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Gorgeous antique Werner's 1907 Encyclopedia Britannica: 31 volume set of chromolithos, maps, engravings, Art Nouveau leather covers. Fred C. Gerdes, a CA State Senator, was the original owner, and most volumes bear a tag with his name on the spine.

The set is truly beautiful: soft, buttery, cappuccino-colored tooled leather covers, hefty volumes filled with vibrant full-page chromolithographs, fold-out maps, and frequent B&W engraved illustrations...we also found some ephemera, including a fundraising letter from Gerdes' 1916 campaign with handwritten notes on back stuck in one of the volumes, a very cool glimpse into the politics of the past...

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 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? 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!


Over 100 years old, this set is in amazing shape! The leather bindings are soft, and crumbling in some areas (headband, corners, etc) and several spines are darkened, not sure why. Some loose hinges and spine tears; but text blocks are in very good condition with no odors, missing or torn pages, and only 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.

INTERNATIONAL BUYERS: Please provide your address for an accurate quote of shipping costs; we love to ship globally, but please note that you are responsible for any customs or import fees this shipment may incur when imported to your country. Please contact your local customs office for details.

We have a large antique book collection not yet listed in our shop, so if you're looking for something in particular, please let us know!

For a peek at the other unusual and interesting vintage books that we do have listed, see our Antiquarian Books & Mags section:

Beautifully Ornate Art Nouveau 1907 Encyclopaedia Britannica Set, 31 Vols. Werners Embossed Leather, From CA Senator Fred Gerdes' Estate


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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, historical memorabilia, CA State Senator Fred Gerdes personalized set, CA State Senate ephemera, Vintage Political Ephemera
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 511 reviews
  • Favorited by: 38 people

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