Nimmo’s Clyde Classics

W.P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell, Ltd. (Edinburgh, London, UK)
Series dates: 1903-1928
Size: 6″ x 4″

aka/ Nimmo’s Celebrated Clyde Classics, Clyde Classics

Revised 7/10/2023

Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell seems to have been established in the 1850s and published books until about 1970. The firm is sometimes listed as William P. Nimmo (in WorldCat). The peak publishing years for the firm were from the 1860s through the 1920s. The focus over many of these years was on juvenile series, especially reward and gift books. They did publish non-juvenile series, including Standard Authors (published from the 1870s through 1910s) and the very tiny Nimmo’s Miniatures (1902-1922).

Like Nimmo’s Miniatures, Nimmo’s Clyde Classics were a gift series: typically selected poetry or prose and compilations, compact in size and limited in pages. In some ways, the economy of these books was dictated by the same forces as pulp fiction series (such as the F.P. Library): brief, small books used less material and could be sold cheaply with a profit. The Clyde Classics were, in comparison to many of the pulp series, elevated in literary content and also in quality (such as paper) but were intended to make a profit by limiting material costs.

The earliest mention of the Clyde Classics (named after the street the publisher was located on in Edinburgh) I’ve found is in 1903, with 24 volumes in the series. The last volume, #35, appears sometime before 1924. Advertisements appear through 1928. A series list can be found below, although one series number (#20) has not been identified.

Nimmo shared addresses in Edinburgh and London with publisher Sampson Low in the late 1800s, at least through the 1920s, suggesting some kind of connection between those two publishers. There are also co-publications with the publisher Gowans and Gray.

Selected advertisements for Nimmo’s Clyde Classics, 1903-1920:

The Publishers’ Circular, Sept. 26, 1903: 24 volumes

The Publishers’ Circular, Oct. 9, 1909

The Publishers’ Circular, Nov. 11, 1916

The Publishers’ Circular, Aug. 14, 1920.

The Bookman Christmas, 1920 (read the fine print!)

A 1924 Nimmo catalog from the Reference Catalogue of Current Literature (1924, vol. 5) includes the Clyde Classics in addition to many other series and books from Nimmo.

The last mention I can find of the series is in 1928, in the Bookseller: A Newspaper of British and Foreign Literature.

This copy of Wordsworth’s Poems is undated and probably a reprint from sometime around 1920 (given the price, see the advertisements above). The jackets for the series are pleasant, using art by Scottish painter John Blair on the jacket front, wrapping around to the back (as well as on the book endpapers, front and back). The spine contains the title alone, the front is more crowded by the series name (in this case, adding “Celebrated” to the name [a moniker used in some advertising]), the title, a list of included titles, the price (2/- net), publisher and imprint. The front jacket flap begins the list of titles in the series, and the two versions: “Silk Grained Cloth” for 2/-net and “Velvet, Persian, Yap, Boxed” for 5/- net.

The rear jacket flap continues the series of titles. In this case, #19 and #20 are missing, and #35 is yet to be added to the list. #27 to #32 use a peculiar indicator (“Do”) for what I would assume you should use a double apostrophe: to indicate these titles are all “Poems of” Pleasure, Love, Life, etc. “By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.” Weird.

A list of titles in the series. I’ve added #19 and #35, which were found in other sources. I cannot find a title for #20.

1 Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.
2. Tennyson’s Poems (Selected).
3. Robert Browning’s Poems.
4. Longfellow’s Poems.
5. Christina Rossetti’s Poems.
6. Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s Poems. (100 Selected Poems)
7. Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies.
8. City Poems. By ALEX. SMITH, Author of “Dreamthorp” “Summer in Skye,” etc.
9. Bush Ballads. 1833 to 1876. An Australian Anthology.
10. Favourite Essays of Emerson.
11. Poems and Songs of Robert Burns.
12. Poems of Whittier.
13. Poems of Wordsworth.
14. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. With Notes and Bibliography of Omar.
15. Poems of Matthew Arnold.
16. Songs and Ballads of Scott.
*17. In the Footsteps of R.L.S. By J. Patrick Findlay.
*18. Rab and his Friends, and Other Dog Stories. By DR JOHN BROWN.
*19. Lyric Masterpieces by Living Authors. Selected by Adam L. Gowans. (source)
*20. ?
21. Sonnets from the Portuguese, and other Poems. By E.B. BROWNING.
22 A Garland of Friendship. An Anthology in Prose and Verse.
23. Thoughts from Charlotte Bronte.
24. Love’s Crown-Poems by Annie S. Swan.
25. A Christmas Carol. By CHARLES DICKENS.
26. Poems of Passion. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
27. Poems of Pleasure. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
28. Poems of Love. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
29. Poems of Life. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
30. Poems of Cheer. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
31. Poems of Hope. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
32. Poems of Reflection. By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
33. A Garland of Patriotism. An Anthology. Including Poems on the Present War. By NEWBOLT, SEAMAN, and Others.
34. The Gates Ajar. By ELIZABETH S. PHELPS. “A book to cheer and comfort.” (1917)
**35. Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Arranged for Dramatic Recital. By Frank Speaight (issued in “Frank Speaight’s Dramatic Recitals from Dickens” in 1919)

*Not included in the 1924 Nimmo catalog from the Reference Catalog of Current Literature
New title from the 1924 Nimmo catalog from the reference Catalog of Current Literature

The “silk grained cloth” – whatever that may be – covers have the title in gold on the spine and a debossed art nouveau (deco?) design along with the title on the front of the book.

The front endpapers repeating the artwork from the jacket:

The half-title page:

A painting, also by Blair, faces the title page.

“Printed by R. Mitchell and Sons, Edinburgh and Published by W.P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell, Ltd. Edinburgh: 18 Clyde Street, London: 100 Southwark Street”