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Editions from the 1950s

From the very first copy bound on Saturday 27th August 1955 there were 4 printings (impressions) of the 1st edition of the Guinness Book of Records. Many copies were sent free-of-charge as promotional gifts, some were laminated or covered in glassine (greaseproof) wrappers, and many came with an introductory letter or a Guinness compliments slip.

This first table shows some of the inserts that we have discovered, but there are certainly more. The tables for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th impressions show differences between the printings; these editions also came with a variety of covers and inserts.

1955 First Edition

(Laminated)

(Glassine Cover)

Edition

1

Publication Date

October 1955 Note 3

Cover

Green

Price New 5/- Note 4

Foreword

August 1955, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

198

Parts 12 ("The Universe", "The Natural World", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Human Being", "The Human World", "The Scientific World",  "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "The Business World",  "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 16 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited Note 1

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited Note 1

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(Associated Staples Press Company)

Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. There are two different "publishers" of the first edition: "Guinness Superlatives Limited" and "Superlatives Limited". The latter, though not that rare, is less common. There are no other obvious differences between the publications, so they are treated as the same edition.

  1. The first edition has no edition number. Subsequent editions have an edition number or an impression number or both.

  2. The prefaces (and edition lists) in some later editions say that the original edition was "published in October 1955", but the 10th edition says, "published in September 1955". The first copy was bound on Saturday 27th August 1955, with a scheduled publication date of Monday 3rd October, 1955.

  3. A copy was available for each member of the brewery at 2/6, half the retail price.

  4. Some copies are laminated or had a glassine paper cover, though no laminated "Superlatives" copies are known. There are copies that came in slip cases - Darren Bruton notes one (right) with an embossed message: "With Seasons Greetings Prosperity Happiness in the New Year from all in the organisation of BOX MAKERS (Manchester) LTD. 444, ORDSALL LANE, MANCHESTER".

  5. Many first editions were sent boxed to public houses. Letters accompanying the books said that they had been given, "a special waterproof, and beer-proof, binding so that it may stand up to handling in a busy bar".

The copy below is from "F. H. Penfold, 15 St. Augustine's Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, 16"; others are from "J. A. Watt, 39 Portman Square, London W.1", "B. G. Stenson, 11 Chapel Field North, Norwich, Norfolk", "J. C. Martin, 73 Park Lane, Liverpool", "S. A. Villiers, Pomona Docks, Cornbrook Road, Manchester 15", "S. I. Millar, 37-38 Royal Exchange Chambers, City Square, Leeds, 1" and "F. A. Atkinson, 3-4 Guildford Crescent, Churchill Way, Cardiff".

 

 

F. H. Penfold

B. G. Stenson

J. A. Watt

S. A. Villiers

F. A. Atkinson

J. C. Martin

  1. A boxed edition to "Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver" was sold on eBay in 2007.

  2. Some copies have "Valking" instead of "Walking" on page 148 (seems to be a typographical error, rather than a spelling error).

  3. Some copies have an original compliments slip [Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Park Royal) Ltd. from London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, etc.], indicating that many copies were given away as marketing "gifts".

(signed by Sir Hugh Beaver)

 

 

 

 

 

(Image courtesy of Tree4Books)

 

 

 

 

(From a "Superlatives" edition with a glassine cover)

  1. Other copies had an insert which said, "Your local bookseller will be pleased to supply you with a copy of this book. Price 5/-".

  1. We have a laminated copy signed in September 1955:

 

  1. The acknowledgements section for illustrations says "Art-work by K. T. Toziczka".

  2. One late amendment and one late addition appear on page 198.

 

1955 First Edition, Second Impression

Edition

2

Publication Date

October 1955

Cover

Green

Price New 5/-

Foreword

September 1955, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

198

Parts 12 ("The Universe", "The Natural World", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Human Being", "The Human World", "The Scientific World",  "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "The Business World",  "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 16 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(Associated Staples Press Company)

Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. Some copies are laminated (or have a glassine paper cover).

  2. The second edition has no edition number - it simply states, "Second Impression".

  3. No late amendments or additions. To accommodate the addition on page 145, spacing between paragraphs has been removed.

 

1955 First Edition, Third Impression

Edition

3

Publication Date

November 1955

Cover

Green

Price New 5/-

Foreword

September 1955, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

198

Parts 12 ("The Universe", "The Natural World", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Human Being", "The Human World", "The Scientific World",  "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "The Business World",  "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 16 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(Associated Staples Press Company)

Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. Some copies are laminated (or have a glassine paper cover).

  2. The third edition has no edition number - it simply states, "Third Impression".

  3. The height of Everest changed on the frontispiece (and page 19) from 29,028 feet to 29,160 feet.

  4. Various other records (such as sporting records) updated - typical of the McWhirters' attention to detail.

  5. "The Lady Wentworth" added to the acknowledgements.

  6. No late amendments or additions.

  7. We have a copy with a compliments slip from Arthur William Fawcett, Managing Director of Guinness Exports Ltd. until his retirement in 1962. The first page has a 1955 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout label stuck on, and the title page has a smaller label from 1950.

 

1956 First Edition, Fourth Impression

Edition

4

Publication Date

January 1956

Cover

Green

Price New 5/-

Foreword

November 1955, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

198

Parts 12 ("The Universe", "The Natural World", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Human Being", "The Human World", "The Scientific World",  "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "The Business World",  "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 16 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(Associated Staples Press Company)

Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. Some copies are laminated (or have a glassine paper cover).

  2. The fourth edition has no edition number - it simply states, "Fourth Impression".

  3. No late amendments or additions.

 

1956 Second Edition

 

Edition

5

Publication Date

October 1956

Cover

Oxford Blue

Price New 9/6

Foreword

October 1956, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

272

Parts 12 ("The Human Being", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Natural World", "The Universe", "The Scientific World", "The Human World", "The Business World", "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 32 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(A member of the Staples Group)

Warton Road, Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. This was the first edition with a dust-jacket (dust-wrapper). Some copies were laminated (right).

  2. Frontispiece illustration changed to "World's Highest Waterfall" ("Angel Fall").

  3. Acknowledgements moved to a separate page and extended.

  4. "What is the highest point in our county?" removed from the Foreword.

  5. Descriptions of the pictures on page 90 are missing from the list of illustrations.

  6. Parts re-ordered.

  7. Some copies have a tilted harp logo on the front cover (pictured right).

  8. The front dust-jacket flap has a wonderfully "politically incorrect" section:

    "Now, this completely revised and much enlarged up-to-date 1957 edition will be an even greater asset to —

    • the parent of the enquiring child

    • the schoolteacher of the inquisitive class

    • the secretary with the exaggerating boss

    • the man with the dominating mother-in-law

    • the sportsman with a bad memory

    • the invalid with hours to while away, and, we hope, for all

    • "public" arguments and "saloon" discussions."

  9. No late amendments or additions.

  10. As with the 1st edition, some copies have an original compliments slip [Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Park Royal) Ltd. from London], indicating that many copies were given away as marketing "gifts". Copies with the original packaging from Guinness are also known.

 

  1. We have a copy of this edition that was sent to the printers (F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.) by Peter Page - the manager of the London Office at that time. The copy has a signed letter thanking S. Allbury for helping in the production of the second edition:

  1. We also have a laminated gift copy which was sent to Mr F. Lancashire (Messrs Skinner & Rook Ltd., Nottingham) by F. H. Penfold (Regional Manager of Arthur Guinness Son & Co., Edgbaston, Birmingham):

  1. To encourage people to join the Foyles Book Clubs, copies of this edition were given away to members who secured a new enrolment for any of the clubs.

The leaflet says, "Copies of the last edition of the Guinness Book of Records reached no fewer than one million enthusiastic readers and the entire huge edition went quickly out-of-print".

 

 

1956 Second Edition (Second Impression)

Edition

6

Publication Date

December 1956

Cover

Oxford Blue

Price New 9/6

Foreword

October 1956, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compilers

Pages

272

Parts 12 ("The Human Being", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Natural World", "The Universe", "The Scientific World", "The Human World", "The Business World", "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport")
Illustrations Colour frontispiece, 32 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Ludgate House, Fleet Street, London

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(A member of the Staples Group)

Warton Road, Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. Just over 12,000 copies were published - the lowest print run of any edition.

  2. A laminated copy is known to exist.

  3. Descriptions of the pictures on Page 90 are inserted into the list of illustrations.

  4. No late amendments or additions.

  5. We have a copy with an Australian compliments slip:

 

1958 Third Edition (First Impression)

Edition

7

Publication Date

12th November 1958

Cover

Red

Price New 10/6

Foreword

October 1958, Earl of Iveagh

Preface

The Compiler

Pages

277

Parts 12 ("The Human Being", "The Animal Kingdom", "The Natural World", "The Universe", "The Scientific World", "The Human World", "The Business World", "The World's Structures", "The Mechanical World", "Accidents and Disasters", "Human Achievements" and "Sport, Games and Pastimes")
Illustrations 118: Colour frontispiece, 28 black and white plates
Dimensions Crown Quarto 10x7 inches (254x191 mm)
Copyright Guinness Superlatives Limited

Publisher

Guinness Superlatives Limited

Park Royal Brewery, London, N.W.10

Printer

F. Howard Doulton & Co., Ltd.

(A member of the Staples Group)

Warton Road, Stratford, London, E.15

Notes:
  1. A boxed edition has been found (unverified).

  2. Frontispiece illustration changed to "The Launching of Satellite 1958 Beta".

  3. Publishers note concerning back issues added.

  4. The preface states, "Over 300,000 copies of the old green (first edition) and blue (second edition) books were printed but the title was nonetheless out of print for 21 of its first 37 months in being".

  5. Part 12 renamed, "Sport, Games and Pastimes".

  6. For the first time, the acknowledgements section mentions some of the people involved in the production of each edition: Miss G. Doyle (Trudy Doyle, the McWhirters' secretary), George Fisher, Esq. ("the London taxi driver with a photographic memory for horse racing statistics") and R. E. Marler, Esq. (Ray Marler the book's indexer).

  7. No late amendments or additions.

  8. We have an advanced copy with a compliments and information slip signed by Norris McWhirter:

 

  1. We also have a copy with a signed Park Royal compliments slip:

  1. And we have a copy with a compliments slip from the Guinness offices in Churchill Way, Cardiff:

 

To encourage people to join the Foyles Book Clubs, copies of this edition were given away to members who secured a new enrolment for any of the clubs.

 

The leaflet says, "Copies of the two previous editions of the Guinness Book of Records reached over a million enthusiastic readers and both huge editions went quickly out-of-print".