EB 1st Edition Replica
he three-volume First Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica
paid homage to its classical roots in two conspicuous ways. One was a departure from the conventional spelling of encyclopedia.
The use of the æ
ligature preserved an ancient bequest of Greek and Roman scribes used to denote diphthongal pronunciation. Even by 1768 this device had fallen out of use except in the most rarefied of contexts. The other nod to antiquity was the Latinate title itself. It could easily have been called the British Encyclopedia
, since Latin had ceased to be the lingua franca of the educated. As we approach the third century since that first edition, Britannica’s
stewards have continually changed everything else about the work, but they have always left its unusual title untouched.
The current 15th Edition was first published in 1974. Although there are regular revisions published, readers typically tend to keep their sets up to date by annually buying yearbooks that review recent developments. For the digitally inclined, online revisions to the encyclopedic corpus are done a number of times a year.