The First Technical Encyclopedia;
Including Newton’s Only Chemical Writings

Lexicon Technicum: or, an Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves.

Engraved frontis. port. of Harris, 14 engraved plates (some folding, one with a short tear without loss) & numerous woodcut illus. in the text. Title in red & black. [463] leaves; [386] leaves. Two vols. Folio, cont. panelled calf (extremities a little worn, some browning as is usual with this book), red morocco lettering pieces on spines (Vol. I label recent & sympathetically done). London: 1704-10.

First edition of the first technical encyclopedia in any language and a landmark in the history of technology. “This was the first general scientific encyclopedia, and for it Harris drew upon some of the greatest authorities of the day. In physics, astronomy, and mathematics he turned to Newton; in botany he consulted John Ray and Joseph Tournefort; in other areas he drew upon Halley, Robert Boyle, Nehemiah Grew, John Woodward, John Wilkins, William Derham, and John Collins.”–D.S.B., VI, pp. 129-30.

“John Harris, clergyman, mathematician, and (from 1709) secretary of the Royal Society, produced the first English encyclopaedia arranged in alphabetical order. He was the earliest lexicographer to distinguish between a word-book (dictionary, in modern parlance) and a subject-book (encyclopaedia proper), thereby overcoming the confusion which Isidore had introduced a thousand years earlier. His Lexicon Technicum appears to be the first technical dictionary in any language. The most famous of his contributors was Isaac Newton.”–Printing & the Mind of Man 171a.

This work contains about 8200 entries, arranged alphabetically.

Nice set, preserved in two boxes. While the bindings understandably do not quite match (they were bound six years apart), this is a very attractive set. Complete sets of the first edition are hard to find, as the second volume is normally found with the second edition of Vol. I.

❧ Lael Ely Bradshaw, “John Harris’s Lexicon technicum” in Kafker, Notable Encyclopedias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, pp. 107-19–”the first general encyclopedia to emphasise science.” Horblit 25a. Wells, Circle of Knowledge (1968) 16.

Price: $22,500.00

Item ID: 6767