Eleventh Edition Encyclopedia

Published in volumes from 1910 to 1911, Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition was a work that was full of controversy. It was written when it was transitioning from a British to an American publication. In an attempt to make the work more popular, it would appear that a number of changes were made to the content. It had an unprecedented number of women contributors – 200. Most of the entries were written by journalists, British Museum scholars and other scholars; some 1500 of them, many of whom are still regarded as experts in their fields.

Some entries clearly included the opinions of the authors. Many criticized the edition for those “unpopular” and inaccurate views. It was written in a time of peace and optimism before the horrors of World War I, the Depression and World War II would take place. It is considered a scholar’s encyclopedia and is said to have influenced many similar sorts of publications since. I’ve even seen some online chatter that Wikipedia relied heavily upon the 11th edition for it’s construction and even many of the entries.

What matters most, to us anyway, is that all of the wonderful illustrations, diagrams and maps are now in the public domain. It will take more than a little time and effort to find them and find those scans of the text which offer the best possible version of each of the images.

With 35 volumes, I doubt that Reusable Art will ever be home to every image available, but, I hope that many of the most interesting ones will make their way to this site.

A side note, I did see a lot of discussion about the name of this encyclopedia being under trademark protection. Even just using the first two letters in combination is thought to be protected. For our purposes, it doesn’t really matter what we call this work, so I’m going to mainly refer to it as the 11th edition or the 1911 Encyclopedia. Seems like something silly to worry about but when I see contributors of the Australia Wikipedia greatly concerned about how to refer to this work in light of the trademark, I would rather err on the side of caution.


On to the images!

foxglove drawing

Foxglove Drawing

Black and white foxglove drawing showing a stem of this stunning flower.

Boehm Cylinder Flute Drawing

Boehm Cylinder Flute

The Boehm Cylinder Flute drawing we are sharing with you represents a revolutionary design change in the musical instrument.

narcissus flowers

Narcissus Flowers

Public domain narcissus flowers drawing from an old encyclopedia. Black and white and just waiting for you to reuse it in your project.

flower head drawing

Flower Head Drawing

Pretty for its simplicity this public domain flower head drawing would make a great addition to a collage or other artistic project.

blow fly drawing

Blow Fly Drawing

Black and white blow fly drawing from 1889. It’s in the public domain and can be used however you wish in your own artistic endeavors.

black bat drawing

Black Bat Drawing

He looks a bit scary. But, this black bat drawing was designed to show off his wing structure.

sea turtle

Sea Turtle

Public domain sea turtle drawing from 1911. Black and white scan from an encyclopedia.

flax flowers

Flax Flowers

Public domain black and white flax flowers drawing. A simple drawing of the flowers and the plant.

teasel plant

Teasel Plant

Public domain drawing of a dried teasel plant head; once prized for the manufacture of woolen fabrics.