NEW YORK: Merriam-Webster, 1961. Second Edition. Hardcover. This is probably the very last printing of the 1959 edition of this venerable, storied, exhaustive, beautiful, and last-word version of Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, First issued in 1934 and last printed in 1961 before giving way to the Third Edition. THE premier and still ultimate researcher's dictionary in lovely condition, AND dustjacket. Unbelievably (and I loathe to use this word in describing a book), NEAR PRISTINE! NOTE: There are seven leaves (14 or so pages) which unfortunately show a bit
of corner creasing, to top or/and bottom. Alas,someone just couldn't restrain themselves in racing to prove their linguistic point! But this perhaps, in the service of some natural humility?
The dustjacket flaps are separated, but now preserved together with the front and back panels in archival mylar, and said dustjacket may have a few stray nicks and tears, but without question, this is the most gorgeous copy of this book, that we, entering our twenty-seventh year of continuous business,have ever laid eyes upon. Not for the non-musculuar of brain or body, and not for the pennypincher, this book is offered at a very dear price, mainly because we don't really want to part
with it. IF there is a appropriate and rightful owner out there, money will simply NOT be any object.
Size 12 3/8 9 x6 inches. Weight 16 lbs. Tan Library cloth-over-boards, red and green marbled edges, tab indexed of bright gilt on black. Contains 600,000 Entries; 12,000 Terms Illustrated; 13,000 Geographical Entries.
Preliminary Pages: Book begins with full-color tissue-guarded charts of the Great Seals of the United States and Territories, State Flags of the United States, Arms of Various Nations, Arms and Flags of The British Empire, Flags of Various Nations (including the Nazi Flag); and House Flags of Steamship Lines. Then, an introduction and actual photographs of every single special editor or editorial staff member who contributed to this massive and gorgeous pinnacle of scholarship; a nearly-sixty-page guide to pronounciation; a section on Orthography; and a Brief History of The English Language. Dictionary itself runs from Page 1 through Page 2987, followed by sections on Abbreviations, Signs and Symbols, Pronouncing guide, etc, all the way to 3196, and includes numerous pages of photographs, full-color plates (Representative Orchids, Gems, Poisonous Plants, State Flowers, to name most).
Following the conclusion of the last entry, Zyzzogeton, there follows: Charts of Abbreviations; Arbitrary Signs and Symbols; Pronouncing Gazeteer and Pronouncing Biographical Dictionary (containing more than 13,500 names of noteworthy persons, their nationality, their station, their profession or occupation, and the dates of their birth and death). In additon a small insert "How to Care for your Merriam-Webster's Dictionary" is laid in. Near Fine in Dustjacket. Item #84661
Its makers write: "Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition is the culmination of a century's experience in dictionary making. For more than 100 years the work of the editorial staff has been continuous... 207 special editors labored ten years to make this a comprehensive, authoritative and up-to-date reference work to serve today's needs" In (it) "the consultant will find answers to all questions, not only about meanings, but also about spelling, hyphenation, preferred forms, the part of speech to which a word belongs, pronunciation, etymology, synonyms, and multitudes of other problems..."
Why this Second Edition is considered preferable to the newer Third Edition
The Second, (which is THIS book we're offering) we've been told, is actually preferred by scholars over the Third Edition, due to its strict adherence to correct English, its purportedly greater etymological/philological detail reflecting deeper entry-by-entry scholarship,
its superior aesthetic and design sense " Gary Wills in the New Review opined that the new dictionary 'has all the modern virtues. It is big, expensive, and ugly. It should be a great success')"
Edited by Philip Babcock Gove, the Third encompassed radical changes which some found unacceptable: "...To make room for 100,000 new words, Gove now made sweeping deletions, dropping 250,000 entries. He eliminated the 'nonlexical matter' that more properly belongs to an encyclopaedia, including all names of people and places (which had filled two appendices). There were no more mythological, biblical, and fictional names, nor the names of buildings, historical events, or art works. Thirty picture plates were dropped. The rationale was that, while useful, these are not strictly about language... Also removed were words which had been virtually out of use for over two hundred years (except those found in major literature such as Shakespeare), rare variants, reformed spellings, self-explanatory combination words, and other items considered of little value to the general reader. The number of small text illustrations was reduced, page size increased, and print size reduced by one-twelfth, from six point to agate (5.5 point) type. All this was considered necessary because of the large amount of new material..."
"In the early 1960s, Webster's Third came under attack for its "permissiveness" and its failure to tell people what proper English was. ...as conservatives detected yet another symbol of the permissiveness of society as a whole and the decline of authority, as represented by the Second Edition. As historian Herbert Morton explained, "Webster's Second was more than respected. It was accepted as the ultimate authority on meaning and usage and its preeminence was virtually unchallenged in the United States. It did not provoke controversies, it settled them." Critics charged that the dictionary was reluctant to defend standard English, for example entirely eliminating the labels "colloquial", "correct", "incorrect", "proper", "improper", "erroneous", "humorous", "jocular", "poetic", and "contemptuous", among others..."
Further, "...The consensus held that the Third was a "marvelous achievement, a monument of scholarship and accuracy". They did come up with some specific criticisms, including typographic unattractiveness (the type is too small and hard to read); non-use of capital letters (only "God" was capitalized; the goal was to save space); excessive use of citations, giving misspellings as legitimate variants, dropping too many obsolete words, the lack of usage labels, and deliberate omission of biographical and geographical entries.