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13 - The Observer's of "British" Architecture by John Penoyre and Michael Ryan

From the blurb on the front panel of the 1st edition dust wrapper, we get a flavour of what this book tries to cover: "This pocket guide, with its comprehensive Visual Index, contains 270 different illustrations, 125 of which are in colour. It describes the development of English architecture from Saxon times until the present day, and is designed to provide the observer with an adequate background of the development of building, planning and technique through the centuries."

From some of the images you can see how the book is well illustrated with simple colour and b/w illustrations with addition of annotation when it was consider necessary. The book takes us through a journey through history starting with the Buildings of the Medieval Period, including the Pre-Conquest or Saxon period, it ends with the Buildings of the Industrial Era with a chapter each on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century.

From a collector's point of view this book poses several challenges in that there are at least 10 variations in the cover design, however the variations can be in the form of very simple changes and at times can feel like a game of spot the difference. Too point out a couple, what is considered to be the 1st edition wrapper has the authors surname aligned to the left as opposed to the 2nd version of the wrapper where the author's names become centre justified. The second minor variation is the wrapper design of the house with the lawn, where the lawn is shaded on some wrappers but not on others. See images below.

One mystery which I have not yet understood is how there is a 1949 version of this book, (dated according to the printers code at the rear of the book), yet this title was 1st published in 1951 according to all the references guides. If you do happen to know the answer the this question please do enlighten us.

Prices for this Observer's book as always vary according to condition and edition: for example, a reasonable copy of a 1st edition with a dust wrapper will go for something around 15-20 pounds, whilst most other editions go for approx 5-8 pounds. (Prices correct 2007)


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