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British Industrial History

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William Collins, Sons and Co

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of 144 Cathedral Street, Glasgow, Scotland; and 4 Bridewell Place, London, EC4. Also Australia and New Zealand

William Collins (1789–1853) was a Scottish Presbyterian schoolmaster and publisher.

1789 William Collins was born near Glasgow.

1799 The earliest known diary in the Collins archive is dated 1799 and was printed for T. Willis of London.

1819 He set up a publishing business, with his first printing press in the ancient Candleriggs of Glasgow. He initially sold religious books, in partnership with Charles Chalmers, the younger brother of Thomas Chalmers, minister of Tron Church, Glasgow. Collins was a key figure in the city's transition from a relatively small manufacturing and university town into a great commercial metropolis.

1824 He produced the first Collins dictionary, when he also obtained a licence to publish the Bible.

1825 The company had to overcome many early obstacles; Charles Chalmers left the business in 1825.

1841 The company eventually found success as a printer of Bibles.

1848 Collins's son, Sir William Collins developed the firm as a publishing venture, specialising in religious and educational books.

1853 William Collins, who counted the Duke of Wellington among his associates, died in 1853 having secured the foundations of a business which followed the traditional Scottish pattern of combining printing and publishing as one concern.

1856 The first Collins Atlas was published.

1868 The company was renamed William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd.

1880 The company was registered on 2 January, to take over a business of public printers. [1]

1881 The first Collins diaries published for the mass market were dated 1881. There were five titles in the range with sales totalling 17,500 units.

1917 Although the early emphasis of the company had been on religion and education, Collins also published more widely. In 1917, with Sir Godfrey Collins in charge, the firm started publishing fiction.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Account Books, Memos, etc., Notepapers, Envelopes; Collins "Clear Type Press" Publications; Diaries. (Stand No. L.29) [2]

The Collins company moved into fiction including, in 1926, their first novel by Agatha Christie, and subsequently published all but the first six of her novels.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

1982 Also known as W. M. Collins Sons & Company Ltd

1989 William Collins and Sons merged with Harper and Row of the US to form HarperCollins Publishing.

1995 the stationary and diary division of HarperCollins, and the long established fountain logo, was acquired by Debden to form the company we know today as Collins Debden. Collins Debden are the UK's largest publishers of desk diaries for the office as well as dominating the analysis book sector with the famous Cathedral brand.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. 1922 British Industries Fair p18
  • [1] [2] Wikipedia
  • [3] Collins Debden Website
  • [4] HarperCollins Publishers Website