Patrick Tilley commissioned Busy Bees Nos. 3, 8 & 9 from an artist whose initials were probably "PB". Unfortunately, the relevant records to identify him have been lost, but his style is familiar & hopefully you or another visitor may recognise it, & then let us (or the artist himself) know. It won't be the first time we've been given a hot lead that way!
UPDATE: Now, this one's tricky. I asked Quentin Blake if these transfer figures were by his hand, & his assistant wouldn't let me talk to him directly, but told me he was sure that "after all this time he wished me well". What could that possibly mean, other than that he had had a poor relationship with Patrick Tilley (which Patrick himself had said would be the case with all his artists), & that he assumed I would report back to Patrick (this being before Patrick died). Obviously I don't want to pester him again… but I would say it's 99% certain Quentin Blake drew these.
These transfer figures were not drawn in his usual style, but this could well have been the case in order to deal with the limitations of the medium, & to fit in with the general style of the other Busy Bee packs. We've made careful comparisons with his early works (particularly in Punch, which we do not have permission to reproduce here), & we've found it pretty convincing. — You be the Judge!
The panels in the next section appear to be taken from a used set, but in fact they are something far better than that: they're Patrick Tilley's test sheets — used to ensure the transfers worked correctly against the backgrounds.
Note the typographical correction on the "Hansel and Gretel" panel.
For a very long while we were unable to obtain a copy of this set, but thanks to member of SPLAT paper-jenni (Jenny Wilkinson) who kindly agreed to swap her set for some valueless beans, we now have an unused copy to show you.
There's a long & funny story attached to this; but perhaps another time…
Picture Credit: Patrick Tilley / paper-jenni
© Tom Vinelott 2023