Publishers often produced cheaper editions of their titles to appeal to a wider audience, and Collins did it often. They produced the Crown Library editions, (a different thing from the Crown Pony Library); the Collins Standard series and the Children’s Press, amongst others. In the 1960s, the Seagull Library appeared. This included a wide range of books for boys and girls: classics and a few new works, but mostly titles Collins had already published. The books were produced much more cheaply than Collins’ standard range. The Seagull Library had mid blue boards with a silver seagull on the front, generally a specially designed dustjacket, and cheap paper, which browned very easily. The girl’s section included a good number of pony stories, a few of which only appeared in Collins Seagull editions: Patricia Leitch’s Riding Course Summer and Highland Pony Trek; Elinore Havers’ Surprise Riding Club, Denise Hill’s A Pony for Two and Coco the Gift Horse and Frances Murray’s Ponies on the Heather. Decie Merwin’s Holiday Summer had already been published in America, but the Collins Seagull printing was its first in Britain.
The Library also included Western titles; part of the boy’s library, but read avidly by girls too. I’ve included the more overtly horsy here.
Most titles had new dustjackets; generally a marked step down in artistic quality from the original. Sheila Rose, who did the cover for Holiday Summer, also produced the original for Christine Pullein-Thompson’s Phantom Horse, but this was replaced by an effort which is frankly lame. Anne Bullen managed to hang on to Plenty of Ponies, but her lovely originals for No Mistaking Corker and The Summer of the Great Secret bit the dust. Some titles (Pony Club Camp, A Pony for Sale and Plenty of Ponies) were printed after 1969 with no dustjackets, but with pictorial boards with the same cover illustration as the earlier Seagull edition. It may well be that more titles appeared with laminated boards. I’ve included just the ones I’ve seen.
In the 1970s, Collins replaced the generalist Seagull Library with single interest libraries, like the Pony and Ballet libraries.
I’ve included below all the Collins Seagull pony titles I know about: if you know of more, please contact me.
Links and sources
The genesis of Collins Seagull
An illustrated index of Seagull titles for boys
Thank you to Helen Millar for clearing up the date when the pictorial board editions appeared, and to Steve Taylor for information on the series as a whole, and on books for boys in particular.