Who Remembers “Bancroft Tiddlers”? Here’s a checklist…

Plugging into humans’ innate desire to collect things, Bancroft Tiddlers was a series of pocket-size books published in the 1960s, spanning over 40-plus separate titles and covering a wide range of subjects. However, until recently, I hadn’t spotted that at least one comic artist, Jon Davis, who drew strips for TV21 and Countdown, was one of the illustrators who worked on the series – and so was Doctor Who artist Walt Howarth and Eagle‘s Desmond Walduck.

Launched in 1965, Jon’s son Ethan alerted me to Jon’s involvement, discovering he had illustrated “Heroes of the Wild West” (Book 19), and I’ve since located “Pirates” (Book 29) and “Spies” (Book 44).

Art and text from Bancroft Tiddlers 19 - Heroes of the Wild West. Art by TV21 and Countdown artist Jon Davis
Art and text from Bancroft Tiddlers 19 – Heroes of the Wild West. Art by TV21 and Countdown artist Jon Davis

Other artists involved included Walter Howarth (best known, perhaps, for his work on the Doctor Who annuals), EAGLE artist Desmond Walduck, and Gordon C. Davies, who Steve Holland notes over on Bear Alley was a prolific book cover artist from the 1950s to the 1980s, most notably on a great many science fiction books as he was a very good artist of technology, from trains and planes to spaceships, and military subjects which included hardware.

Bancroft, later part of Purnell & Sons by the time later books in the range were released in 1969, published a wide range of titles from its London offices, including children’s classics such as Alice in Wonderland and cut-out model books.

I remember collecting some of these as a kid. The first 12 books, released in 1965, do not include either writer or artist credits and later ones just the artist, so if anyone has further information, please do let us know!

You can find most Bancroft Tiddlers on eBay (one seller has plenty on offer, in particular) nd secondhand bookshop sites, some priced more reasonably than others. Each book measures just 8.5cm x 6cm so they are often sought after by cigarette card collectors, too.

The credits listed below are either from copies of the books or photographs of items offered for sale on eBay or secondhand

Bancroft Tiddlers 1 National Costumes

1 National Costumes
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1865)

Bancroft Tiddlers 2 Wild Flowers

2 Wild Flowers
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 3 - Famous Battles

3 Famous Battles
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 4 - Famous Explorers

4 Famous Explorers
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

5 Sports Cars
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 6 Giants of Sport I

6 Giants of Sport I
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited – Walter Howarth illustrated Giants of Sport II (1965)
• The Football Cartophilic Info Exchange has details pf the sports personalities featured in this title here

Bancroft Tiddlers Tropical Birds

7 Tropical Birds
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 8 - Rare Animals

8 Rare Animals
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 9 - Inventors and Scientists

9 Inventors and Scientists
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 10 Passenger Planes

10 Passenger Planes
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers 11 - Famous Bridges

11 Famous Bridges
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (1965)

Bancroft Tiddlers - 12 Railway Engines

12 Railway Engines
Writer: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited (19655)

Bancroft Tiddlers - Freaks of Nature

13 Freaks of Nature
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 14 How a Ship is Built

14 How a Ship is Built
By George Tuckwell (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 15 - Soldiers

15 Soldiers
By Eric Kincaid (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 16 - Beetles

16 Beetles
By David Cook (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers Nations at War: Rome and Carthage

17 Nations at War: Rome and Carthage
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Michael Whittlesea (1966)

Writer, artist and editor. Brian Innes, who died in 2014, was a production consultant at Bancroft in the 1960s. He also owned the book production company Immediate Books and was the former percussionist of surrealistic 1960s band The Temperance Seven. Over a long career in publishing his credits include art director of the part work, Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Supernatural, published by Purnell in the 1970s. He is perhaps best known for his work as a crime writer.

There’s a guide to his career here on Encyclopedia.com and an obituary here on The Guardian web site | Brian Innes works available on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Bancroft Tiddlers 18 Life under the Sea

18 Life under the Sea
By Ian Gerrard (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 19 - Heroes of the Wild West

19 Heroes of the Wild West
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Jon Davis (1966)
Read our tribute to artist Jon Davis MBE, who died in 2020

Bancroft Tiddlers 20 - Pistols

20 Pistols
By Trevor Parkin (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 21 Famous Castles

21 Famous Castles
By Peter Morter (1966)

Peter’s many art credits include illustrations for The English Country House in Perspective by Gervase Jackson-Stops

Bancroft Tiddlers 22 Giants of Sport II

22 Giants of Sport II
By Walter Howarth (1966)
• The Football Cartophilic Info Exchange has details pf the sports personalities featured in this title here

Walt Howarth, long-time illustrator of annuals and covers for World Distributors Ltd., died on Thursday 13th March 2008, aged of 80. Steve Holland has a tribute here on Bear Alley. “Howarth’s ability to capture a likeness meant that he became WDL’s leading artist,” Steve notes, “producing covers for most of their annuals; as these were primarily westerns and Howarth was keen to make them as authentic as possible, he became something of an expert on costumes, weapons and other aspects of the wild west.”

Bancroft Tiddlers 23 Balloons and Airships

23 Balloons & Airships
By John Watson (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 24 - Famous Motor Races

24 Famous Motor Races
By Michael Whittlesea (1966)

Born in London in 1938, Michael Whittlesea also worked on Look and Learn magazine. He is, today, a professional artist, online at www.michael-whittlesea.co.uk

Bancroft Tiddlers 25 Famous Churches

25 Famous Churches
Writer: Pippa King Artist: Desmond Walduck (1966?)

Desmond Eric Walduck (1920 – 1995) was a Islington-born freelance artist perhaps best known for his work on “Dan Dare” for Eagle, joining the team in the early 1950s. His major task was finishing the artwork of other artists, most notably Frank Hampson. He also worked on some episodes himself, such as the end of “Operation Saturn” in 1954 and the complete episode “Prisoners of Space” in 1955-56. He also drew “Sammy in Space”, with Bruce Cornwell, for Swift, “Red Devil Dean” (1955-56) for Express Weekly, and “Slaves of War Orphan Farm” (1971) for Tammy.

Bancroft Tiddlers 26 Beautiful Butterflies

26 Beautiful Butterflies
By Ian Gerrard (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 27 - 27 Famous Craftsmen

27 Famous Craftsmen
Writer: Neil Powell Artist: Trevor Parkin (1967)

Neil Powell is a nom de plume of Brian Innes, whose career as a writer is noted above

Bancroft Tiddlers 28 - Prehistoric Animals

28 Prehistoric Animals
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1966)

Bancroft Tiddlers 29 Pirates-00

29 Pirates
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Jon Davis (No Publication Date)
Read our tribute to artist Jon Davis MBE, who died in 2020

30 Veteran Cars
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1966?)

Bancroft Tiddlers 31 Nations at War: American Civil War

31 Nations at War: American Civil War
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Michael Whittlesea (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 32 Sailing Ships

32 Sailing Ships
Writer: Frank Smyth Artist: Peter Griffin (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 33 Musical Instruments

33 Musical Instruments
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Ian Gerard (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 34 Birds of Prey

34 Birds of Prey
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 35 - Secrets of Space

35 Secrets of Space
By Gordon C. Davies (1967)
• Steve Holland has a checklist of some of Gordon’s credits here on Bear Alley

Bancroft Tiddlers 36 - Oil

36 Oil
By John Watson (1967)

Bancroft Tiddlers 37 - Money

37 Money
By George Tuckwell (1969)

38 How a Car is Made
By Peter Morter? (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 39 Famous Palaces

39 Famous Palaces
Writer: Alan Blackwood Artist: John Ross (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers - 40 Nations at War (The Crusades)

40 Nations at War (The Crusades)
Writer: Geoffrey Watson Artist: Michael Whittlesea (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 41 - Reptiles

41 Reptiles
By Denys Ovenden (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 42 - Famous Generals

42 Famous Generals
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 43 - Prehistoric Men

43 Prehistoric Men
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 44 - Spies

44 Spies
Writer: Brian Innes Artist: Jon Davis (1969)
Read our tribute to artist Jon Davis MBE, who died in 2020

Bancroft Tiddlers 45 Famous Fighter Planes

45 Famous Fighter Planes
By Gordon C. Davies (1969)
• Steve Holland has a checklist of some of Gordon’s credits here on Bear Alley

Bancroft Tiddlers 46 Famous Clocks

46 Famous Clocks
Writer: BJ Wilson Artist: Trevor Parkin (1969)

47 Big Cats
By Denys Ovenden (1969)

Bancroft Tiddlers 48 History of Fashion

48 History of Fashion
Writer: Unknown Artist: Unknown (1969?)

The credits listed here are either from copies of the books or photographs of items offered for sale on eBay or secondhand. Additional information is welcomed

With thanks to Ethan Davis

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Art and Illustration, Books News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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