First issue in book form of the complete original 10-volume set of the most expansive printed English dictionary in history, a monument of informational ambition matched perhaps only by modern Wikipedia in English.
Overall near fine.
"What makes the Dictionary unique is its historical method; it is a Dictionary not of our English, but of all English." – 1928 Oxford Press Release
A pioneering work of historical lexicography, seeking to document not only modern English usage but the full ancestry and development of the language, buttressed by a dazzling array of cited examples. James Murray's goal was to capture the "whole world of English words," not just those in common use: a mammoth project that was accomplished through a brilliant system of crowdsourcing contributors (including a young J.R.R. Tolkien). More than two decades after its initial conception, Oxford began publishing the individual parts (fascicles) in 1884, completing the first run through Z in April 1928. When this full bound set was issued, it was hailed as one of the greatest publishing events of the century.
The work was published in a few different formats, including over 100 individual fascicles, as well as sets of 10 volumes and sets of 20 "half" volumes (i.e. the full 10 volumes but each one bound into two volumes for easier handling) and other variations, some in more "deluxe" types of bindings with leather (as here) and others in full cloth. The present set is 10 volumes bound in 12, following the pattern of the volumes for the impending 1933 re-issue (but published before it, with the original 1928 date and the original title; the 1933 issue was updated to the new title "Oxford English Dictionary"). After the 1928 and 1933 publications (the 1933 issue including a supplement, not present here), a few additional supplements were published – but the revised second edition would not be fully published until 1989.
Read more: "Exhaust Our Quota of Oxford Dictionary," New York Times, 15 November 1930; "The history of the Oxford English Dictionary," in the preface to the second edition, 1989; Brewer, "The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary," The Review of English Studies, Vol. 44, No. 175; Mugglestone, Lexicography and the OED: Pioneers in the Untrodden Forest.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888-1928. 10 thick volumes bound in 12 volumes total, 13'' x 10.5'' each. Original half maroon goatskin, red pebbled cloth boards, gilt-stamped spine, gilt rules to boards. Maroon coated endpapers, top edges gilt. Small armorial bookplate on front pastedowns. Minor expert restoration to spine heads of a few volumes, section of toning to bottom edges of some volumes. One volume with a thin scratch to front board and line of color bleed on bottom edge (and a couple other volumes with a sliver of color bleed to edges), two volumes with darkening to spines. Front hinge of vol. VII cracking, else hinges firm; interiors clean.
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