Chambers's CYCLOPAEDIA - 1741 (fifth edition)
and 1753 Supplement (first edition)

Titile page and Frontispiece

enlarged frontis

Detail from this extraordinary emblematic frontispiece which seems so representative not only of the Cyclopaedia itself but also of the intellectual environment where Chambers first conceived the plan of his ingenious "Cyclopaedia", namely in the shop of John Senex a Globe Maker, Bookseller and renouned publisher of Scientific books and documents. Note in the above frontispiece the giant globe, the armillary sphere, the solar eclipse diagrams in the middle of the courtyard, (see also Chambers's ASTRONOMY Plate)

Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia:
or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences containing an explication of the terms, and an account of the things signified thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical; and the several sciences, human and divine...

The fifth edition. Printed for D. Midwinter...., in two Volumes,
Large folio (16" x 9 1/2 ") London, 1741.
"A Supplement to Mr. Chambers's Cyclopaedia or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences"; printed for W. Innysä, London, 1753. Large folio (16" x 9 1/2 ") two Volumes in three,
The 1753 Supplement volumes form a very important complement to the main work, though they are seldom found with it. The content was based on notes left by Chambers on his death, which were then expanded by the mathematician George Lewis Scott and others.

Cyclopaedia  1753  Supplement

Chambers's Cyclopaedia 1741 plate

a total of 33 plates, most folding

Chambers's Cyclopaedia 1741 plate

Chambers's Cyclopaedia 1741 plate

Chambers's Cyclopaedia 1741 plate

The 12 plates of the supplement are at the back of the third Supplement volume. Except for one (the famous folding type-specimen broadside from William Caslon, shown below), they contain multiple images related to natural history and are uniformly about 18" by 15".

print types

Full leather, 5 volumes total, unpaginated, the two volumes of the original Cyclopaedia have a 18th century bookplate from St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

St Georges Chapel stamped bookplate

The bookplate bears this stamp:


Condition: A part of the charm of this set is that it is obviously well used. It shows it's age. There are three layer's of repairs, starting with heavy straps of leather glued to the tops and bottoms of the spine in the 18th century to tape painted to match the leather along the hinges in, perhaps, the 1940s. We have tacketed three loose boards back on working underneath the other old repairs. While the other hinges are cracked, the cords are holding. All five volumes have an signature on the free endpaper. The free endpaper of one volume has manuscript notes on the life of Chambers, and it appears that something was pasted and removed from it. All of the spine labels are missing except for one title and two of the volume numbers. Internally, it is in near fine condition with no staining or foxing. None of the plates have any tears or marks, other then light offsetting on the plates of the supplement.


Ephraim Chambers (c.1680-1740), apprenticed to a London cartographer, 'was seized by the idea that Harris's Lexicon needed bringing up to date and that he was the man to do this 'work so seemingly disproportionate to any single person's experience. A good French scholar, he adapted MorÈri and Bayle to the common-sense climate of the English Enlightenment. Moreover, he introduced a novel device that has proved indispensable to every subsequent lexicographer and encyclopaedist, namely, cross-references; so that "a chain may be carried on from one end of an art to the other". 'Though to Harris must go the honours of compiling the first true English encyclopaedia, Chambers is clearly the father of the modern encyclopaedia throughout the world' (Collison, p. 103). Regarding this fundamentally important work, Walsh has written: 'Although the Cyclopaedia is now but a landmark in the history of encylopedia publishing, its impact and influence upon later generations was incalculable. It directly influenced the famous French EncyclopÈdie of Diderot, and the New Encylopaedia compiled by Abraham Rees and published between 1802 and 1820 ... Less directly, the pioneering example of the Cyclopaedia stimulated the publication of the Encylopaedia Britannica and many subsequent works'

futher notes

Bookseller Notes

Bookseller notes
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