Observer's Books - Publisher of the Month

4 min read

The Observer's Book of... An Introduction to The Observer's Books

As the name suggests, the Observer’s Books series was created to interest the observant reader. Intended for children, these pocket-sized volumes cover a whole host of topics, from wildlife, art, antiques and music to sport, history, science and more.

A Brief History 

The Observer’s Books series amounted to 100 titles, published between 1937-2003 by Frederick Warne & Co. Warne already had experience with children’s books, having published Beatrix Potter’s charming tales between 1901-1922.

The publication of The Observer’s Book of Observer’s Books by Peter Maren and John Carter in 1999 seemed to renew collectors’ interest in the Observer’s series. While many of the volumes are still quite common, some are increasingly rare, including the 1937 publication of British Birds.

Most of the Observer’s Books have been updated or rewritten over the years. The original paper dustjackets were replaced with glossy covers in the 1970s, making the volumes far more durable. Changes such as this certainly contribute to the enduring quality of these little pocket-books.

Collector's Choice at Country House Library

  1. The Observer's Book of Birds | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Birds, S. Vere Benson (1969-71)

    The Observer’s Book of Birds follows on from Warne & Co’s first publication titled The Observer’s Book of British Birds. In a similar vein, this volume names and describes 243 different types of bird commonly spotted in Britain. The text is accompanied by many beautiful illustrations intended to interest and inform amateur birdwatchers. Complete with its original dustjacket and clothbound cover, this book will delight collectors and birdwatchers alike.

    vintage bird books at country house library →

  2. The Observer's Book of Aircraft | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Aircraft, William Green (1966)

    Containing 152 type of aircraft, this small volume was intended for curious plane spotters. Filled with descriptions, illustrations and photographs, it is an easy to follow aircraft guide. Like many books in the Observer’s collection, this particular title was published on an annual basis between 1955-1993. Each edition came with a new cover design, with pictorial coverboards eventually replacing the original dustjackets. Sold with its original jacket, this little volume holds an important place in the Observer’s collection. 

    vintage transport observer's books at country house library →

  3. The Observer's Book of Jazz | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Jazz, Mark White (1978)

    As with other books on this list, this copy of The Observer’s Book of Jazz comes with in its original dustjacket depicting American trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong. Inside the book, Mark White shares the complex yet fascinating story of jazz music, from its beginnings in New Orleans to its state in America and Europe during the 1970s. The book is written with knowledge and clarity, intended to capture the attention of all those who wish to learn a little about the history of jazz music solutions.

    vintage books on music at country house library →

  4. The Observer's Book of Astronomy | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Astronomy, Patrick Moore (1964-74)

    Written by one of the leading authorities on this subject, Sir Patrick Moore, this book offers the perfect introduction to astronomy. Moore focuses his discussion on the changing patterns of the stars and other astrological bodies during different seasons of the year. He presents his knowledge in an appealing way, making complex ideas easier to process. Accompanied by a selection of photos and charts, this book is a useful reference for young, inquisitive minds and offers a fascinating insight into the universe. 

    vintage science books at country house library →

  5. The Observer's Book of Architecture | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Architecture, John Penoyre & Michael Ryan (1958-63)

    This book shares a concise and informative history of British architecture from Saxon times to the modern day (the 1960s). Penoyre and Ryan provide the observant reader with an intriguing background to the planning and development of buildings over the centuries. Containing 275 illustrations and a visual index, this comprehensive guide is well worth owning if you are curious to learn more about the history of architecture.

    vintage architecture books at country house library →

  6. The Observer's Book of Kitchen Antiques | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Kitchen Antiques, John Woodforde (1982)

    Engagingly written and full of fascinating details, this book shares information about over 200 household items commonly used between the 17th-20th centuries. The book contains many illustrations depicting a whole host of domestic items used for washing, cooking and cleaning. While niche in its subject matter, the book is informative and reasonably rare, thus appealing to antique and literary collectors alike.

    vintage antiques books at country house library →

  7. The Observer's Book of Cricket | Country House Library

    The Observer’s Book of Cricket, Peter Smith

    With an introduction by Ray Illingworth, England’s captain during the 1970-71 Ashes, this little book was written with the observant sportsman in mind. It was only the second Observer’s book on sport, following on from a publication on football. Author Peter Smith amps the growth of cricket as a game across different test-playing countries and shares the success stories of various cricket players, teams and competitions.

    vintage cricket books at country house library →

Observe More at Country House Library!

These delightful, pocket-sized volumes are fascinating to read but also highly collectible. With demand for these books growing, especially for clothbound versions, prized volumes may quickly disappear. So, whether you own just one copy or a whole host, have a browse through our collection to see what gems you can find.


Shop for Vintage Observer's Books at Country House Library

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