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CA State Senator Fred C. Gerdes' (1888-1938) own personal 1907 Werner's Encyclopedia Britannica in 31-volumes: gorgeous ornate Art Nouveau scrollwork incised in soft, buttery, cappuccino-colored leather. Filled with vibrant full-page chromolithographs, plus fold-out maps, frequent B&W engravings...also includes a fundraising letter from Gerdes' 1916 campaign with handwritten notes on back...move over, Wikipedia!

Apparently this set is an unauthorized American version of Britain's 9th Edition, making it a prime example of early literary piracy...see Wikipedia's reference to Paul Kruse's "Piracy and the Britannica: Unauthorized Reprintings of the Ninth Edition" for a fascinating history of good old American theft and opportunism ;)


Complete set, 31 volumes total, each with personalized name tape on spine.

Title: "The New Werner Twentieth Century Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica with New American Supplement"

Copyright Date: 1907

Volumes: 31 including one Index, five "New American Supplement" volumes, and one "A Guide to Systematic Readings"

Previous owner: Fred C. Gerdes, CA State Senator from 1908-1912

Binding: Some kind of soft leather, calf or lambskin? and incised with Art Nouveau scrollwork and seals and embossed lettering, front and back

Spine: Gilded, incised lettering; gilt-edged black tape with owner's name also in gold

Page Decor: Marbled top, bottom, and fore edges; yellow-green paisley endsheets & pastedowns

Size: 8vo - 7.5"w x 11"h

Illustrations: Each volume contains introductory 1 or 2-page chromolithographs, as well as numerous color foldout maps and B&W engravings and drawings


Contains a fundraising letter from Senator Gerdes dated Oct. 30, 1916 with handwritten notes on the history of Parliament on reverse; several small inserts "Notice: How to Open a Book" from Modern Bookbinding; blank receipt from Barremore Perfume Co, 231 Minna St, SF covered with handwritten lyrics to a song about Robin Hood!


The leather bindings are soft, and crumbling in some areas (headband, corners, etc) and several spines are darkened - more photos available upon request. Some loose hinges and spine tears; no odors, missing or torn pages, very occasional examples of writing.

Overall, the set is gorgeous; chromolithos are vivid; bindings are lovely despite their aged state; provenance is clear...a definite commitment, though; it takes up over 6' of shelf space!

More photos available upon request; please provide direct email address.

We ship all over the world; please provide your full address for an accurate shipping quote; set fills 4 boxes and will be sent insured, with signature required for delivery.

For more unusual and interesting vintage books, see our Antiquarian Books & Mags section:

1907 Werners Encyclopaedia Britannica, 31 Vols: Ornate Art Nouveau Embossed Leather, CA State Senator Fred Gerdes' Personal Set

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  • Vintage item from 1900 - 1909
  • Materials: Antique books, 31 volumes Encyclopaedia Britannica 1907, Werners Encyclopedia, Art Nouveau embossed leather bindings, gold lettering, chromolithographs, engravings, fold out maps, pirated version, historical memorabilia, CA State Senator Fred Gerdes personalized set, CA State Senate ephemera
  • Feedback: 420 reviews
  • Only ships to United States from California, United States.