Pergamon Press

Last updated
Pergamon Press
Parent company Elsevier
Founder Paul Rosbaud
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters location Oxford
Nonfiction topicsScience and Medicine

Pergamon Press was an Oxford-based publishing house, founded by Paul Rosbaud and Robert Maxwell, that published scientific and medical books and journals. Originally called Butterworth-Springer, it is now an imprint of Elsevier.



The core company, Butterworth-Springer, started in 1948 to bring the "Springer know-how and techniques of aggressive publishing in science" [1] to Britain. Paul Rosbaud was the man with the knowledge. When Maxwell acquired the company in 1951, Rosbaud held a one-quarter share. [1] They changed the house name to Pergamon Press, using a logo that was a reproduction of a Greek coin from Pergamon. Maxwell and Rosbaud worked together growing the company until May 1956, when, according to Joe Haines, Rosbaud was sacked.

When Pergamon Press started it had only six serials and two books. Initially the company headquarters was in Fitzroy Square in West End of London. In 1959 the company moved into Headington Hill Hall, a country home rented from the city of Oxford.

In 1960 Brian Cox joined Pergamon Press as subscription manager. After the founders' deaths, Cox has become the primary witness to the phenomenal rise of Pergamon Press in the Science, Technology, and Medicine (STM) sector of publishing. The 59 Pergamon academic journals in 1960 became 418 journals in 1992. Cox recalls that in the process some 700 were launched, many transmogrifying rather than ceasing. Cox says "The secret of Pergamon's success was to publish a large number of journals, so that the established titles could support the new ones during their formative years". [2]

In 1962 Pergamon Press started the series called The Commonwealth and International Library of Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Liberal Studies. By 1970 this series had 1000 titles. Brian Cox says that in all, Pergamon published 7,000 monographs for various authors. [2]

In 1964 Pergamon Press became a public company. With its growth and export performance, the company was a recipient of one of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise in 1966. That year saw construction of a new office block and warehouse at Headington Hill. Pergamon ventured to produce an Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics, in nine volumes and four supplements in the decade from 1961.

In 1969, Maxwell lost control of Pergamon and was ejected from the board. [3] An inquiry by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Takeover Code of the time reported in mid-1971: [4] "We regret having to conclude that, notwithstanding Mr Maxwell's acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company." It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximise Pergamon's share price through transactions between his private family companies. [5] Maxwell reacquired Pergamon in 1974 after borrowing funds. [6]

Pergamon continued with International Encyclopedias in biotechnology, chemistry, education, engineering, entomology, linguistics, materials science, and pharmacology and toxicology. The education volume won the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association in 1986 as the best reference work of the year. [2]

Pergamon also has offices in Elmsford, New York, in the United States.

Sale to Elsevier

Maxwell sold Pergamon Press to academic publishing giant Elsevier in March 1991 for £440 million; the funds were used to repay the large borrowings taken on by Maxwell in taking control of New York Daily News. [7] [8]

Maxwell retained Pergamon's US books (which became part of sister company Macmillan Inc.), Chess and Bridge, and some smaller properties. [9] The imprint "Pergamon Press" continues to be used to identify journals now published by Elsevier.

See also

Related Research Articles

HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the world's largest publishing companies and is one of the Big Five English-language publishing companies, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan. The company is headquartered in New York City and is a subsidiary of News Corp. The name is a combination of several publishing firm names: Harper & Row, an American publishing company acquired in 1987—whose own name was the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company—together with UK publishing company William Collins, Sons, acquired in 1989.

Elsevier Dutch publishing and analytics company

Elsevier is a Netherlands-based publishing company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical content. It is a part of the RELX Group, known until 2015 as Reed Elsevier. Its products include journals such as The Lancet and Cell, the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, the Trends and Current Opinion series of journals, the online citation database Scopus, the SciVal tool for measuring research performance, the ClinicalKey search engine for clinicians, and the ClinicalPath evidence-based cancer care service. Elsevier's products and services also include digital tools for data management, instruction, research analytics and assessment.

RELX is a British multinational information and analytics company headquartered in London, England. Its businesses provide scientific, technical and medical information and analytics; legal information and analytics; decision-making tools; and organise exhibitions. It operates in 40 countries and serves customers in over 180 nations. It was previously known as Reed Elsevier, and came into being in 1992 as a result of the merger of Reed International, a British trade book and magazine publisher, and Elsevier, a Netherlands-based scientific publisher.

Taylor & Francis Commercial publishing group

Taylor & Francis Group is an international company originating in England that publishes books and academic journals. It is a division of Informa plc, a United Kingdom–based publisher and conference company.

MIT Press American university press

The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Simon & Schuster American publishing company

Simon & Schuster is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Simon & Schuster was the third largest publisher in the United States, publishing 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints.

Paul Rosbaud, was a metallurgist and scientific adviser for Springer Verlag in Germany before and during World War II. He continued in science publishing after the war with Pergamon Press in Oxford, England. In 1986 Arnold Kramish revealed the undercover work of Rosbaud for England during the war in the book The Griffin. It was Rosbaud who dispelled anxiety over a "German atom bomb".

Harcourt was an American publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial/sales/marketing/rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and was known at different stages in its history as Harcourt Brace, & Co. and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.

E. P. Dutton former American book publishing company

E. P. Dutton was an American book publishing company. It was founded as a book retailer in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1852 by Edward Payson Dutton.

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) is an American imprint of the publishing conglomerate Wolters Kluwer. Under the LWW brand, Wolters Kluwer publishes scientific, technical, and medical content such as textbooks, reference works, and over 275 scientific journals. Publications are aimed at physicians, nurses, clinicians, and students.

Robert Maxwell Czechoslovak-born British media proprietor and Member of Parliament (1923–1991)

Ian Robert Maxwell was a British media proprietor, former member of Parliament (MP), suspected spy, and fraudster. Originally from Czechoslovakia, Maxwell rose from poverty to build an extensive publishing empire. After his death, huge discrepancies in his companies' finances were revealed, including his fraudulent misappropriation of the Mirror Group pension fund.

Butterworth–Heinemann is a British publishing company specialized in professional information and learning materials for higher education and professional training, in printed and electronic forms. It was formed in 1990 by the merger of Heinemann Professional Publishing and Butterworths Scientific, both subsidiaries of Reed International.

Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. (GPG), also known as ABC-Clio/Greenwood, is an educational and academic publisher which is today part of ABC-Clio. Established in 1967 as Greenwood Press, Inc. and based in Westport, Connecticut, GPG publishes reference works under its Greenwood Press imprint, and scholarly, professional, and general interest books under its related imprint, Praeger Publishers. Also part of GPG is Libraries Unlimited, which publishes professional works for librarians and teachers.

Macmillan Inc. is a now mostly defunct American publishing company. Once the American division of the British Macmillan Publishers, remnants of the original American Macmillan are present in McGraw-Hill Education's Macmillan/McGraw-Hill textbooks and Gale's Macmillan Reference USA division. The German publisher Holtzbrinck, which bought Macmillan UK in 1999, purchased most US rights to the name in 2001 and rebranded its American division with it in 2007.

D. Reidel was an academic publishing company based in Dordrecht established in the 1960s which was independent until the 1990s.

Solicitors Journal is a monthly legal journal published in the United Kingdom by the International In-house Counsel Journal, Cambridge. It was established in 1856 and covers "practical and independent updates and analysis about the latest developments affecting the legal profession." The magazine has its headquarters in Cambridge.

Aberdeen University Press (AUP) is the publishing arm of the University of Aberdeen. Launched in October 2013, AUP is built on the legacy of the defunct printing firm and publishing house of the same name, which existed from 1900-1996. Unlike the defunct AUP, which worked closely with the University of Aberdeen while remaining a legally separate entity, the new AUP is directly affiliated with the University. AUP's earliest progenitor was established in 1840 in Aberdeen, Scotland. It existed as a private firm, Arthur King and Co. until 1900 when the public company, Aberdeen University Press was created to acquire it. AUP's business history stayed local until 1970; then from 1970 until AUP's liquidation in 1996, the company was tossed between a number of corporate giants. For most of its existence AUP operated primarily as a printing firm; up until the 1980s, its publications list consisted of only the occasional commissioned title.

Christine Yvonne Malina-Maxwell is a British Internet content pioneer and educator, best known as the creator and co-founder of Magellan. Maxwell also co-founded the software company Chiliad and is the author of several books. She is the Program Manager of Learning Technologies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

<i>Principles of Optics</i> Book by Max Born and Emil Wolf

Principles of Optics, colloquially known as Born and Wolf, is an optics textbook written by Max Born and Emil Wolf that was initially published in 1959 by Pergamon Press. After going through six editions with Pergamon Press, the book was transferred to Cambridge University Press who issued an expanded seventh edition in 1999. A 60th anniversary edition was published in 2019 with a foreword by Sir Peter Knight. It is considered a classic science book and one of the most influential optics books of the twentieth century.


  1. 1 2 Joe Haines (1988) Maxwell, Houghton Mifflin, p. 137. ISBN   0-395-48929-6
  2. 1 2 3 Brian Cox (1998) "The Pergamon phenomenon 19511991: a memoir of the Maxwell years", Logos: forum of the world book community 9,3 13540
  3. Nicholas Davenport "Money: The End of the Affair", The Spectator, 17 October 1969, p. 22
  4. Whitney, Craig R. "Robert Maxwell, 68: From Refugee to the Ruthless Builder of a Publishing Empire". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  5. Dennis Barker and Christopher Sylvester. "Robert Maxwell obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  6. "Robert Maxwell: Overview",
  7. Tom Bower (1991) Maxwell the outsider, Viking Penguin, p. 436. ISBN   978-0-749-30238-2
  8. Cohen, Roger (1991-06-30). "Profits – Dick Snyder's Ugly Word". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  9. Feldman, Gayle (1991-06-21). "Going Dutch: Wolters Kluwer and Elsevier are quietly building PSP empires on both sides of the Atlantic". Publishers Weekly. 238 (27). pp. 19–. ISSN   0000-0019 . Retrieved 2019-05-05.