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2020 Design research collections


The John Marks collection showcases a broad history of book design and marketing in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The collection comprises literary postcards, Penguin book covers and novelty books.



Literary postcards

Postcards in the collection generally date from 1980 or later, although some are earlier. Some of the cards feature extracts from poetry, whereas others use prose to promote literature more generally. The collection includes a series of attractive illustrated cards promoting children's books, several of which remain in complete sets or contain interesting additional features such as pop-up or character fact files.

Other postcard designs include illustrations from adult and children’s literature, including from Beatrix Potter, original or early cover images from classic literature or vintage books, foreign scenes from travel books, promotional designs, and images of libraries, rare books, writers and other literary subjects. Marks selected many of the cards specifically for their typographical features.

Many of the poetry cards were produced for events such as National Poetry Day, or as part of the Poetry on Loan project, which promotes contemporary poetry through public libraries in the West Midlands. Other poetry cards were produced by literary periodicals or by individual poets, including Ian Hamilton Finlay and Dennis Gould, as an additional or alternative means of publication. Some cards feature popular verse or regional or sentimental themes, including Somerset cider, Cornish smugglers or Yorkshire dialect, and do not credit an author.



Penguin book covers

This collection comprises Penguin book covers and a quantity of material relating to their design. It showcases the changing design and presentation of Penguin’s published output during the 20th century.

The book covers come from books on a range of subjects including children’s literature, philosophy, adult fiction and contemporary thought.



Novelty books

A collection of over 200 books with novelty features, including pop-ups, jigsaw puzzles, games and cutouts.




Research Collections

Research Collections

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