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Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary – International Edition, 1958

Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary - International Edition, 1958

Artefact 52

This two-volume dictionary is the reason why Margaret can spell accurately. And she has the vocabulary to beat me consistently at Scrabble. The books are still in immaculate condition but Margaret can remember looking up words when at Primary school. Each volume has over 700 pages in three columns of 6 point. We think it was probably bought on a door-salesman ten-bob-a-week type of scheme. The company started in the 1870s and published a range of dictionaries and encyclopedias. It was taken over by Reader’s Digest in 1965 but dissolved into different directions by the 1980s and 1990s. The online dictionary using the name is a fake. The tradename now appears to be owned by Britannica.

Funk & Wagnalls dictionaries, family of English-language dictionaries noted for their emphasis on ease of use and current usage.”

The first Funk & Wagnalls dictionary was A Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1893). It espoused four policies pertinent to its initial and future publications: the ordering of definitions according to current, rather than historical, usage; the appearance of etymologies at the end of definitions, rather than at the beginning; the use of one alphabetical list for all entries, rather than separate sections for geographical, biographical, mythological, or biblical terms; the use of lowercase initial letters for all entry titles except proper nouns.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Funk-and-Wagnalls-dictionaries

It’s a fine possession (or is it posession, possesion, even – see what I did there?) and it’s too important to be discarded at this time. There are too many dictionaries in the world for it to have any, other than sentimental, value. A joker has one set on eBay at £20 with £70 postage and packing. It’s easy to check spelling online but the quote above indicates the high level of skill and purpose in the presentation of a printed dictionary.

Good reading.

Read about the origins of the Artefact series >

By Angus Willson

The editor of this site and author of this blogpost.

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