The first edition
of the Encyclopædia Britannica
, whose title page reads as follows:
ARTS and SCIENCES,
COMPILED UPON A NEW PLAN.
The different Sciences and Arts are digested into distinct Treatises or Systems ;
The various Technical Terms, &c. are explained as they occur in the order of the Alphabet.
ILLUSTRATED WITH ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY COPPERPLATES.
By a Society of
GENTLEMEN in Scotland.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
Printed for A. Bell and C. Macfarquhar ;
And sold by Colin Macfarquhar,
at his Printing-Office, Nicolson-street.
Well, you get the idea. I spared you the changes in font size.
Volume I covered the letters A-B. Volume II covered C-L (I guess they ran out of steam). Volume III finished with M-Z.
This edition is a delight to read: it has an article on phlogiston but not oxygen. The North American colonies are still that.
Historical sidelight: this edition was subject to censorship. The article on midwifery had very frank illustrations of childbirth. There was a hue and cry and many copies had these pages torn out.
You may see facsimile copies of this edition. They are a masterpiece of modern printing. The faux-leather binding has imitation dings. The pages appear mildly foxed, presumably via a photographic reproduction of the originals.
This facsimile edition has no ISBN, copyright notice, or anything else indicating they were not printed in the 18th century. The proprietor of The Cranbury Book Worm, from whom I purchased my copy, told me they were issued to celebrate the bicentennial of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Noders with expertise in copyright law, please give me your opinion on this issue: the facsimile edition is an exact reproduction of the 1771 original, which is clearly in the public domain. So the TEXT of the facsimile is also in the public domain, is it not (since there were no editorial or other textual modifications)? I agree that it would be prohibited for me to publish my own copy of the facsimile via photo-offset, or to scan it in and post the IMAGES of the pages on the web.