THE WEMBLEY LION.
thought members might be interested in the following article which
appeared in 'The Bookseller and the Stationery Trades Journal' July
is no emblem of the present year which is more universally seen, or
which possesses deeper significance, than the Wembley Lion. It will
therefore interest our readers to know that it was originated in the
studios of our printers, Messrs. Saunders Phillips & Co. Ltd., at
The Baynard Press, Brixton, S.W.9. who since their removal from the
site of the old Baynard Castle in Upper Thames Street, four years
ago, have captured with a rush a reputation for designing and
printing of the very first order.
lion himself may be treated pictorially in many ways, but the one for
the British Empire Exhibition was intended to express strength,
firmness, and a serene confidence. This it does, and although they
may not consciously realise it, thousands are impressed and inspired
by this masterly conception of what the British Empire is.
of anything entirely new is easy, and the Empire Lion has not
escaped. A correspondent of a daily paper, rashly daring, suggested
as an improvement what would actually have been a fall from the
sublime to the ridiculous. His letter was noted by that scholarly
commentator, 'The Londoner', and criticised in its turn. The comments
on the design are so true and informative that the following extracts
may well be placed on record here.
I am still living and learning. Yesterday I gained something which I
had not known before. I took it from a letter to the editor of the
Daily Mail. "Sir" said a gentleman, addressing himself to
the Editor, "the lion shown on the Wembley advertisments has its
tail down, like a Belgian lion. The British lion always is depicted
with its tail up. Is it too late to alter it ?
answer to that question must be, yes. That picture of the Wembley
Lion must have gone all round the world and back again. No lion in
all the world is now more familiar to the eye than this one, which is
badge and ensign of the great Wembley Exhibition of 1924.
I would say that it were a pity to change him for another lion whose
tail should point upward to the skies. For he is a noble lion,
haughty and valiant as any in the tales of the old books. I fancy
that the artist who imagined him, who did not copy him out of a
picture book, must have been well pleased to see his work when, with
a few strokes of the brush, he had made such a lion, so thick of
mane, so mighty and terrible.
for the British Lion, I am almost ready to say that the Wembley Lion
is the first British lion. Therefore, if you would know how a British
lion should carry its tail, look about you for the Exhibition
posters, and see a lion with much dignity in its sweep.
artists learned that a shaggy lion was Britannia's household pet, to
be pictured as sitting beside her knee, they drew the lion's tail in
the fashion that was most to their taste. And now you have the
British Lion set out by authority. He is indeed a noble scion, as a
despairing poet said, but his tail does not point upwards like the
tail of my pussycat when she comes stepping delicately into a room
whose door has been opened at her command."
© Exhibition Study Group 1992