Rees's Cyclopædia, in full The Cyclopædia; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature was an important 19th-century British encyclopædia edited by Rev. Abraham Rees (1743–1825), a Presbyterian minister and scholar who had edited previous editions of Chambers's Cyclopædia.
When Rees was planning his Cyclopædia, Europe was in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and during serialised publication (1802-1820) the Napoleonic Wars and War of 1812 occurred. Britain absorbed into its empire a number of the French Colonies in India and the West Indies; Romanticism came to the fore; evangelical Christianity flourished with the efforts of William Wilberforce; and factory manufacture burgeoned.
With this background, philosophical radicalism was suspect in Britain, and aspects of the Cyclopædia were thought to be distinctly subversive and attracted the hostility of the Loyalist press. Contributors Jeremiah Joyce and Charles Sylvester had attracted the attention of the government and were tried for their views. The editor and authors went to great pains to emphasise their Englishness, to the extent of anglicising many French words: the French Kings Louis appear under the heading "Lewis".
Scientific theorising about the atomic system, geological succession, and earth origins; natural history (botany, entomology, ornithology and zoology); and developments in technology, particularly in textiles manufacture, (see External links, below) are all reflected in the Cyclopædia.
The Cyclopædia appeared serially between January 1802 and August 1820, and ran to 39 volumes of text and 6 volumes of plates including an atlas. It contains around 39 million words, and around 500 of the articles are of monograph length. The sheets were produced weekly, and issued as half-volume sets several times a year. The dates of these can be seen in the table below. Only one set of the work in half-volumes (which also has some of the paper wrappers) is known to survive, in the library of the Natural History Museum, London.
The plates were published in 6 volumes: four covering general articles, one on natural history, and one atlas. They were issued as blocks and so do not appear to have been issued with the texts in the half-volumes. There are 1107 Plates, and Atlas with 61 folded maps 16" by 10" in size. Bound at the back of Volume 39 are lists of all the plates and an index to them.
Later editions 
The American edition was published by Samuel Fisher Bradford, of Philadelphia. Bradford was a member of the famous dynasty of American printers. The first volume appeared in May 1806 and the last in December 1820. The work extended to 41 volumes of text and 6 of plates. See section 5 below.
In the 1980s the Swiss publishing house IDC produced a microfiche edition.
Digitised editions of the Cyclopædia have begun to appear on the Internet in recent years.
Background, reception, scholarship 
Rees's Cyclopædia seems to be in limbo in published studies of reference books. The first decades of the 19th century saw an efflorescence in encyclopædia publishing in Britain. Examples were:
- The fourth, fifth and sixth editions of Encyclopædia Britannica in 20 volumes, 1801–1810, 1815–1817, and 1823–1824.
- Encyclopædia Perthensis or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Science and Literature, 23 volumes, Edinburgh 1807.
- Edinburgh Encyclopædia, 18 volumes, 1808-1830, ed. David Brewster.
- British Encyclopædia, 6 volumes, 1809, ed. William Nicholson.
- Pantologia, 12 volumes, 1813, ed. John Mason Good, Olinthus Gregory, Newton Bosworth.
- Encyclopædia Metropolitana, 28 volumes, 1817-1845, edited initially by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- London Encyclopædia, 22 volumes, 1829.
These sources commonly fed off each other, and writers often contributed to more than one.
The Cyclopædia had comparatively little reception on publication. The Anti-Jacobin Review published hostile reviews of half-volume 1 in 1802, and of volumes 2-4 in 1804-5. These reviews complained about its supposed antireligious aspects and radical standpoints attributed to its editor and contributors, and cited lack of article balance, confusing alphabetisation, and cross-references to then-unpublished volumes. The British Critic less stridently criticised lack of balance and confusion in volume 1. The Panoplist carried a serial review of both editions of Rees by Jedediah Morse in 1807-1810.
Macmillan's Magazine, 1862, mentioned Rees and Chambers in one sentence. The Quarterly Review commented, "Rees is the most extensive cyclopædia in English with many excellent articles it has generally been condemned as on the whole too diffuse and too commonplace."
The exhaustive article in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1910) on encyclopædias mentions Rees's involvement with the editing of the original Chambers, but ignores completely the later work. The 15th edition of Britannica mentions Rees's Cyclopædia superficially.
Superseded by more modern works and ignored by larger scholarship, the Cyclopædia received modern scholarly attention from students of the history of science and the history of technology, after research into the life and times of Charles Burney and his writings on music. In 1948 Percy Scholes published his biography The Great Dr Burney, 2 vol., and devoted a chapter to Burney's work for Rees. Scholes had his own copy of the work and used it profitably to discuss in some detail the faults of the work, in particular, the way the serial production caused major problems when editors were faced with new knowledge that appeared after the volume containing the appropriate section had been issued. They addressed this partially with an appendix in the last volume, and also by inventing contorted new subject titles in the main work ("Cotton Manufacture", Vol. 10, 1808, and "Manufacture of Cotton", Vol. 21, 1812).
The Cyclopædia lacks a classified index volume, and alphabetising is on occasion eccentric ("York, New"). Citing the work is difficult, since there are no page numbers.
The Rees Project 
The Rees Project was instigated by June Zimmerman Fullmer (1920-2000), a professor at Ohio State University, an authority on Humphry Davy and the chemistry of the early 19th century. Her work drew her to Rees and she indexed it. After tapping the invisible college of scholars who knew of Rees, she convened a summer 1986 meeting in London, following which she wrote a proposal to the American Foundation for the Humanities for funding to the project, setting out the object of producing a printed concordance to the contents of the Cyclopædia. This was intended to make Rees much more widely accessible to the modern reader. Funding was not forthcoming, and the matter lapsed.
Rees's Cyclopædia was printed by Andrew Strahan, the King's Printer. It was entirely hand-set and printed. At the commencement of the work Strahan had nine wooden presses and over 20,000 kg of type. By 1809 this had risen to 15 presses (probably iron stanhope) and 36,000 kg of type. Since the Cyclopædia was produced serially, with a few sheets being printed each week, only a small part of Strahan's men and equipment would have ever been used on it at any one time. The work was printed on demy paper and folded to quarto format, with an uncropped size of 11 ¼ inches by 8 ¾ inches. A limited number were advertised in the prospectus as being produced on royal paper, which when folded gave a format of 12 ¼ inches by 10 inches. There are no watermarks in the paper and it is wove, with no chain lines. The supplier has not been identified, but it may be significant that a J. Dickinson was a member of the publishing syndicate.
The text matter was set in two columns measuring 221mm x 80mm, with 67 lines per column. Ten lines of text measures 33mm deep. According to McKerrow's formula this size of typeface was Long Primer. The typefounder is unknown, but the article on "Printing" in Volume 28 had, bound with the text, specimens from Fry and Steele of London and Alexander Wilson of Glasgow. Greek and Hebrew faces were sometimes used and occasionally special chemical, pharmaceutical, and other symbols appear.
The work followed the common practice of the time of conflating the entries for I and J and U and V into single lists.
At first a half-volume cost 18 shillings, and a large paper version with proof copies of the plates cost £1 16 shillings (according to the prospectuses). By 1820 the parts sold for £1 and £1 16 respectively. It is not clear if these prices were for the parts in wrappers. At the end of the project the work sold for £85 in the quarto edition and was reputed to have cost Longmans nearly £300,000. Most sets of Rees today are bound in calf, with two parts to the volume, but the quality of the leather used has meant that in many cases the hinges have rotted and the covers loosened, necessitating rebinding.
The publication of Rees followed the common system of a number of booksellers banding together to share the cost and eventual profit: the conger. The syndicate comprised Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, Paternoster-Row; F. C. and J. Rivington, publisher to the SPCK (publishers of the British Critic); A. Strahan, King's Printer; and 24 smaller concerns.
No records of the publication survive, since the papers of Longmans were destroyed when their premises in Paternoster Row, London, were burnt out in the Blitz on the night of 29–30 December 1940.
Publication dates 
Rees is often incorrectly cited as published 1819. Correct dating by half-volume or fascicle (1802-1820) has serious implications for the accuracy of citations by modern writers, especially when discussing scientific priority: a list compiled in 1820 in Philosophical Magazine was designed to give proper priority to scientific discoveries. Volumes of plates were issued in blocks, and not with the texts to which they refer.
Botanical historian Benjamin Daydon Jackson, unaware of this list, attempted to compile a list based on contemporaneous advertisements in the trade press, on dates appearing on the plates (having assumed that the plates were issued at the same time as the accompanying texts), and some guesswork. He published his first list privately in 1877, he issued a corrected version in 1880, and a final version appeared in the Journal of Botany in 1896. Only 3 of Jackson's dates accord with the 1820 dates listed below.
|VOLUME||PART||DATE OF PUBLICATION||LAST ARTICLE|
|1||1||1 January 1802||AGOGE|
|2||14 May 1802||AMARANTHOIDES|
|2||3||18 October 1802||Pt. ANTIMONY|
|4||7 April 1803||ARTERIOTOMY|
|3||5||22 September 1803||Pt. BABEL-MANDEB|
|6||17 March 1804||BATTERSEA|
|4||7||17 August 1804||BIÖRNSTAHL|
|8||13 April 1805||BOOK-BINDING|
|5||9||1 June 1805||Pt. BRUNIA|
|10||26 December 1805||CALVART|
|6||11||18 February 1806||Pt. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE|
|12||17 June 1806||CASTRA|
|7||13||1 October 1806||Pt. CHALK|
|14||9 February 1807||CHRONOLOGY|
|8||15||18 May 1807||Pt. CLAVARIA|
|16||10 August 1807||COLLISEUM|
|9||17||27 November 1807||Pt. CONGREGATION|
|18||8 March 1808||CORNE|
|10||19||2 May 1808||Pt. CROISADE|
|20||2 July 1808||CZYRCASSY|
|11||21||23 September 1808||Pt. DELUGE|
|22||3 December 1808||DISSIMILITUDE|
|12||23||14 February 1809||Pt. DYNAMICS|
|24||22 May 1809||ELOANÆ|
|13||25||18 August 1809||Pt. EQUATION|
|26||25 November 1809||EXTREMUM|
|14||27||3 February 1810||FIBRO-CARTILAGE|
|28||13 April 1810||FOOD|
|15||29||27 June 1810||Pt. FROBERGER|
|30||8 October 1810||GENERATION|
|16||31||29 November 1810||GNEIME|
|32||25 January 1811||GRETNA GREEN|
|17||33||8 March 1811||HATFIELD REGIS|
|34||22 April 1811||HIBE|
|18||35||23 June 1811||HUYSUM|
|36||20 August 1811||INCREMENT|
|19||37||14 September 1811||Pt. JOSEPHUS|
|38||16 December 1811||KILMES|
|20||39||27 January 1812||Pt. LAUREMBERG|
|40||19 March 1812||LIGHT-HORSE|
|21||41||12 May 1812||Pt. LONGITUDE|
|42||27 July 1812||Pt. MACHINERY + A. of PLATES|
|22||43||27 August 1812||Pt. MANGANESE|
|44||4 November 1812||MATHESON|
|23||45||11 December 1812||METALS|
|46||9 February 1813||MONSOON|
|24||47||30 March 1813||Pt. MUSCLE|
|48||26 April 1813||NEWTON|
|25||49||15 July 1813||Pt. OLEINÆ|
|50||15 September 1813||OZUNCZE + B. of PLATES|
|26||51||27 November 1813||Pt. PASSIFLORA|
|52||18 January 1814||PERTURBATION|
|27||53||22 March 1814||Pt. PICUS|
|54||7 May 1814||POETICS|
|28||55||14 July 1814||Pt. PREACHING|
|56||16 September 1814||PUNJGOOR|
|29||57||14 December 1814||Pt. RAMISTS + C. of PLATES|
|58||26 January 1815||REPTON|
|30||59||21 March 1815||Pt. ROCK|
|60||1 June 1815||RZEMEIN|
|31||61||11 July 1815||Pt. SARABANDA|
|62||21 September 1815||SCOTIUM + D. of PLATES|
|32||63||22 December 1815||Pt. SHAMMY|
|64||28 February 1816||SINDY|
|33||65||17 May 1816||Pt. SOUND|
|66||27 July 1816||STARBOARD|
|34||67||26 October 1816||Pt. STUART (JAMES)|
|68||11 December 1816||SZYDLOW|
|35||69||19 March 1817||Pt. TESTUDO|
|70||1 May 1817||TOLERATION|
|36||71||13 August 1817||Pt. TUMOURS|
|72||24 October 1817||VERMELHO|
|37||73||20 December 1817||Pt. UNION|
|74||23 March 1818||WATERLOO|
|38||75||29 May 1818||Pt. WHITBY|
|76||30 July 1818||Pt. WREN|
|39||77||30 December 1818||ZYTOMIERS; & Pt. BALDWIN of Addendum + E. of PLATES|
|78||27 October 1819||ZOLLIKIFER of Addendum + F. of PLATES|
|79||29 July 1820||PLATES, THEIR REFERENCES AND TITLES|
Citation style 
Hundreds of articles in Rees are very long, and the work is unpaginated, so page reference is not easy. The following convention was adopted by the Rees Project, and is based on the method described by R. B. McKerrow. Each gathering has 8 pages, and each page 2 columns. The reference is cited by volume or half-volume details with accurate date between 1802 and 1820, article title, and then the gathering's identifier, the page, and the column, separated by colons. The page containing the gathering identifier (e.g., "B") is page 1 in each gathering (e.g., page "B:1"). Page 3 in each gathering typically contains the gathering identifier plus the figure 2 and should be ignored (e.g., "B2" appears on page "B:3").
The account of the bell-crank steam engine may be referenced as "Farey, Jr., John (December 1816). "Steam Engine". In Rees, Abraham. Rees's Cyclopædia 34. London: Andrew Strahan. O:5:2." ("O" is the 8-page gathering's identifier.)
The gatherings in a typical volume of Rees are identified as follows. In each sequence the letters J and W are omitted and one letter U or V used but not both together.
- 22 running from "B" to "Z"
- 23 running from "Aa" to "Zz"
- 23 running from "3A" to "3Z"
- 23 running from "4A" to "4Z"
- 23 running from "5A" to "5Z" or as far as needed
The David and Charles reprint of some of the manufacturing articles is paged, and many writers cite this pagination, which is useless for consulting the original article from a full set. These reprints are also not comprehensive, as they omit short pieces under about 350 words.
Notable articles 
Approximately 500 articles exceed 15 columns (11,000 words). The longest article is "Canal", by John Farey, Sr., 289 columns (210,000 words). John Landseer wrote 4 articles on schools of European engraving totalling over 600 columns (460,000 words).
Biographical articles 
- Main article: List of long biographical articles on Rees's Cyclopaedia
Rees's Cyclopeadia has 3789 biographical articles half a page (350 words) and longer, as well as numerous briefer ones. They range in time from Antiquity to the eighteenth century. Sir James Edward Smith wrote the botanical articles, and Charles Burney the ones on Music. The rest of the authors cannot be positively identified with the exception of William Tooke, who wrote about Catherine the Great. It is undoubtedly true to say that many of the 100-odd contributors would have written about people within their areas of expertise
The Cyclopædia was written by about 100 contributors, most of whom were Nonconformists. They were specialists in their fields, covering science, technology, medicine, manufacturing, agriculture, banking and transportation, as well as the arts and humanities. A number were members of the teaching staffs of the Royal Military Academy, and the Addiscombe Military Seminary of the East India Company. Other contributors were working journalists who wrote for scientific, medical and technical periodicals of the time. Several of the contributors were active in radical politics; one was gaoled for sedition and another indicted for treason.
Amongst the eminent writers engaged by Rees were Dr Charles Burney (1726–1814) who wrote on music and musical biography; Dr Lant Carpenter (1780–1870) on education, mental and moral philosophy; Tiberius Cavallo (1799–1809) on electricity and magnetism; John Farey, sr. (1766–1826), on canals, geology, music and surveying; John Farey, jr. (1791–1851) on machinery, manufactures, steam engine, and water. He also contributed a great number of the illustrations; John Flaxman (1755–1826) on sculpture; Luke Howard (1772–1867) on meteorology; John Landseer (1769–1852) on engraving; Sir William Lawrence, (1783–1867) on human and comparative anatomy; Sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828) on botany; David Mushet on metallurgy and chemistry; Rev. William Pearson (1767–1847) on astronomy; Sir Thomas Phillips (1770–1875) on painting.
Among the artists and engravers employed were Aaron Arrowsmith (1750–1823) who engraved the maps; William Blake (1757–1827) who made engravings to illustrate some of the sculpture articles; Thomas Milton (1743–1827) who engraved most of the natural history plates; Wilson Lowry (1762–1824) who engraved numerous of the plates especially those relating to architecture, machinery and scientific instruments.
With the exception of the botanical articles by Sir James Edward Smith, none of the articles are signed. Names were recorded in the Prospectus of 1802, the introduction at the start of the first volume, the paper covers of the unbound parts which have survived, and in a paper in the Philosophical Magazine, published in 1820. The alphabetical List of contributors to Rees's Cyclopædia has been compiled from the foregoing sources. The majority appear in the Dictionary of National Biography, and in sources listed in the British Biographical Index, but these accounts rarely record an involvement with the Cyclopædia.
American edition 
The American edition was published by Samuel Fisher Bradford, of Philadelphia. Bradford was a member of the famous dynasty of American printers. The first volume appeared in May 1806 and the last in December 1820. The work extended to 41 volumes of text and 6 of plates. There were 1,851 subscribers recorded. The initial print run was set at 2,500 copies, but Bradford was beset by financial problems, and the project passed to Murray, Draper Fairman and Company who reduced the run to 2,000 copies. The work sold at $4 per half volume or $8 per volume. The full bound set cost $400 in 1820.
The religious content of the first volumes was re-written to reflect American sensibilities by Bishop William White, an Episcopalian, and Ashbel Green a Presbyterian. Additional American material was incorporated into the text.
References and sources 
- Such as the Anti-Jacobin Review - see Section 2 below
- "The subversive encyclopedia" by John Underwood in Science Museum Library & Archives Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2010.
- Anonymous (1820). "Notices of New Books: The Cyclopædia ...". Philosophical Magazine. 1st series 56 (269): 218–24.
- "Catalogue". IDC. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Enyclopædia". Macmillan's Magazine 5: 357–370. 1862.
- "Encyclopædias". Quarterly Review 113: p367. 1863.
- "Encyclopædias". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- The Newcomen Bulletin [of the Newcomen Society of London] 136. December 1986. pp. 1–2.
- "Rees's Cyclopædia". Archives of Natural History: 112. 1987.
- Fullmer, June (1987). Proposal for the creation of "The Readers' Guide to Rees's Cyclopædia". Self-published in limited-circulation typescript.
- Gaskell, Phillip (1956). "The Strahan Papers". The Times Literary Supplement: 592.
- McKerrow, Ronald B. (1928). An introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students. Clarendon Press, Oxford. pp. 306, note 1.
- Munby, Frank (1954). Publishing and Bookselling. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 329.
- McKerrow, Ronald B. (1928). An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students. Clarendon Press. pp. 161ff.
- Frank A. Kafker, Notable encyclopaedias of the late eighteenth century; eleven successors of the Encyclopédie, 1994 , p 202, n 6
- Jeremy, David J. and Darnell, Polly C., Visual Mechanic Knowledge: The workshop drawings of Isaac Ebeneezer Markham (1795-1825), New England Textile Mechanic, Pub. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, Vol 263 , 2010. p 340
- Frank A. Kafker, Notable encyclopaedias of the late eighteenth century; eleven successors of the Encyclopédie, 1994 , p 249, n 102
- Chronological list of sources
- Anon, Dr Rees's New Cyclopædia - On Saturday, 2 January 1802, will be published..., 3 page printed prospectus, 1801
- Anon, Dr Rees's New Cyclopædia - Samuel F. Bradford is preparing to publish by subscription .... 1 page broadside prospectus of the American edition, n. d. [c.1805]
- Anon., Review of Vol 1 in the Anti-Jacobin Review, vol 12, 1802, pp 178–90 and vol 13, 1802, pp 40–53
- Anon., Review of Vols 2, 3 and 4 in the Anti-Jacobin Review, vol 19, 1804, pp 365–376 and vol 20, 1805, pp 44–55
- Anon., Review of Vol 1 in the British Critic, vol 25/26, 1805, pp 225–244 and vol 27/28, 1806, pp 64–77
- Jedediah Morse, comparative reviews of both editions in The Panoplist, Vol 3, 1807, pp 129–134, 178-183, 270-274, 507-511, Vol 4 (N.S. vol 1) 1808-9, pp 131–138, 177-183, 214-217, 273-274, 318-324, 368-371, 407-413, 514-518, Vol 5, (N.S. Vol 2) 1809-10, pp 29–34, 81-85, 123-127.
- Anonymous (1820). "Notices of New Books: The Cyclopædia ...". Philosophical Magazine. 1st series 56 (269): 218–24.</ref>
- Anon, Notice of the completion of the publication of the work, Monthly Repository, 1820, vol 15, p 624
- B. D. Jackson, 'The Dates of Rees's Cyclopædia', Journal of Botany, 1896, 34, pp 307–311
- P. A. Scholes, The Great Dr Burney, 1948, Vol 2 pp 184–201, chapter LVIII, "Virtues and vagaries of a septuagenarian encyclopædist"
- Roger Lonsdale, Dr Charles Burney: a Literary Biography, OUP 1965, pp 407–431, chapter X, "Burney and Rees's Cyclopædia"
- Eugene S. Ferguson, 'Cast-iron aqueduct in Rees's Cyclopædia', Technology and Culture, 1968, 9, 597-600
- Neil Cossons, ed., Rees's Naval Architecture 1819-20, 1 vol, Publisher: David and Charles, 1970
- Neil Cossons, ed., Rees's Clocks, Watches and Chronometers, 1 vol, Publisher: David and Charles, 1970
- Neil Cossons, ed., Rees's Manufacturing Industry, 5 vol, Publisher: David & Charles, 1972
- Harte, N. B., 'Rees's Watches Chronometers and Naval Architecture : A Note', Maritime History III 1973, 92-5
- Harte, N. B., "On Rees's Cyclopædia as a source for the history of the textile industries in the early nineteen century," Textile History, 5, 1974, pp 119–127.
- Pestana, Harold R., 'Rees's Cyclopædia (1802–1820) a sourcebook for the history of geology, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, (1979), 9, (3), 353-361.
- Jeremy, David J. Transatlantic Industrial Revolution, Blackwells, 1981. [Makes use of the textile machinery illustrations and other information]
- Kafker, Frank A., Notable Encyclopedists of the Eighteenth Century: Successors of the Encyclopedie, Publisher: The Voltaire Foundation, 1994. [Contains some material about the American edition]
- Woolrich, A. P., "John Farey, Jr., technical author and draughtsman: his contribution to Rees's Cyclopædia". Industrial Archaeology Review, 20, (1998), 49-68 AIA Abstracts 1998
- Jeremy, David J. and Darnell, Polly C., Visual Mechanic Knowledge: The workshop drawings of Isaac Ebeneezer Markham (1795-1825), New England Textile Mechanic, Pub. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, Vol 263, 2010, pp 335–344 (an extensive account of the textiles material in the two versions of the Cyclopædia).
- Miller, L. "The New Cyclopædia".
- 93 digitised articles on all aspects of textiles from the British edition can be found on the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving Related Topics at Arizona State University. http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/articles795.html
Digitised copies