PhD Researcher Rose Roberto will deliver an introduction to the wood engraving blocks of Chambers’s Encyclopaedia at the National Museum of Scotland on 21 April 2016.
Encyclopaedias provide a window into a specific time, place and world view. Rose will introduce the museum’s collection of several thousand wood block engravings, featuring the wood blocks used to produce the first two editions of Chambers’s Encyclopaedia (1860-1868 and revised 1888-1892). Rose will explore how both editions and their illustrations were affected by changes in 19th century technology, growing global information and competitive book markets. As a ‘dictionary of universal knowledge’, the encyclopaedia had to be approachable and affordable. What did these books produced by Scottish publishing firm W. & R. Chambers offer Victorians, and how did the engravings aid readers’ understanding of their world?