Monday, February 7, 2011

The 1949 Penguin Scores

Penguin Scores, the lovely music series of books designed by Jan Tschichold in 1949, was recognizeable by the landscape format, Garamond titles and label and the beautiful background patterns illustrated by Stephen Russ, Elizabeth Friedlander, Barbara Lambourne and others. This series of books preceded the popular Penguin Poet series produced with similar patterns in a portrait format (try to say that 5 times!) in the 1950s and 60s under the art direction of Hans Schmoller. Each had richly-colored repetitive patterns and smartly-designed labels and many of the same artists illustrated patterns for both sets. Stephen Russ who trained with two of my favorite artists, Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden at the Royal College of Art in the 1930s, later became one of the most recognized illustrators for Penguin Books

Much credit for this Penguin Scores post goes to Oliver Tomas for the knowledgeable information and images he has provided at his site. Find his extensive bibliography and his great Flickr set of some Penguin covers too. I am delighted to see he has also included a post on his site on Tschichold's composition rules which he wrote in 1947 when he was hired on at Penguin Books. AceJet170 has written at length about the Penguin Scores and Penguin Poets series as well and I would like to credit him for some of his images too. And don't miss seeing more of the Penguin Poet patterned cover designs of Stephen Russ here


  1. Deary,

    Your site is as beautiful as the Penguin Scores Series design itself.
    Nevertheless I have a question: how many books were issued in the Penguin Scores Series?

  2. Great question. I had to check one of my sources, Lowry-James Books, for the answer. Priscilla Lowry-Gregor claims there were a total of 30 Penguin Scores altogether. Probably the best book printed on the topic is Phil Baines book, "Penguin By Design".

    Thanks for visiting!


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