The Ladybird Recognition Series was begun in 1958 (the "recognition"
title was actually only used for a time in the seventies), and is one of the more
difficult sets to unravel. The series concept is not unlike a sophisticated version
of the I Spy books, with two or three nice colour illustrations to a page, opposite
descriptive text. The problem with the books was they dated quite quickly. Unlike
Ladybird story books or History titles, which could be kept in print unchanged
for years, with the pace of change in transport, many of the machines shown disappeared
within a few years, and new illustrations had to be commissioned. Thus some titles
had to be revised periodically as we shall see. Updated info thanks to Lynn Willson
Railway Locomotives 1958
The 1st edition has 62 pages, later editions only 52. Blue LB endpapers, green
& grey/buff cover, same jacket as 2nd, spine 'wrong way up'.
British Railway Locomotives 1961 (second edition)
The second edition carries an air-brushed illustration of a Diesel Electric Locomotive
on the cover, the driver clearly visible in the cab window. Inside, the illustrations
are all hand-coloured photographs, 48 in all, the majority being steam engines.
All were supplied by British Rail, and their emblem proudly decorates the frontispiece.
British Railway Locomotives 196- (third edition)
The third revised edition had many of the same plates, but towards the second
half of the book several new plates had been added with more Diesel Locomotives
shown. The cover was new, with a heavily airbrushed illustration of The Flying
Scotsman.. A detailed technical cut-away diagram of a Diesel Locomotive was featured
on the opening page and inside cover. The book was withdrawn by the end of the
Features a very nice cream/beige DJ featuring VW Beetle, MG MGA 2-seater,
Rover 3-litre and Austin Cambridge. Blue LB endpapers, index at the back
and the usual semi-glossy paper. 72 cars featured in total (3 to a page).
Motor Cars 1961
The revised edition with newer cars
Motor Cars 1963
The second revised edition with newer cars
Motor Cars 1963
Matt cover (matching the 1968 Aircraft edition in styling)
Matt paper, index at the back and 72 cars featured.
Motor Cars 1966 2/-6d first page features
Reliant Regal 325, Daf & Daihatsu 800
Motor Cars 1968 features an Austin-Healey Sprite pulling
into a car park.First page features Reliant Regal 325, Fiat 500F & Honda
Motor Cars 1972
This revision came as a coloured hardback, with title text and Ladybird
logo in line with other books of the early seventies. The cover featured
five new cars, the Rover 3500 V8 to the front. There were three cars per
page, some 72 models shown in all, and all were illustrated by author
David Carey in a rather seventies slick angular style.
The first edition had a painting of a Sikorsky helicopter on the dust
jacket. (see top right) A technical drawing of an English Electric Lightning
appeared inside the front cover, and there was an index at the back. The
author was David Carey but the 49 illustrations were done by a B. Knight.
(My copy has a 50th illustration, penned in biro on the inside back dust
jacket, done by the original owner!). Knight was a leading aircraft illustrator
and his work was used in magazines and on plastic kit packaging at the
Aircraft 1968 (second edition)
A revised edition was published, with a Carvair transport plane on the
front. Inside some of the older aircraft had been replaced with new illustrations.
Aircraft 1972 (third edition)
This carried a nice illustration of Concorde on the front, with numerous
new pictures and at least one plane redecorated in a new livery inside.
The inside cover drawing remained.
Commercial vehicles stuck around a little longer than many cars, but even
so the illustrations probably became rather dated in time. Instead of
revising it, the title was simply withdrawn after about ten years. The
48 clear illustrations - once more by author David Carey - provide a fascinating
look at vans and lorries which are today museum pieces. All the books
in the series thus far experimented with a semi-gloss paper, even though
many Ladybirds had already been printed on matt paper by this time.
Commercial Vehicles 1969 (second edition)
starting with Fiat 241 and Ford Transit
The series wasn't really developed as it might have been, and four years passed
before this new title was added, again written by David Carey but illustrated
by J H Wingfield.
Five years later Carey was able to persuade Ladybird to add the last title
to the series. The illustrations by J Smith really capture the romance
of merchant shipping well, with plenty of vivid sunsets and choppy waves
highlighting excellent detailed pictures. However unlike the other titles
the opportunity for spotting merchant ships probably wasn't open to as
many children, so it's hard to know how well it sold.
This series is one of the more difficult to complete. The titles are sought
after by train, car and aircraft enthusiasts, while many copies seem to
have fallen apart after endless "spotting" trips! The rapid updating of
the first three titles also means fewer copies of each edition were printed.
We'd appreciate details of any editions you have that
aren't on the list below.
for these books under subject headings in second-hand book-shops, as the
titles are often filed there instead of being lumped in with the rest
of the Ladybirds in the Children's section..
|British Railway Locomotives 1958 (1st)
British Railway Locomotives 1961 (2nd) +
British Railway Locomotives 196- (3rd) +
Motor Cars 196- (1st)
Motor Cars 1961 (2nd)
Motor Cars 1963 (3rd)
Motor Cars 1966 (4th)
Motor Cars 1968 (5th)
Motor Cars 1972 (6th) +
|Aircraft 1964 (1st) +
Aircraft 1968 (2nd) +
Aircraft 1972 (3rd) +
Commercial Vehicles 1964 +
Commercial Vehicles 1969 (2nd) +
Merchant Ships 1973 +