General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts

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Title page of Section 1, Volume 1 “A bis Aetius” by the publisher / Gruber from 1818
Sample page from Volume 1, “Abbreviations” from 1818; derersch / Gruber is one of the few encyclopedias with footnotes

The General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts is an encyclopedia by Johann Samuelansch (1766–1828) and Johann Gottfried Gruber (1774–1851), which is why it is also only briefly referred to as “ Erf-Gruber ”.


The publication of the unfinished Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste, in alphabetical order , was begun in 1818 by Erf and Gruber; 167 text volumes and 1 table volume had been published by 1889. It is a scientific encyclopedia that has been developed by over 400 employees and comprises almost 79,000 pages in three sections.

Three parts were published:

  • "A – G" (1st section) in 99 volumes and 1 table volume, 1818–1882,
  • “H – Ligature” (2nd Section, planned as “H – N”) in 43 volumes, 1827–1889, and
  • “O – Phyxius” (3rd Section, planned as “O – Z”) in 25 volumes, 1830–1850.

The work was taken over by Brockhaus-Verlag in 1831 and discontinued unfinished in 1889.

For example, the keyword Greece alone comprises the eight volumes 80–87 of the first section; the Greece volumes also appeared separately and are concluded at the end of the eighth part with a detailed systematic table of contents. The volumes consist almost exclusively of two-column text; a few illustrations ( copper engravings ) were only added to each volume from Section 2 onwards . When selecting biographies, only those of deceased personalities were included.


Versch-Gruber in a university library

The "ersch Gruber "was considered the most extensive encyclopedia of the West , as a prototypical document of German idealism and" gigantic and honorable work of German thoroughness and German hard work ".

In the "preliminary report" of the General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts in alphabetical order , Erf and Gruber 1818 described the aim of their work:

“Our company aims [...] nothing less than a comprehensive processing of all sciences and arts, according to their individual parts and objects, according to the condition of literature and art, which has changed immensely for about three decades, of writers, whose names respect and trust of the literary world have long since acquired as much as possible for the entire educated public, in alphabetical order. The French received similar works from Diderot and d'Alembert , the English from Chambers , Rees and others. A. under the title of an encyclopedia. Our encyclopedia should completely cover all subjects of human knowledge and ability, briefly explain the art expressions, treat all important subjects thoroughly and satisfactorily, if necessary with reference to the sources for further instruction. "

The monumental encyclopedia also enjoyed international renown. The encyclopedia Richard Collison described it as "the greatest Western encyclopaedia ever attempted".

See also: History and Development of the Encyclopedia


Volume distribution and total stock of articles (PDF)


The General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts was digitized by the Göttingen Digitization Center of the Goettingen State and University Library.

See also


  • Joachim Bahlcke : Encyclopedia and Enlightenment in Literary Germany. On the life and work of the Silesian librarian Johann Samuelersch (1766–1828). In: Reports and Research. Yearbook of the Federal Institute for East German Culture and History. Volume 5, 1997, ISSN  0945-2362 , ISBN 3-486-56349-1 .
  • Bettina Rüdiger: Der "ersch-Gruber ": conception, printing and history of the impact of the General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts . In: Leipzig yearbook on book history. Vol. 14, 2005, ISSN  0940-1954 , pp. 11-78.
  • JS Versch, JG Gruber: General encyclopedia of sciences and arts . Unchanged reprint of the Leipzig edition 1818–1889. 168 volumes, 78,798 pages. Section I: A – G, 99 volumes. Section II: H – Li, 43 volumes. Section III: O – Ph, 25 volumes. 1 table volume for Section 1, Volumes 1–14. Academic Printing and Publishing Company, Graz 1969, ISBN 978-3-201-00093-2

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. ^ Karl Heinrich Ludwig Pölitz : Mixed writings from the circles of history, statecraft, and literature in general . Volume 2. Göschen, Leipzig 1831, p. 226.
  3. ^ Robert Collison: Encyclopaedias. Their history throughout the ages. A bibliographical guide with extensive historical notes to the general encyclopaedias issued throughout the world from 350 BC to the present day . 2nd Edition. Hafner, New York / London 1966, p. 182.