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Shell and BP Shilling Guides to the counties of Britain

In the 1930s Shell gained a good reputation for its artwork, especially for the small posters pasted to the side of its delivery lorries and tankers. Many of these were commissioned from leading British artists including E McKnight Kauffer, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. Shell also started a series of county guides, which continued after the War under the editorial control of John Betjeman (later the poet laureate) and John Piper. As these cost 15/- each, ShellMex & BP Ltd wanted something cheaper that could be sold in service stations. Rather than going the French & Italian route of cartoguides, in 1963-4 they commissioned 48 small booklets, each of 20 pages with a full colour card cover. The centre spread was a two colour map of the area, preceded by an essay on the history and landscape, and followed by a short gazetteer of main towns and tourist attractions.

These were sold for 1/-, so soon became known as the Shilling Guides. The cover art was once again of a high standard, with leading commercial artists producing scenes representing highlights of the county covered. These paintings were also used in the Shell County Guides series of advertisements, placed in the new colour supplements to weekend newspapers. Part of each illustration and the entire text was used again for the Shell and BP Guide to Britain, although that had different (four colour) maps. (This guide was sold in the USA under the name The Shell Guide to Britain as it was before BP's first entry into the US petrol market.)

The Shell and BP Guide to Britain

Shilling Guide to Argyll and Bute The Scottish and Welsh Shilling Guides were produced in 1963. Argyll and Bute was drawn by Maurice Wilson and Cardiganshire and Breconshire by Keith Grant.
Shilling Guide to Cardiganshire and Breconshire
Shilling Guide to Derbyshire and Staffordshire Central England was completed in 1964. Derbyshire and Staffordshire was drawn by Julian Trevelyan and Lincolnshire by Kenneth Rowntree.
Shilling Guide to Lincolnshire
Shilling Guide to Devon The South Coast was completed in 1963. Devon was drawn by Thomas Swimmer and Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by Keith Shackleton. Jarrold of Norwich printed all the guides.
Shilling Guide to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

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Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-2

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