Abbey Classics

Chapman & Dodd (London, UK)
Series dates: 1920-1937
Size: 7″ x 4.5″

Simpkin Marshall & Co. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1920-1937
Size: 7″ x 4.5″

Small Maynard (Boston, USA)
Series dates: 1920-1937
Size: 7″ x 4.5″

Remainder Centre, Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1941-1943
Size: 7″ x 4.5″

abbey_spines

“We can remember no series of reprints which began as auspiciously as the Abbey Classics. None, we think, has been better produced, and certainly none better selected.”
–– Spectator.

The scholarly Abbey Classics are an example of a series that was published simultaneously by several different publishers. Chapman & Dodd and Simpkin Marshall imprints can be found on UK copies of the series, with same range of publication dates. Copies were also published in the US by Small Maynard of Boston. Both US and UK lists reach 24 titles, with a few variations (listed at the end, below). The series was briefly resurrected (eight titles) by the enticingly named Remainder Centre Ltd. in 1941.

The UK copies vary only in the Publisher’s name on the book title page. Both of my UK copies indicate Simpkin on the book’s spine, but one indicates Chapman & Dodd on the title page.  The US copies have different dust jackets, binding and a slightly different list of titles.

An advertisement for the series from the Times (London) 8 Dec. 1922 (page 18):

abbey_classics_ad_times_dec1922

This copy of Sir James Melville’s Memoirs of His Own Life is the first title in the series and is undated, but probably early in the series’ life, in the early or mid-1920s. It has the imprint of Chapman & Dodd on both the jacket and in the book, and a 3/2 net price, but is also stamped .50 cents, so it was sold in the US (and at that price, potentially a remainder). It uses the common jacket design also used on the Simpkin copies from the series. The series name is on the jacket spine, and a description of the book on the very large front jacket flap.

Thirteen titles are listed in the series, which would eventually reach 24 titles. The 50 cent price indication seems to be printed on the rear flap, but after the jacket was printed. The rear of the jacket is blank.

Blue cloth binding with gold typography and decorations. The abbey colophon is debossed on the front of the book.

The decorated half title page includes decorations as well as the series name and book title and author.

The decorated title page:

The copyright page has no information besides Cahill & Co., Ltd. as the printer.

The UK jacket, below, compared to the US jacket (further below):

abbey_simpkin_dj1

The US jackets are also commonly designed for the series, and slightly different in design:

abbey_small_dj2

The titles in the UK and US series are nearly similar with a few variations; both lists are transcribed (below). The UK list is printed on the jacket rear flap:

abbey_simkin_titles

The US list is printed on the back jacket cover.

abbey_small_titles

Abbey Classics Titles

UK Abbey Classics:

1. SIR JAMES MELVILLE OF HALHILL. Memoirs of his own life. Intro. by W. Mackay Mackenzie.
2. WILLIAM BECKFORD. Vathek. Intro. by R. Brimley Johnson.
3. WILLIAM BECKFORD. The Episodes of Vathek. Intro. by Lewis Melville.
4. STERNE. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
5. COBBETT. Journal of a Year’s Residence in America. Intro. by John Freeman.
6. APULEIUS. The Golden Asse. (Adlington’s Translation, 1566).
7. VOLTAIRE. Candide. Intro. by A.B. Walkley.
8. PETER BECKFORD. Thoughts on Hunting. Intro. by Charles Richardson.
9. DISRAELI. The Letters of Runnymede. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
10. VOLTAIRE. Zadig, or Destiny.
11. HERMAN MELVILLE. Mardi. Vol. 1.
12. HERMAN MELVILLE. Mardi. Vol. 2.
13. LONGUS. Daphnis & Chloe. (Thornley’s Translation, 1657.) Intro. by George Saintsbury.
14. JOHN GAY. Poems. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
15. JOHN GAY. Plays. Vol. I.
16. JOHN GAY. Plays. Vol. II.
17. ERASMUS. Twenty Select Colloquies. (L’Eatrange’s Translation, 1680.) Intro. by Charles Whibley.
18. PETRONIUS. The Satyricon. (Burnaby’s Translation, 1694.) Intro. by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
19. PRIOR. Shorter Poems. lntro. by Francis Bickley.
20. DONNE. Devotions and Death’s Duell. lntro. by William H. Draper.
21. DEFOE. Moll Flanders. lntro. by W.H. Davies.
22. DEFOE. Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress. Intro. by R. Brimley Johnson.
23. HELIODORUS. The Aethiopian History. (Underdowne’s Translation.) Intro. by George Saintsbury.
24. JOHNSON. Journal of a Tour in the Western Islands. lntro. by John Freeman.

US Abbey Classics List:
* = different in US list from UK list
** = different in US list from UK list, possibly not published.

1. SIR JAMES MELVILLE OF HALHILL. Memoirs of his own life. Intro. by W. Mackay Mackenzie.
2. WILLIAM BECKFORD. Vathek. Intro. by R. Brimley Johnson.
3. WILLIAM BECKFORD. The Episodes of Vathek. Intro. by Lewis Melville.
4. STERNE. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
5. COBBETT. Journal of a Year’s Residence in America. Intro. by John Freeman.
6. APULEIUS. The Golden Asse. (Adlington’s Translation, 1566).
7. VOLTAIRE. Candide. Intro. by A.B. Walkley.
8. PETER BECKFORD. Thoughts on Hunting. Intro. by Charles Richardson.
9. DISRAELI. The Letters of Runnymede. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
*10. LORD CHESTERFIELD. Letters to his Son.
*11. BENJAMIN SWIFT. Gulliver’s Travels.
12. HERMAN MELVILLE. Mardi.
13. LONGUS. Daphnis & Chloe. (Thornley’s Translation, 1657.) Intro. by George Saintsbury.
14. JOHN GAY. Poems. Intro. by Francis Bickley.
15. JOHN GAY. Plays. Vol. I.
16. JOHN GAY. Plays. Vol. II.
17. ERASMUS. Twenty Select Colloquies. (L’Eatrange’s Translation, 1680.) Intro. by Charles Whibley.
18. PETRONIUS. The Satyricon. (Burnaby’s Translation, 1694.) Intro. by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
19. PRIOR. Shorter Poems. lntro. by Francis Bickley.
20. DONNE. Devotions and Death’s Duell. lntro. by William H. Draper.
**21. HELOISE & ABELARD. The Letters.
**22. ANTHONY HAMILTON. The Memoirs of Gramont.
23. HELIODORUS. The Aethiopian History. (Underdowne’s Translation.) Intro. by George Saintsbury.
24. JOHNSON. Journal of a Tour in the Western Islands. lntro. by John Freeman.


While the Abbey Classics series faded away in the late 1930s, the series was reissued, briefly, in the early 1940s, by the London-based Remainder Centre Ltd. The Remainder Centre was either binding unbound sheets or reprinting titles from Simpkin Marshall’s plates, having acquired the stock of Simpkin Marshall’s Remainder Department in 1940.

The Remainder Center Ltd. initially (in 1940) established offices at 112 Fetter Lane in London, which were destroyed by German bombs in 1941. Their stock, however, survived, having been stored elsewhere. A new office, and possibly store, was established at 2-3 Norfolk St, Strand and, not long afterward, 187 Piccadilly in London. Catalogs were issued by 1943 (possibly earlier) and undoubtedly contained diverse remaindered titles from different publishers along with, possibly, some reprints (from plates or left over unbound stock). Another move to 7-9 Oxford Circus Ave occurred in 1953. Advertisements can be found until 1955. Remainder Centre Ltd. later appears as a subsidiary of World Distributors (1961) and the religious publisher Marshall, Morgan & Scott, Ltd (1972). A notice in the London Gazette (Dec. 30, 1982) indicates a company named Remainder Center Ltd. was being liquidated.

The reissued Abbey Classics are the only books that appear with the Remainder Centre Ltd. imprint in WorldCat, suggesting it was a one-off effort taking advantage of left over Simpkin & Marshall unbound stock or plates from the series.

The jackets for the reissued Abbey Classics are on heavy red paper and are common for the series. They are new jacket designs, not reused designs from the earlier editions of the series. The jacket spine includes the title and author, along with the Remainder Centre imprint. The jacket front just the title and author, in a framed box. The series is advertised on the front jacket flap.

The size of the book is Foolscap 8vo: 6¾” by 4¼” – a bit smaller than the original books. The description notes the limp cloth binding, somewhere between a soft and hardcover binding. 8 titles are included on the jacket, with “Other Volumes to Follow.” No titles seem to have been issued beyond these eight.

Remainder Centre Reissues (1941)

1 (was 22): DEFOE. Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress. Intro. by R. Brimley Johnson.
2 (was 21): DEFOE. Moll Flanders. lntro. by W.H. Davies.
3 (was 7): VOLTAIRE. Candide. Intro. by A.B. Walkley.
4 (was 6): APULEIUS. The Golden Asse. (Adlington’s Translation, 1566).
5 (was 10): VOLTAIRE. Zadig, or Destiny.
6 (was 13): LONGUS. Daphnis & Chloe. (Thornley’s Translation, 1657.) Intro. by George Saintsbury.
7 (was 18): PETRONIUS. The Satyricon. (Burnaby’s Translation, 1694.) Intro. by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
8 (was 4): STERNE. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Intro. by Francis Bickley.

The jacket includes the Remainder Centre Ltd. address: 2-3 Norflok Street, Strand, W.C. 1.

This copy of Zadig: or Destiny, An Eastern History “translated out of the French of Voltaire,” was #5 in the Remainder Centre series, and #10 in the original series.

Two remaindered books, The Dictionary of Universal Biography and The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio are advertised on the rear jacket flap and rear of the dust jacket.

The binding is thin cloth glued to cardboard – thus binding in boards, sort of. This is one of those binding styles that is somewhere between paperback and hardcover. The green cloth binding has green printed typography and text that replicates that used on the jacket spine and front cover.

The half title page:

The title page. This has been modified to include the Remainder Centre imprint, thus at least the title page was reprinted. The rest of the title page is the same as the earlier editions. Also notice the title page is cut off along the right hand side, suggesting the paper was a bit smaller in this version of the series. The corners of the text are also trimmed (they were not on the original series). The trimmed corners and new imprint suggests that the Remainder Centre was actually reprinting the series, rather than binding left over sheets.

The copyright page includes “Printed in Great Britain by Simpson Shand Ltd., London and Hertford.” This printer was in existence as early as 1918, so this may be left over from the original printing plates.


The Abbey Classics name was adopted for an unrelated series of classics in the 1950s.