The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language – A Complete Encyclopedic Lexicon, Literary, Scientific, and Technological, edited by John Ogilvie (1797-1867), was an expansion of the 1841 edition of Noah Webster's American Dictionary. It was published by W. G. Blackie and Co. of Scotland, 1847-1850 in two large volumes. A third Supplement volume was added in 1855.
Ogilvie greatly increased the vocabulary over Webster's dictionary (including words from science, technology, and the arts, much British usage omitted from Webster's, and an unusual number of provincial and Scottish words,) and added quotations and encyclopedic information for many words. With over 2000 wood-cut illustrations, it was the first significantly illustrated dictionary, setting the trend which continues today.
A revised and expanded edition by Charles Annandale was published in 1882 in four volumes, over 3000 pages, with about 130,000 entries and 3000 illustrations, the largest English dictionary at the time. Definitions and etymologies were thoroughly revised.
Due to disputes with the G. & C. Merriam Company (publisher of Webster's American Dictionary), the American edition of the Imperial, published by The Century Company of New York in 1883, contained a Copyright Notice stating:
"Certain owners of American copyrights having claimed that undue use of matter so protected has been made in the compilation of the Imperial Dictionary, notice is hereby given that arrangement has been made with the proprietors of such copyright matter for the sale of this work in this country. The Century Co. May 1st, 1883."
The Century Company acquired rights to the Imperial and it was used as the basis for the much larger American work, the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, published 1889-1891. The Imperial itself went through numerous printings in various forms well into the twentieth century. Although superseded, it remains a much sought after favorite among collectors and dictionary lovers. (more)