They came from a delightful secondhand book shop on the High Rd in East Finchley called Black Gull Books, and were purchased by Adam, who had sent me this tempting photo of their Christmas window display, followed by a list of every Penguin they had for sale; some of the Penguins pictured here are now mine. We visited the shop together late one Friday afternoon as it was just starting to get dark, and I found a few more I couldn't resist (and this must be the most wonderful aspect of blogging - the opportunity to form friendships, based on a mutual love of books and literature, with people you would otherwise never have met).
Penguin Poets which you don't often find for sale.
My very favourite charity store, and the one I always head to as soon as I get to London, is the Oxfam on the Kentish Town Rd. This is partly nostalgia, as it was there that I found my very first copy of Penguin no. 1 (Ariel) many years ago, and although I have since found several copies, I'll never forget the moment I saw that longed-for blue spine. This time they had a stack of green Michael Innes titles for 50 pence each, and other Penguins for around 2 pounds. And I found a few more at the Oxfam store on Portobello Rd in Notting Hill (along with loads of less common Enid Blyton titles for my daughter).
One of the stallholders on the Portobello Road pointed me in the direction of the Notting Hill Comic and Book Exchange near the Notting Hill Gate tube station. I'm trying to think how to describe the attitude of the staff - reluctant, uninterested, condescending, disdainful? Perhaps it was just that a week of travelling about in the welcoming countryside had left me unprepared for the widespread unfriendliness of London (though with some very notable exceptions), or perhaps my taste in books does mark me as gauche. Either way it was still worth a visit, as the floor to ceiling shelves were packed with interesting books priced from as little as one pound, and the basement held a series of enticing rooms filled with books selling for 50 pence each. Books downstairs were grouped together by spine colour making it easy to scan for Penguins, and to notice a shelf filled with Viragos.
no. 2533 The Last Tresilians to give to Simon when I met him in Oxford, but unfortunately no luck there, and no. 2914 Clochemerles-Les-Bains which they had!). I left a very contented Pam locked in Skoob's underground bunker with shelves and shelves of mixed vintage and recent unpriced Penguins, and returned later in the evening to find her the happy owner of about another forty books.
And so back to the post office, so that Pam could post home another five packages and I could post home one, and another resolution to find no more books. I suggested a trip to Camden markets to browse the clothing stalls and sample some of the interesting foods you would never find in Australia, but even there we came upon more cheap Penguins.
Vintage Penguins in Amsterdam
Vintage Penguins in Newcastle
Vintage Penguins in Lyme Regis
Vintage Penguins in Oxford
Vintage Penguins in Adelaide