Olive Classics

William Collins & Sons (aka/ Collins Clear-Type Press) (London, Glasgow, UK)
Series dates: 1930-1939; 1951-1964
Size: 4″ x 6″ (1930-39), 4.5″ x 7.25″ (1951-64)

The Olive Classics were a relabeled series, Collins’ Classics titles with a different series name. Collins’ Classics books were not typically sold in slipcases, thus the packaging is one difference between the Collins’ and Olive Classics. The books may have been an attempt to compete with the boxed New Century Library published by Nelson. In addition, the later (post-WW2 copy) below indicates “Exclusive to Boots” – suggesting the series may have been primarily sold in department stores.

Copies of the Life of Samuel Johnson, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, and A Child’s Garden of Verses are pre-WW2, undated, but two have 1939 inscriptions. The books are the same size as the pre-war Collins Classics titles. The books appear older in design, more 1920s than 1930s. Books are in olive green cardboard slipcases, and each has a plastic dust jacket.

The covers of the slipcovers have the only indication of the series name on the book in these pre-WW2 titles: if the slipcover is missing, one would not know the books are part of the Olive Classics. The series name is on paper, glued to the upper right corner of the front of the slipcover. “British Made” is debossed in the lower right corner of the front of the slipcover on each of the books below.

This copy of The Life of Samuel Johnson, like the other pre-WW2 Olive Classics, is bound in dark olive green leather with gold typography and decorations. A plastic dust jacket covers the book.

Pale olive, lightly marbled endpapers:

The half-title page:

A brief biography of the author is on the reverse of the half-title page. “Printed in Great Britain.”

A portrait of Johnson faces the title page. The series name here, as with the Collins’ Classics, is “Library of Classics.”

The Olive Classics were reissued after WW2, scaled up in size (as were the Collins’ Classics), but still slipcased. The series name is printed on the slipcases, as is “Exclusive to Boots.”

The slip-cover and spine of the book: the series name is now printed on the book’s spine, instead of the publisher. Thus post-WW2 titles in the Olive Classics can be identified if the slipcase is missing. I have not seen a copy with a dust jacket.

The same dark olive faux-leather binding is used, but now with silver typography and decorations.

The endpapers are typical post-WW2 Collins’ Classics endpapers (with the stylized CC). The bookplate shown is not affixed to the book but is loose in the book for the new owner to affix and sign. In this case, it does not look like the owner ever took the book out of the slipcase.

The half-title page (with the loose bookplate):

A portrait of the author faces the title page. Both have been updated and are identical to Collins’ Classics titles from the same era.

This title is dated 1958.