"... the highest achievement in colonial bookmaking"
[American Printing]. Encyclopaedia; or, a
Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature...
Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1798. The First American Edition,
and the first Encyclopedia printed in the United States.
Eighteen quarto volumes. With 539 (out of 542) engraved plates
inserted throughout, including engraved frontispiece. Contemporary
full tree calf, spines ruled in gilt in compartments, burgundy gilt
morocco lettering labels, brown gilt morocco numbering labels,
marbled endleaves. Binding worn, a few hinges or joints tender (yet
no boards are loose or detached), text foxed and somewhat
dampstained, some offsetting to plates, pages 305 (volume IV) and
282 (volume XVII) and plate XCI have short tears, a few plates
trimmed neatly at margins, some other plates with edgewear, some
fold-out plates have tears, previous owner's signature in one
volume. Still, a very good set. Missing plates are CXLIX, CLXXXII,
and CCCCXIX. This copy includes the four-page rebuttal to the
attack on Quaker founder George Fox.
The very rare first American encyclopedia, with text mainly after the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The plates include some of the earliest illustrations of their various subjects printed in America. As this title was originally issued in parts (somewhat irregularly), and the printing took place over several years (although each title page is dated 1798), it is almost unheard-of to find complete copies.
Evans 22483. Rink 116. Wroth pp. 291-295.
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