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Rare Penguin Donkey Mark II 1963 Bookcase By Ernest Race For Isokon

A rare find, this Penguin Donkey Mark II bookcase, designed by Ernest Race in 1963 and manufactured by Isokon for Penguin Books. It’s a small, double-sided bookcase and magazine unit – magazines and papers store in the middle section and the open, sectioned sides were designed to house Penguin paperback classics. Ernest Race is renowned as one of the leading lights in great British twentieth-century furniture design, a true pioneer, creating contemporary pieces from unusual materials in ground-breaking ways. The history of this particular bookcase is also really interesting. The original ‘Donkey’ bookcase dates back to the 1930s and was designed by Egon Riss. It was so-called because the rounded shape looked like saddle panniers. Only around 100 of this design were ever made and production stopped before the war took over. Ernest race took up the mantel in 1963, redesigning it as an altogether more modern, clean-lined version for storing orange Penguin paperbacks and these were sold via mail order to Penguin readers and collectors. It may be small but this is a mighty, iconic piece of attributed midcentury design rarely seen.

SKU: W249


This original, vintage piece is ‘sold as seen’. It’s in good, vintage condition. We have carefully cleaned this piece. It is solid and sturdy with no movement in any of the shelf joints or the legs. It retains its original white painted finish which has not been touched up at any point, so there are numerous scuffs and chips, and small areas of paint damage. The top of the shelves have a little sun damage which has caused some crazing in the painted surface. There is also a small red mark on one of the shelves which cannot be removed without damaging the paintwork. Please refer to the photographs for an accurate representation of the condition of this piece. We feel the minor wear and tear is in line with the piece’s considerable age.

H: 40cm /  W: 53.5cm / D: 34-40.5cm