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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

‘Front cover design by Kyffin Williams’

I’ve always loved the covers of one particular series of Welsh castles guidebooks from the early 1960s. It had never occurred to me to find out the artist’s identity. In hindsight, it is quite obvious. A colleague spotted a short ‘bibliographic essay’ by John Kenyon in The Castle Studies Group Journal (vol. 27) which discussed the very same guidebooks. It revealed that the covers were designed by none other than Kyffin Williams (not yet Sir Kyffin!).

The covers are printed in black plus one other colour on white background using a process which I believe is called offset lithography, giving a very distinct look often found in illustrated books of the period. I think the limitations of the printing process actually enhance the bold and striking designs. Maybe it’s time to issue them as fine art prints? I’d buy one.

We were delighted to find that not only do we have the four guidebooks in our library, but that at least one – Caernarfon Castle – has two versions of the cover: the taupe one pictured in John Kenyon’s article, and another in bright orangey-red. Are there other variants? Do let us know.

Dr Anna Z. Skarżyńska Archive & Library Officer

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David Gill said...

For more details about these guidebooks under the MPBW see:
See also some of the other guides to sites in Wales here:

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