The Penrose Annual was a British based review of the graphic arts, printed annually most years from 1895 to 1982.
Each edition was divided into sections which included articles in the fields of printing, commercial art, typography, book design, posters, illustration and related areas – plus technical articles on printing and typesetting. These articles included the latest developments in printing technology, but also looked back to the best of the past.
Many of the in depth articles, written by leaders in their fields – still have excellent reference and research value.
The advertising section at the end of the publication was substantial and often showcased in brilliant fashion the latest from each firm advertising – wether it be about paper, ink, printing technology, typesetting or photography. Many of these ads were superbly designed and printed multi page spreads and to my mind (as someone not in the industry but purely interested in the history of print and graphic graphic design) often the highlight of each edition.
For a well written, in depth article about the importance of Penrose have a read of THIS article in Eye Magazine 2006.
…and from Wikipedia a concise summary:
The 1938 edition was notable for its text and binding designed by Jan Tschichold. Articles in issues from that era were authored by Beatrice Warde, Stanley Morison, Moholy-Nagy, Nikolaus Pevsner and other leading design writers. Allan Delafons edited Penrose from 1958 through 1962. Lund Humphries then had Typographica editor Herbert Spencer edit the annual from 1964 through 1973. Spencer’s modernist impact on the Penrose was immediate: his first cover is printed with a stark gothic sans serif at roughly a 40° angle to the spine.
Penrose’s content was significant in bridging technical aspects of printing and artistic aspects of design. According to St Bride librarian Nigel Roche, “Its importance then was largely as a link between disparate areas of the trade. Its importance today is in the seminal articles that it published that still have reference value: monographs on individuals; articles on various matters of typesetting.
The publication was most substantial (in size and influence) in the 1950s and 1960s.