ranging from What to Look for in Spring to The Transformers: Laserbeak's Fury.

Strict production rules and increasingly large print runs enabled the company to maintain prices at 2s 6d (12.5p) from 1945 to 1971.

Reading's Museum of English Rural Life is now hosting an exhibition, titled What to Look for? Ladybird, Tunnicliffe, and the Hunt for Meaning (until 14 April 2013). This focuses on a single watercolour (above) that artist Charles Tunnicliffe produced for E.L. Grant Watson's 1960 Ladybird book What to Look For in Autumn, how it was reproduced in subsequent editions and what surviving copies can tell us about their owners.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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