153. A & C Black - Encyclopaedia Britannica 1877


The first Encyclopaedia Britannica appeared in three volumes in 1768-71 under the auspices of a Society of Gentlemen. Andrew Bell (1726-1809) founded the Encyclopaedia Britannica with Colin McFarquar. On Bell’s death Archibald Constable bought the Encyclopaedia and published the 5th and 6th editions. When he went bankrupt in 1826 the Blacks bought the copyright (1828) and published the 7th edition 1830-1842. The 8th edition was published 1853-1860 and the 9th, and arguably the best, 1875–1888. Although John Bartholomew had acquired the privilege to print the Encyclopaedia maps in 1839 it was not until the 9th edition that English county maps were included.

The Americans appreciated the Encyclopaedia in a big way and soon Blacks were selling more copies there than in Britain. The firm of Little, Brown of Boston were official agents with Charles Scribner's Sons (New York) covering subscription volumes. The latter reported sales of 18,000 sets as early as 1879. However, there was also a flourishing pirate trade (British authors were not given full copyright protection until 1957!). Indeed, the Encyclopædia Britannica first appeared in the United States in the form of a pirated edition printed in Philadelphia in 1790 by one Thomas Dobson. Among its purchasers were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. Its American success resulted the Blacks being approached by James Clarke & Co. for the rights to reprint and sell 5000 copies in 1897.

In 1898 a full-page advertisement for The Encyclopaedia Britannica. A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature appeared in The Times. The success was astonishing with new reprinting being needed immediately. By 1899 James Clarke & Co. had bought the copyright.1 A K Johnston must have taken over printing of the maps at about this time.

In 1892 Black’s Handy Atlas of England & Wales appeared using the Britannica maps. The Devon map was also used in Black's Guide To Torquay in 1901

Size: 250 x 200 mm.                                                                                                                                               Scale of Miles (12 = 33 mm). 

DEVON (CaOS). VOL VII (AaOS). PLATE III (EaOS). Imprints: ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, NINTH EDITION. (CeOS). Signature:  J Bartholomew Edinr (EeOS). Railways shown to date.

1. 1877 The Encyclopaedia Britannica. ... Ninth edition.Vol VII.  
    Edinburgh. Adam and Charles Black. 1877. BL, NLS, GUL.
1A. 1878-1893 Titles etc are as state 1. No imprint or signature. Map has been lithographically enlarged to 260 x 215 mm. Crude printed colour (usually yellow).2  
    The Encyclopaedia Britannica ... Ninth Edition … with American Revisions and Additions  
    Chicago. The Werner Company. 1893. KB.
2. 1892 Title rewritten. Imprints: Black’s Handy Atlas of England & Wales (EaOS vertical) and Published by A & C Black, London (CeOS). Plate. 18 (EeOS vertical). Signatures: John Bartholomew & Co. (EeOS) and The Edinburgh Geographical Institute (AeOS). Parliamentary Division information 1885 (Ee) replaces 3 divisions. Size now 245 x 175 mm so that map detail extends outside outer frame. Reverse has DEVON and PLATE 18. Railways added: Launceston and Okehampton to Holsworthy and Exeter-Bampton.  
    Black’s Handy Atlas Of England & Wales.  
    London. Adam and Charles Black. 1892. BL, C, BCL, NLS, BRL.
3. 1898 Titles etc as state 1. Signature: W & A K Johnston. (EeOS). Parliamentary Division information deleted. Reverse is blank.  
    The Encyclopaedia Britannica ... Ninth Edition  
    Edinburgh. Adam and Charles Black. 1877 (1898), 1877 (1899). GL, Notts; EB.
4. 1900 Limited added to the imprint.  
    The Encyclopaedia Britannica. .... Ninth edition.3  
     Edinburgh. Adam and Charles Black. 1877 (1900). [Leics UL].
5. 1901             Imprint: Published by A & C Black, London (CeOS). Signature: J Bartholomew, Edinr.(EeOS). Britannica imprint and page deleted. Railways to Bude, Lynton, Yealmpton, and projected Bideford to Appledore, Ashton to Exeter. Size as state 1.  
     Black's Guide To Torquay And The South Hams ..., Salcombe, Etc.  
     London. Adam and Charles Black. 1901. KB.

[1] Adam & Charles Black 1807-1957; A & C Black; 1957; pp.6-7, 64ff.

[2] This was just one of a number of companies who published this work, although some could have been merely distributors. Other examples seen on-line include Charles Scribner’s Sons (from 1878); Henry G Allen & Company (from 1888); and John B Alden (c.1893). It is not known whether any or all also included the county maps.

[3] The copy reported as being in the Lincoln Cathedral collection has been sold, present whereabouts unknown.