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Observing The Observers

Observers Books

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Suitable for carrying in the pocket
Accurate pictures

Is on the flyleaf of the first Observers series books. Sums it all up in a nutshell. I used to carry my 1965 copy of The Observers Book of Churches in my jacket pocket, so when I looked round a church I knew what I was observing.

the publishers Frederick Warne published the first book in the series The Observers Book of Birds in 1937, closely followed the same year by The Observers Book of Wild Flowers. The Observers Book series was born. By 1941 there were six books in the series.

In 1942 a special edition book was published on Airplanes to help people spot enemy aircraft, but this book doesn’t have a number in the series. On the other hand book 86 on Country Houses was commissioned but never published.

Book 99 is The Observers Book of Observers Books. It was reprinted five times so there’s obviously quite a big interest in the series, which was brought up to a nice round 100 by The Observers Book of Wayside and Woodland.

The books have had several design changes over the years, and my 1993 copy of Observers Castles (note that “Book of” has gone from the title) is a hardback book with a glossy cover but no dust jacket, that requires a slightly larger pocket. It was published by Bloomsbury Books under license from Penguin Books, who now own Frederick Warne.

The series number is gone. The book is copyrighted Frederick Warne 1979 and 1986, so I think it’s essentially the same as the original book. As far as I can tell the series isn’t available new, so it’s off to the used book shops with you, if you want to try one.

Many variations have been published over the years, and some rare ones are quite valuable. I thought for a while while researching this post that my Observers Book of Old Churches was worth quite a lot of money, but it’s not one of the very rare 1969 ones with the laminated cover.

I was quite relieved, since while it lived in my pocket it hadn’t been getting the best of care. It’s worth the £3.50 I paid for it, rather than £100 or more! I had been looking after the slightly fragile original dust jacket, though; I kept the jacket at home and made a plain card replacement to protect the book. I shall be carrying it again now, as I’ll be looking round the occasional church for my North Bucks Wanderer blog.

I will be writing posts about some of the books in the series, and I’ve already written about the Observers Book of Astronomy.

The Observers Books, published originally by Frederick Warne


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