Guinness World Records: How a Brewery Launched a Book on Records

Did you know that The Guinness Book of Records resulted from a friendly disagreement about the fastest bird in the world? In the 1950s, Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness Brewery, missed a shot while hunting, then justified the miss by saying his target was the fastest bird in the world. There was no way to fact-check his claim, which sparked an idea. Beaver decided to publish a promotional book of records that could be used to settle future trivia arguments in pubs.

Newsday: May 10, 1988 – World’s Youngest Chess Champion and World’s Longest Hair

He hired twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter, who were fact-finding researchers, to start gathering data. Guinness Superlatives was incorporated in 1954 and operated from an office on London’s Fleet Street. The McWhirters worked long hours, gathering random facts for the book’s first edition.

The Charlotte Observer: February 23, 2010

The first Guinness Book of Records was published in 1955 and included records like the biggest baby (20 lbs. 2 oz.), the fastest elevator (15.9 mph at the R.C.A. building in Rockefeller Plaza), or the longest beard (nearly 12 feet). 

The book was an instant hit and was reprinted four times to meet demand – with that first edition selling more than 170,000 copies. The following year, the book was launched internationally. Publisher David Boehm secured publishing rights for the book in the United States, where it was known as The Guinness Book of World Records.

Enterprise-Record: February 11, 2003

Demand for The Guinness Book of Records remained strong and eventually settled into a pattern where the book was updated and published annually. The book’s popularity also brought licensing agreements that expanded the empire. Guinness-branded comic strips, board games, museums, and consumer products like paper cups, jump ropes, and greeting cards are just a few of the products that have carried the Guinness name.

The Guinness Book of Records is one of the world’s best-selling nonfiction books, and more than 153 million books have been sold. If you would like to learn more about the Guinness Book of Records or the history of Guinness & Co., search™ today.

In addition, explore Ancestry’s® new collection of Guinness & Co. Ireland employment records. These records are viewable for free through March 22 and may reveal clues about your Irish ancestors.  

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5 thoughts on “Guinness World Records: How a Brewery Launched a Book on Records

  1. I honestly think the insane gas prices and the push to ban gas (which electric is far more dirty and has evil secrets) is why newspapers dot com isn’t updating hardly anymore. Plus it’s ran by very old people whom are out of touch with reality even in the best of times but combine all that it’s a recipe for disaster. We voted it all in to hold our noses so remember that this election don’t vote on looks or what the media says! Vote on principal and protection of the country.

  2. As a result of this and deep corruption all the big tech people are falling apart. We are witnessing the beginnings/seeds of the Great Tech Crash. Likely the Tech Crash of 24 or 25. Either way it’s now unavoidable. The question remains how deep.

    This is why Video Games have come out boring and all the pretty ones say ‘Later 24’ which will likely translate to next year as we get closer. The companies are doing write off games for tax write offs for this coming fiscal year. Nintendo’s is this month which starts the clock for them. Nintendo’s business clock is still in 2023 though I think it just ended: till then as Japan does things differently which I won’t get into here.

    Nintendo sees the writing on the wall also for big tech while they aren’t having any lay offs (as of yet) I can’t help but think they aren’t aware of the (blank blank) economy and stupid things being done to make it keep going.

  3. The clipping about the Guinness Book of World records, was only a partial clip. The remainder of the article ran further down, and over 2 columns. I think that would be disappointing for the reader, to only have a partial article to read. Why wasn’t the rest of the article clipped?
    I have a membership, myself.

  4. Hi Darlene, sometimes we clip just a portion of the article to highlight a specific part. Anyone, however, can click on the clipping and see that entire page of the paper (even if they don’t have a subscription). Hope this helps.

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