Encyclopædia Perthensis

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Minerva directing study to the attainment of Universal Knowledge, frontispiece to Encyclopaedia Perthensis, second edition 1816

The Encyclopædia Perthensis was a publishing project around the Morison Press in Perth, Scotland undertaken in the 1790s, with the involvement of James Morison.[1] Morison went into partnership with Colin Mitchel and Co.[2]

First edition[edit]

The first edition of Encyclopaedia Perthensis was published in parts between the mid-1790s and 1806, to form a 23-volume set. Most of the text was taken verbatim from the third edition of Encyclopædia Britannica. A second edition was published in 1816, with 348 engraved plates and 20 folding maps. (8vo) 23.5x15.2 cm. (9¼x6"); the first edition includes a rare early plan of Washington D.C. It has twenty-three 8vo volumes with plates and maps. The main contributor and editor was Alexander Aitchison, member of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh.[3]

Second edition[edit]

A second edition, 1807 to 1816 was in 24 volumes;[4] or also 23 volumes. It was printed in Edinburgh by John Brown, who also printed, in 1801 and 1803, the supplements to the Encyclopædia Britannica Third Edition.

The majority of the 370 plates and maps claimed by the second edition, where credited, are signed T Clerk Sculpt. Edinr. Two other artists, J Stewart and J Frasier, have signed plates. Though 370 plates and maps are claimed on the title pages, there are only directions for the placement of 348 plates, of which only one could be described as a map, a plan of Washington, D.C. in 1800 by Andrew Ellicott.


  1. ^ Carnie, Robert Hay. "Morison, Robert". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/65126.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ John Craigie; John Shaw Stewart; Thomas S. Paton (1856). Reports of Cases Decided in the House of Lords: Upon Appeal from Scotland, from 1726 to [1822] .. T. & T. Clark. pp. 265–. 
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia Perthensis (1807). The new encyclopædia; or, Universal dictionary of arts and sciences. p. 12. 
  4. ^ Joseph W. Dauben; Christoph J. Scriba (23 September 2002). Writing the History of Mathematics - Its Historical Development. Springer. p. 165. ISBN 978-3-7643-6167-9.