Eleventh Edition Encyclopedia

Published in volumes from 1910 to 1911, Encyclop?dia 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!

public domain, vintage dandelion drawing - full life cycle

Dandelion Drawing

Vintage life-cycle botanical drawing of an herb most gardeners hate. Maybe this black and white dandelion drawing will entice you to enjoy its simple beauty.

Red Wasp Drawing

Vintage red wasp drawing from 1911. This black and white bee drawing features a single worker bee.

Vintage Washington Map

Vintage Washington Map from a 1911 encyclopedia. It has the distinction of being the only state named for a former president.

Atheris Burtoni -Viper Drawing

Vintage viper drawing. Labeled as Atheris Burtoni, we know little about this snake; other than it’s typical size and that it obviously climbed trees.

King Vulture

King vulture drawing from 1887 by F.W. Frohawk. Vintage encyclopedia image showing the large bird of prey sitting on a tree branch.

Vintage Virginia Map

Great for school history projects and scrapbooking, this vintage Virginia Map dates back to 1911. Aged background and brown topographical elements.

Echis Carinatus Viper Drawing

The Indian Krait is among the “big 4” vipers on the continent known for biting humans. It’s deadly, but, thankfully, this public domain viper image is safe.

Vicugna Drawing

This vicugna drawing comes from a 1911 encyclopedia. It might surprise you that vicugna are actually related to camels. Great vintage drawing.

Asia Minor

Vintage Asia Minor map from 1910. Check out this important area between Asia and Europe and compare it to today’s maps. Great for crafting and homeschooling.

Jack in the Pulpit Drawing

Vintage botanical jack in the pulpit drawing. These fascinating plants have a number of different names for the species identified as Arum maculatum.

Austria-Hungary Map

Vintage Austria-Hungary map from 1910. The country only existed in this form for around 50 years but it was a major player in World War II.