Guinness Record Book Collecting
As well as the Guinness Book of Records and associated publications, collectors are often interested in related paraphernalia. We have (or know of) many such items, so we'll exhibit a few on this page if there is no natural place for them elsewhere on our site.
As far as we know, Guinness Superlatives sent Christmas cards to contributors, collectors and others every year. We have a few of these, the best of which are the following:
Directors Special Editions
Thanks to Iain McWhirter, we have discovered that Guinness Superlatives produced some special editions for Norris and Ross McWhirter between 1972 and 1975. The images below show the 4 editions that were produced. We believe that other directors of Guinness Superlatives may have received copies, but these are undoubtedly very rare copies indeed.
Guinness World of Records
In June 1984, the Guinness World of Records exhibition opened at the Trocadero in Piccadilly, London. The exhibition was one of a number of similar shows around the world and, as well as featuring world records, included a section dedicated to British achievements. When it opened, entry was £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children though additional revenue was, of course, brought in by selling promotional items and books in the exhibition shop.
Such exhibitions offered visitors the opportunity to buy badges, patches, spoons, bookmarks, glasses, paperweights and other souvenirs; we'll feature a selection of these as we come across them:
Guinness Bank of Knowledge
In the late 1970s (possibly 1978), Guinness Superlatives started a reference service in conjunction with James Service Limited. Entitled "The Guinness Bank of Knowledge", the service offered a telephone information line for journalists from "newspapers, magazines, radio and television". A call to the service would put the journalist in touch with an expert who would draw on his knowledge (and information from the Guinness Book of Records and the Guinness Book of Answers) to answer questions in 34 subject areas. It appeared that many of the experts were, in fact, the authors of the Guinness Facts & Feats series of books.
Whilst Guinness Records are mostly associated with the series of records books, over the years a number of records-related products have been produced in other media. Of course, there have been many TV shows (and the famous World Records exhibitions), but there are a number of consumer products worth collecting if you come across them.
Video: Several video cassettes showcased some Guinness records, such as: "The Guinness Video of Records" (left) from Virgin Vision in 1988/1989 (VVD 429); "David Frost presents The Best of The Guinness Book of Records Volume 1" (right) from Guinness Books and the Daily Mail in 1986; and "Guinness Book of World Records" (far right) from VidAmerica, Inc. in 1985 (VidAmerica #7066). Other videos contained footage from shows such as the UK's BBC Record Breakers series with Roy Castle (BBCV 5487, 1994).
A number of CD-ROMs entitled "The Guinness Disc of Records" were
produced for a variety of platforms from around 1990 onwards. The copy pictured left is the 1991
DOS Edition for PCs. It was published by UniDisc, Inc. and
distributed by Britannica Software, Inc. The copy on the right
is the second edition produced for the Commodore Amiga in 1993.
Another variant of the CD-ROM editions was the Guinness CDTV
Book of Records, produced by Commodore in the 1990s. The copy
pictured left is the first edition from 1991.
CD-ROM: In the 1990s, Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. produced the Guinness Multimedia Disc of Records. The "big box" edition (1994, left) came with a special Grolier copy of the Bantam 1994 Guinness Book of Records. The 1993, 1994 Macintosh and 1996 editions are pictured above and right.
DVD: In 2004, a 2-disc interactive DVD game was produced
by Zoo Digital Publishing to celebrate the "50th
Anniversary" of the book.
From 2005, a Hasbro (Tiger Electronics) personal video disc.
- Guinness World Records the Videogame: In 2008, a
collection of 36 mini-games for the Nintendo Wii (left) and the
Nintendo DS (right) was produced by TT Games Publishing Ltd and
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
3D: With the assistance of Sterling Publishing, GAF
Corporation produced a three-reel View-Master "Guinness Book of
Records" set in 1978 (Packet J24, left). The pack contained a
small 16-page booklet with photographs, additional information
and a brief quiz.
Tapes: In 1979, Ivan Berg Associates (Audio Publishing)
Limited produced two Mindbender Quiz audio cassettes (GC1),
based on the
1980 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. The cassettes
came in a 171x122mm box with a small instruction sheet. Each
game was introduced and explained by Norris McWhirter.
8-track Cartridge: An audio tape (for the 2-XL robot) produced for Mego Corp., New York, N.Y. 10010 (© Sterling Publishing Co., 1978).
What was the
longest frankfurter ever made? Who was the shortest woman who
ever lived? What is the world's hopscotch record? Hundreds of
challenging questions from the "Guinness Book of World Records"
for hours of fun.
Film: At least 3 reels of Super 8mm film ("Guinness Book Of World Records") were produced in the 1970s. The films included "unique motion pictures of World record human achievements in sports, nature, science!"(photo: Bruce Read)
Stage: In early 2003, Guinness World Records and M4 Entertainment Ltd. presented the Officially Amazing Science Live! theatre show. Sadly, the show - which was scheduled for 47 venues across the UK - closed before the end of its tour.
Collectors of beer mats (tegestologists) have a wide range of Guinness beer mats to collect. In the early 1960s, Guinness produced some beer mats celebrating "5 Million Guinness daily" and "Guinness - Him Strong", which had records from the Guinness Book of Records on the reverse.
We also have a later beer mat - "Guinness The record breaker" - with a set of 12 questions on the reverse and the hint, "You'll find the answers in the Guinness Book of Records".
A series of 10 beer mats advertising the 1982 German edition had world record questions on the reverse and the number of the page in the book where the answer could be found.
Stamps and First Day Covers
A number of stamps - and first day covers - related to the Guinness Book of Records (and to records themselves) have been produced over the years. We have a selection of these and there are others available, so this is an interesting part of collecting record-related items:
Throughout its history, Guinness has been extremely good at marketing its products, both for itself or in association with others. Guinness Superlatives, and latterly Guinness World Records, have also been very active in this area. We have accumulated a few items produced for promotional purposes, and some of these will be documented here.
The Guinness Book of Records was rightly regarded as a serious reference book in its earlier years. As a result, many schools in the 1950s, 60s and 70s chose the book as one of the awards in the end of year prize-giving. We know of several people who received the book as a prize during their school years.
Some schools embossed their copies with the school badge and motto, and a small number of these have appeared on auction sites and in second-hand bookshops. One such copy is a 1958 edition with a school badge embossed in gold on the front cover. The badge (pictured right) shows a heron, with the motto "Abeunt Studia in Mores" underneath. Some research shows that this is likely to have come from Wanstead High School in London.
In addition to the above copy, we know of a 1968 edition (left) from Deacon's School in Peterborough (now the Thomas Deacon Academy). Inside, a certificate shows that the book was awarded by the headmaster to K Clarke (form 5) on the school's speech day in 1969.
In 2010, Jackie and Neil McLeod found an early 1956 copy from Newcastle High School (logo pictured right), which has the motto, "Schola novi castelli nunquam non nova". This would appear to be from Newcastle-under-Lyme School.
If you know of any other school editions, please let us know.
Company Gifts and Promotions
In a similar vein to the School Prize editions, some companies sent copies of the Guinness Book of Records with company-related inserts to their customers. One example is from James Fairley Steels, who added the following sticker to the acknowledgements page of the 1979 (25th) edition:
Another such company release was a copy of the 1975 (22nd) edition with a banner promoting Lever Brothers toilet soaps, including Shield Deodorant Soap (pictured right).