2010 Bookseller Resource Guide
Allen Lane’s Christmas Keepsakes
Allen Lane, who entered publishing by accident and came to dominate it for many years with his Penguin empire, produced fifteen limited-edition volumes for his friends, authors, and customers. These books stand out because of the huge gulf that separates these rare, hand-crafted artifacts from the millions of cheap paperbacks that Lane’s presses pumped out. Lane published the first three books while he served as a director at the Bodley Head, a London publishing house founded by a relative. The financial hardship of the worldwide economic depression and then the world war resulted in a fifteen-year lapse in the tradition. Lane filled the gap, however, with jaunty and comic Christmas cards.
Steve Hare, a collector of Penguin books and all things Allen Lane (see www.penguincollectorssociety.org), wrote an article, “Compliments of the Season,” about Lane’s Christmas keepsake books for FB&C 18. Presented here, for the first time, in an online exclusive: an illustrated bibliography of all of Lane’s holiday cards and books.
This bibliography is adapted from a list prepared by Jonathan Gili and published in the autumn 1984 issue of The Private Library. Book values are estimates of 2005 market prices for very good to fine copies, in a dust jacket if issued with one. Cards are not expensive, but they don’t turn up very often.
1928 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and Other Poems by Thomas Gray; illustrations by Clarke Hutton; bound in quarter cream linen and green marbled boards; issued in a slipcase. 250 copies. $300–$500
1929 A Very Early Victorian Christmas by Hector Bolitho; sewn in parchment covers with patterned-paper wrappers. 300 copies. $75–$100
1930 The Dog by John Ferguson with an illustration by A. R. Thompson; sewn in parchment covers with patterned paper wrappers. 300 copies. $75–$100
1945 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; five plates by Duncan Grant; bound in blue Niger morocco. 700 copies. $400–$600.
1948 The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm; bound in orange pink cloth. 500 copies. $75–$125
1949 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; illustrations stereotyped from the original plates by John Tenniel; bound in light blue-green buckram covers. 500 copies. $150–$250
1950 The Nun’s Priest’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer; modern English translation by Nevill Coghill; wood engravings by Lynton Lamb; bound in quarter Linson vellum with patterned-paper boards designed by Lamb. 1,000 copies. $50–$100
1951 St Mark’s Gospel; translated by E. V. Rieu; bound in gray canvas and a dust jacket. 1,250 copies. $75–$125.
1952 The Diverting History of John Gilpin by William Cowper; illustrated by Ronald Searle; printed by the Chiswick Press (later reissued as a King Penguin). Bound in white card wrappers with a gray dust jacket. 1,600 copies. $50–$100
1955 Selected Bab Ballads written and illustrated by W. S. Gilbert; bound in black cloth. 1,500 copies. $30–$75
1957 Private Angelo by Eric Linklater; bound in vellum-covered boards; endpapers by David Gentleman. This is probably first book to be printed entirely by photocomposition in the U.K. 2,000 copies. $75–$125

Boxwood and Graver with woodblock prints by a variety of artists; bound in quarter vellum over Japanese wood veneer. 1,500 copies. $75–$150
1961 The Trial of Lady Chatterley edited by C. H. Rolph; illustrated by Paul Hogarth and others; bound in green cloth and a dust jacket. 2,000 copies. $75–$150.
1963 Without Prejudice: One Hundred Letters from Frederick William Rolfe, “Baron Corvo,” to John Lane; edited, with an introduction, by Cecil Woolf; printed on handmade paper with four plates and eight pages of facsimile letters; bound in paper boards with a pink dust jacket. 600 copies. $150–$250
1965 For Such as Are of Riper Years (anonymous); illustrated by Mel Calman; quarter-bound in orange cloth. 2,000 copies. A large, accordion-bound edition was published in 1964 and recalled. Some copies are believed to have been shipped to Australia and may survive. $75–$100 for regular edition; the recalled edition (not pictured), if copies exist, might fetch $1,000 from a determined Penguin completist.