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It was first issued by a ‘Society of Gentlemen in Scotland’ in numbers (1768–71), edited by William Smellie, a printer, afterwards secretary of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries. It was a dictionary of the arts and sciences. The second edition (1777–84), in ten vols, added history and biography. The third edition, in 15 vols, appeared in 1788–97; and the fourth edition, in 20 vols, in 1801–10. The undertaking was taken over by Constable in 1812, and the copyright sold after the failure of that house in 1826. It passed to Cambridge University for the publication in 1910–11 of the eleventh edition in 28 vols [EB]. The fourteenth edition, under the editorship‐in‐chief of J. L. Garvin, was published in London and New York in 1929. Since then a system of continuous revision has replaced the making of new editions. (See also Chambers, Robert.)

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