We have a mystery on our hands. OK, a pretty small mystery but nevertheless, it's a mystery that begs answers. Path buddy Tim Fowler, from here, here and here, sent his copy of Forster's 1908 classic (well, actually, the 1955 Penguin edition).
But look at the title. Odd "A"s.
Now you can imagine how this might happen. Way back in 1955, Penguin's jobbing typesetter, momentarily distracted by thoughts of lunch and a rather tasty swan sandwich his wife had lovingly prepared for him the evening before, lifted a Gill Sans "A" out of the type tray and slipped it into position, not noticing that it didn't match the other he'd slotted into place just a few seconds earlier.
Hardly his fault. His job was to assemble the lead, he didn't put the wrong "A" into the tray. Perhaps a cleaner had found it kicking around the floor and thinking he was being very helpful and thinking that there's nothing to this type matching lark, dropped it into the little wooden compartment along with all the other "A"'s. They looked the same. An "A" is, after all, an "A".
Fast forward fifty seven years and there's a bunch of saddoes (myself and Tim inlcuded) scratching their typographically interested heads wondering about the anomaly. Of course, identifying the rogue "A", the second one, is one challenge.
What I would really like to know is whether this error really went unnoticed. It must have been printed in its thousands. Curiously, the peculiarity has been reproduced on modern deck chairs and canvas prints - perhaps it was never corrected.
Much to the delight of the rest of my family, I got ALL of my Penguin and Pelican paperbacks out last week. Took a few photos but also updated my Flickr sets with design credits for Main Series, Crime, Education, Specials and Pelicans.
Coralie Bickford-Smith's spectacular covers for the Penguin Great Food series got an abundance of well deserved blog coverage. They were published around April last year and it would be worth a little dig around to find some of it; to get the inside track on the amazing care and detail Coralie applied to this beautiful collection. I can remember, on the run up to their release, Coralie's intriguing tweets that hinted at her research.
Karen, my wife, bought me the full set for Christmas. I'd seen a few in the flesh and more, of course, online but getting your hands on the lot is really the only way to appreciate just how fabulous and rich the designs are.
I think I must have most of the good Penguin Education covers. You don't find many. Perhaps it's because the subject was "of its time" so the editions weren't seen to have much life beyond their era. I don't know. As I've said before, it was this series that got me into collecting Penguins - Ominific's covers are great examples of economically executed, intelligent graphic design.