Cyclopædia: Or, An Universal Dictionary Of Arts and Sciences; Containing The Definitions of the Terms, And Accounts of The Things signify'd thereby, In the several Arts, Both Liberal and Mechanical, And the several Sciences, Human and Divine: The Figures, Kinds, Properties, Productions, Preparations, and Uses, of Things Natural and Artificial; The Rise, Progress, and State of Things Ecclesiastical, Civil, Military, and Commercial: With the several Systems, Sects, Opinions, &c. among Philosophers, Divines, Mathematicians, Physicians, Antiquaries, Criticks, &c. The Whole intended as a Course of Antient and Modern Learning. Compiled from the best Authors, Dictionaries, Journals, Memoirs, Transactions, Ephemerides, &c. in several Languages. In Two Volumes. By E. Chambers Gent. ... Volume the First. (Second.)

Ephraim Chambers

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences


London:: Printed for James and John Knapton, John Darby, Daniel Midwinter, Arthur Bettesworth, John Senex, Robert Gosling, John Pemberton, William and John Innys, John Osborn and Tho. Longman, Charles Rivington, John Hooke, Ranew Robinson, Francis Clay, Aaron Ward, Edward Symon, Daniel Browne, Andrew Johnston, and Thomas Osborn., M.DCC.XXVIII.

Physical Description

2 vols.; 397 mm. (Folio).

General Note

Vol. I: [4], xxx, [2], 282 p., frontis. (dble.), 10 pl. (5 dble. or fold.): illus.. - Vol. II: [2], 365-1038, 1-392 p., pl. 11-18 (2 dble. & fold.), [1]: illus.


Vol. I: [Frontis., t.p., dedic.] - The Preface - Errata - A List of the Subscribers - [Text, A-H, with pl.]. - Vol. II: [T.p.] - [Text, I-Z, with pl.].

Responsibility Note

No plate is signed by a draughtsman. Three are signed as engraved by H. Fletcher, and one as engraved by J. Vandr. Gucht. The frontispiece is signed as engraved by I. Sturt. In-text illustrations are unsigned.

The work is dedicated by Ephraim Chambers to the King (George II).


J. Archer, Literature of British domestic architecture (1985), 37.1.

R. Collison, Encyclopaedias: their history (1966).
ESTC, T114002.

Summary Note

This is the first edition of Chambers's Cyclopaedia.

The work includes several entries on visual arts - such as Art, Arts, Clair-Obscure, Colouring, Design, Expression, Painting, Perspective, Sculpture, Statuary - and on architecture - including one on 'Levelling', illustrated in Plate 18.

In the eighteenth century the Academicians were able to acquire several biographic dictionaries of artists, but no specialist encyclopedias on the visual arts were yet available - though these subjects were included in general reference works such as those produced in French in the 1690s by Furetière, Corneille and Bayle. The Academy acquired the third (1720) edition of Bayle.

By 1752 the Cyclopaedia had gone through several editions, and in 1753 a two-volume supplement was added. These were all revised and integrated from 1781 onwards by Abraham Rees; and the Academy also acquired Rees's five-volume edition of 1786. It was with the intention of emulating Chambers's Cyclopaedia that Diderot began the publication of the celebrated Encyclopédie in 1751.


Microfilm versions were published in 1986 (Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications) and 1981 (New Haven, CT: Research Publications).


This book belongs to a group of about ten duplicates from the Royal Library that were evidently presented privately to the Academy, most probably through King George III's Librarian Richard Dalton early in 1769, during the period when expenditure on books for the Academy's fledgling Library was being met directly from the royal Privy Purse. Recorded in A Catalogue Of The Library In The Royal Academy, London (1802).

Binding Note

18th century red morocco, upper and lower covers having elaborate gilt-decorated borders with royal arms of Britain gilt-stamped at centre; rebacked in 20th century, with spines gilt-decorated in 18th-century manner and lettered 'Chambers Cyclopædia Vol. I. A.-HYT. (II. I.-ZYT.)'.


Encyclopedias and dictionaries, English - Reference books - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Armorial bindings - Great Britain - 18th century


John Knapton, publisher
James Knapton, publisher
Arthur Bettesworth, publisher
John Darby the younger, publisher
Daniel Midwinter, publisher
Henry Fletcher, engraver
John Sturt, engraver
George II King of Great Britain, dedicatee, previous owner
John Senex, publisher
Robert Gosling, publisher
John Pemberton, publisher
John Innys, publisher
William Innys, publisher
John Osborn, publisher
Thomas Longman, publisher
Charles Rivington, publisher
John Hooke, publisher
Ranew Robinson, publisher
Francis Clay, publisher
Aaron Ward, publisher
Edward Symon, publisher
Daniel Browne II, publisher
Andrew Johnston, publisher
Thomas Osborne, publisher
John van der Gucht, engraver
George III King of Great Britain, previous owner
W. and J. Innys (London), publisher