VINTAGE OBSESSION #1: The Observer’s Pocket Series

Interiors Journalist (and Vintage Shopping Addict), Ellie TennantIACF VIntage Shopping Blogger

Cacti. Cats. Caterpillars. Canals.  Whenever I scour an antiques fair – propping or shopping – I’m always drawn to these quirky little numbered books. It all started with The Observer’s Book of British Butterflies. Next, it was Weather. Then Trees and Shrubs. I was hooked.

Yes, I’m a shallow stylist; it must devalue them (and I’m sure any serious collectors reading this will weep), but I remove the printed paper jackets to expose the plain coloured cover and pleasingly utilitaIACF Observers Pocket Series rian typeface beneath.

From Pond Life to Postage Stamps – there’s a title for every possible hobby or topic. There’s even The Observer’s Book of Observer’s Books, weirdly.  The series started in 1937 with the publication of Birds and, later, Wild Flowers by Frederick Warne. They were in print for over 50 years and enthusiasts now seek out all the various jacket designs, which can be as many as 400 for each published edition. First editions or those with rare jackets can fetch up to £168 each at auction, but you can pick up more common ones for £2.50 at an antiques fair.

They’re not only collectible and fascinating to read – the styling possibilities are endless. You can line them up on a narrow windowsill, arrange them artfully in trios on a coffee table or stack them in a bell jar, ordered according to colour or number. My latest find is a 1960s edition of The Observer’s Book of Sea and Seashore, filled with colourful diagrams of coral and flat worms that are strangely beautiful.

IACF Observers Pocket Series

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2 thoughts on “VINTAGE OBSESSION #1: The Observer’s Pocket Series

  1. Yes….I collect these too and am strangely fascinated by the loverly colours and way they stack beautifully…..also a morbid thought that if the world of Internet information crashes they will be useful in spotting seashells butterflies etc.!
    I also ditched the jackets Feeling naughty as they weren’t in very good condition. Their styling opportunities are endless. Just discovered your blog and love it as I embark on a new venture of delving into the world of antiques and pretty things. I am sure I was born in the wrong era ,I love ephemera and quirky objects! Might bump into you one day at a fair! Aren’t we lucky that we can work doing something we love…even though we often have to hide the fruits of our labours!! My kids are like…..oh mum what an earth to we need this for? I want to buy and sell so am going to have to learn non attachment! Do you find that hard!

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