London: Published by the Great Western Railway, 1935. Item #01828
Heath Robinson’s Great Western Railway Centenary Book
[ROBINSON, W. Heath]. Railway Ribaldry. Being 96 Pages of Railway Humour. [London]: Published by the Great Western Railway…in the Centenary Year of the Company, 1935.
First edition. Quarto (9 11/16 x 7 3/8 inches; 246 x 188 mm.). 96 pp. of black and white illustrations.
Original stiff color pictorial wrappers (green, yellow, and black). Yapp edges. Neat early ink signature on upper wrapper. Edges slightly rubbed otherwise a near fine copy.
“One of his happiest assaults on the solemn edifices of the business world was his centenary booklet for The Great Western Railway. If any vindication was needed for private management as opposed to state ownership, Heath Robinson’s Great Western Railway Centenary Book Railway Ribaldry provided it. That this great railway company should turn to Heath Robinson for its celebratory panegyric shows a splendid sense of proportion. The paper-covered book contains some very funny drawings, including the frontispiece of ‘Mr W. Heath Robinson’s Own Private Railway Engine, Not Often Allowed on the G.W.R.’, which was hardly surprising for it was a most gimcrack affair with wobbly wooden wheels, yet it still had an air of credibility about it. The other drawings in Railway Ribaldry reveal every kind of probable and improbably thing that could have happened on the Great Western Railway…On every one of the 96 pages in this centenary celebration booklet, there are solemn little men going about their tasks of building the first locomotive, testing the speed of engines, catching cows with a feather-bedded cow-catcher, teaching the meaning of signals to engine drivers (who are mounted on ‘hobby-horse’ engines), or ‘Making a Simple Error of Judgement in a Goods Yard’. This last subject was a picture of a high loaded truck, with a man perched on top, about to pass under a very low bridge—and so on. The book sold for one schilling. Heath Robinson’s public really got good value for their money” (John Lewis, Heath Robinson, Artist and Comic Genius, p. 176).