Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ex RBSCL Libris: Cyclopaedia

Every month the Rare Books and Special Collections Library Research Services selects a book, photo album, or a set of documents of particular significance from the RBSCL collections and archives, which we think may be of interest to AUC community members. Ex libris is Latin for from the books, and we hope to introduce you to the rich and varied primary resources available in RBSCL through the Ex RBSCL Libris initiative.

Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences is considered by many scholars to be the first true encyclopedia in English. Published by Ephraim Chambers in 1728 in London, the Cyclopaedia contains over 20,000 entries, with exquisitely engraved explanatory plates, a lengthy preface, and some twenty-five dense folio pages that explain how the work should be used. Chambers dedicated the rest of his life compiling and arranging materials for supplementary volumes in order to fill gaps, defects, and omissions in his first volumes. The ‘Supplement’ was not published until many years after Chambers’ sudden death in 1740.  Chambers is considered by many modern scholars as a father of the modern encyclopedia.

Cyclopaedia Frontispiece
Find out more about Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.