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The Blackie Question Revisited

August 26, 2013

Our post of 4 February, concerning the five titles with illustrations by Pauline Baynes in the series Blackie’s Library of Famous Books, drew replies from fellow collectors, who sent us valuable information. Since then, we have had a helpful response to questions sent to the British Library about their copy of Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and we have been able to determine that Blackie & Son moved their London offices from 66 Chandos Place to 16/18 William IV Street in 1951.

Most interesting of all, we have found that Pauline Baynes art was first included in the Blackie Andersen’s Fairy Tales alongside black and white illustrations by Helen Stratton, whose pictures had accompanied the Blackie Andersen for many years. Two of the copies of this revised Andersen called to our attention, as well as the British Library copy, are illustrated primarily by Stratton, but with a colour frontispiece by Baynes and a title-page drawing after Baynes (adapted from her dust-jacket art for the Blackie Grimm’s Fairy Tales). Since the copies give the first London address for the publisher on the verso of the half-title leaf as 66 Chandos Place (Blackie’s London office from 1941 to 1951), and a ‘Book Production War Economy Standard’ notice also is printed on that page (referring to a conservation scheme which ended in 1949), and in two of the copies there is a 1949 ownership date, we have dated the first appearance of the Baynes art, and of her paintings for an accompanying dust-jacket, to [1949?].

Sometime later, the Stratton art was removed from the Blackie Andersen and replaced with further ink drawings by Baynes, added to her existing frontispiece and title-page art. The text type was reset as well. So far, the earliest copies of this new edition known to us give the publisher’s London address as 16/18 William IV Street, and thus can have appeared no earlier than 1951; and as noted in our earlier post, our copy with this address has an ownership inscription dated 1954, providing a range for the printing date from 1951 to 1954. Since the artist’s copy, preserved in the Pauline Baynes Archive at Williams College, likewise contains the William IV Street address, it seems reasonable to suppose that the copy represents the first appearance of the new Baynes illustrations, and therefore we have dated the new edition to [1951?]. Of course, this conclusion may be refined as more information about further copies comes to hand.

  1. robin permalink
    October 15, 2013 5:31 pm

    I have a copy of Andersen’s fairy tales that fits all your description’s is it valuable I have it in my sons books right now lol

    • robin permalink
      October 15, 2013 6:16 pm

      My copy has drawings by Helen Stratton signed in little squares

    • October 17, 2013 9:57 pm

      It’s probably not very valuable, Robin, given the kind of book in general and the often-reprinted title in particular. Much would depend on whether it has its dust-jacket and on the condition of volume and jacket. We still hope to acquire a copy of the variant with art by both Stratton and Baynes.

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