British Encyclopaedia

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Title page of The British Encyclopaedia, 1809, Vol 4

The British Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; Comprising an accurate and popular view of the present improved state of human knowledge was published in 1809 in six octavo volumes and around 150 plates.

It was nominally edited by William Nicholson, but the bulk of the work was overseen by Jeremiah Joyce.

It was published by a syndicate of twenty four booksellers whose names appear on the title pages, starting with Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme. Each purchased shares and in due time received a proportional profit from the eventual sales. This method of publishing was common in the 18th and early 19th century and was known as a conger. It was particularly suited to part works such as encyclopaedias.

Some of the plates were drawn by John Farey, Jr., and engraved by Wilson Lowry and Scott.

In 1821 an American edition of British Encyclopedia was published by John Ames Mitchell in Philadelphia.[1] In 1998 a project made a comparisment of the content of British Encyclopaedia with Gregory's Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, published in 1808, and also edited by Jeremiah Joyce. It showed that 50% of the two texts was identical.[2]



  1. ^ American edition of the British encyclopedia, 1821 at
  2. ^ John Issitt. A tale of two encyclopaedias: transitions in the presentation of scientific knowledge, The Open University, The Textbook Colloquium, 1998

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