I’d like to introduce you to a volume in our Rare Books collection. It’s the very first book on the very first shelf of our Rare section. This book has found a fond spot in our hearts here in A&SC and we find it woefully underused. It’s full of all sorts of good advice and information. This book is the Gay’s Standard Encyclopaedia and Self-Educator, dating from 1885.
Well, I say it’s the Gay’s Standard Encyclopaedia and Self-Educator, but the title according to the cover is: Gay’s Standard Encyclopaedia and Self-Educator Comprising Popular Useful Commercial Legal and Scientific Knowledge, Historical Political Statistical Classic Literary Dramatic Domestic Medical and Recreative Education.
Isn’t that a mouthful? It gets better, though, because that’s not even the full title as it appears on the title page which is (take a deep breath):
Gay’s Standard Encyclopaedia and Self-Educator: A Household Library of Scientific and Useful Information. Embracing outlines of universal history, portraits, and biographies of eminent persons, illustrated experiments in natural philosophy and chemistry, electricity applied to the trades, astronomy, medicine, architecture, international commerce, commercial law, parliamentary law, penmanship and book-keeping, composition and correspondence, dictionary of synonyms, language, elocution and oratory, biographical list of authors, phonetic shorthand, telegraphy, photography, Constitution of the United States, poetry, language of flowers, home life and happiness, etiquette and conduct of life, courtship and marriage, home amusements and adornment, household receipts and cookery, and many other important features; forming a complete social and business manual, and compendium of useful and scientific knowledge.
And all that in just 756 pages!
Sporadically over the course of the next year, we hope to share some of its little gems with you. We hope you enjoy watching us educate ourselves! Up first? Well, there’s so many. At the moment I’m leaning toward the Amateur Taxidermist’s Guide.