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Tomlinson’s Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts is a multi-volume encyclopedia focusing on manufacturing, mining, and engineering. It was edited by Charles Tomlinson, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a lecturer at King’s College School, London. The original was published between 1852 and 1854. [1].

A new edition was published no earlier than 1866 with the intent of "keeping pace with the varied subjects of the Useful Arts and Manufactures, which are always enlarging their boundaries." Internally the new edition is organized into three volumes of 935, 956, and 740 pages (making it 38% larger than the original edition), but it was sold in various formats, including an eight volume set. It has 63 full page steel engravings and 3063 wood engravings (a few of which are a half page), for which the publishing companies of James Sprent Virtue were noted. It was printed by Virtue & Company, of London, and then also of New York.

Authors and illustrators are not credited, however Tomlinson appears to have been strongly involved in writing and editing, stating in the introduction that he "did not attempt to make his descriptions appear easy" and that "most of the processes described in the work the Editor himself witnessed."

Tomlinson’s has no articles specifically on people, places, or historical events. Its emphasis can be gauged by comparing articles on "Anemometer."

  • Tomlinson’s New Cyclopaedia (1866): About 4,300 words, six figures
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition (1911): About 1,800 words, two figures [2]
  • Encyclopedia Britannica 15th Edition (1986): About 500 words, one figure

Neither the original or the newer edition of Tomlinson’s is restricted by copyright.


Tomlinson, Charles, ed., A New Edition of Tomlinson’s Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts, (London & New York: circa 1866).


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