How old is your Ladybird Book?

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Its not as straightforward as it seems to accurately date a Ladybird Book. Very often on the Internet and in Bookshops,  there are books described as being older than they really are. The seller or shop-keeper seem to think that because thebook has a date printed on the inside that they know how old the books are. This isn’t the case for most of the Ladybird books! The dates are from when they were originally first published!

Here is a guide to help you date your Ladybird Books



Has your book got a Dust-Jacket? All Ladybird Books pre-1965 were published with these covers wrapped around them. Apart from The Key Reading Scheme (Peter &Jane books) which were published originally in 1964 and were the first books published without Dust-Jackets. The books were priced 2'6 which was printed inside. They were this price from 1940 till 1969. An astonishing 29 years!

All the spines that have titles printed from are pre-1959.  After this, it was changed from running top to bottom to match everyone else’s printing methods.

Has your book a colour picture stuck onto the centre of the front board? (It may be slightly off as these were stuck on by hand). If you look closely the picture is slightly raised.

   Now look at the endpapers of the book (the inside front and back covers). Has your book got a grey/brown, open-winged ladybird pattern? If it has your book is likely to date from between 1953 & 1960.

    If there is a blue open-winged ladybird patter your book is likely to date between 1956 & 1961.

If it does not, it will have a nice line drawing, (without any colour) which relates to the story. This makes it an earlier edition from between 1940 & 1953.

  Until 1961 Wills & Hepworth ( the published) had an open-winged ladybird logo. If your book has this logo it is pre-1961

  In 1961 the logo changed to a closed-winged ladybird, which makes your book post-1961. This is probably the most recognized logo.



If you have a book with Matt covers, it dates from between 1965 & 1983.

If it has a price stamp of 2’6 on the back cover at the bottom (and not the inside) it would have been published between 1965 & 1970.

The Shiny/laminated (wipe-clean covers) are all from post 1983. With a few exceptions.

The easiest way to date Ladybird books is the Tally Number. These were issued between 1963 & 1974. If you look on the back of your book there is a sentence running along the bottom that says ' There are xxx Ladybird Titles'. Meaning how many books had been issued up to that point.


100         from 1963

120-140  from 1964-1965

150-170  from 1966

190-200  from 1967

210-225  from 1968

230-260  from 1969

270-280  from 1970

290         from 1971                                                              

300         from 1972

320-340  from 1973

350-370  from 1974

Tally numbers determine the printing year accurately.

The price on the books is not a totally accurate way to indicate year but sometimes it helps.

Books that were published in 1969 will have the 2'6 & 12 1/2 p price on the back ready for decimalization.

On the older books the price of 2’6 would be printed inside the book.

Between 1965 & 1969 the 2’6 price was printed on the back cover.

Occasionally you will find a book that has a black square stamped on it’s back cover. This is where the price has been revised.


2'6 net   price from 1965 - February 1971

12 1/2p  price from February 1971 -  31st May 1971

15p        price from 1st June 1971 - 30th April 1974

18p        price from 1st May 1974 - 15th June 1975

24p        price from 16th June 1975 - 10 January 1978

30p        price from 11th January 1978 - 24th June 1979

40p        price from 25th June 1979 - 31 December 1980

50p        price from 1st January 1981 - 30th June 1982

60p        price from 1st July 1982 - 31st December 1983

70p        price from 1st January 1984 - 31 December 1984

75p        price from  1st January 1985 - 31st December 1986

85p        price from  1st January 1987 - 31st December 1987

90p        price from  1st January 1988 - 31st December 1988

99p        price from  1st January 1989




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