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My First Encyclopedia

The first edition of “The Golden Book Encyclopedia” was published in a joint venture between Simon & Schuster and Western Printing and Lithographing Company in 1946. The author of the edition was Dorothy A. Bennett and the illustrator was Cornelius De Witt. It made a impression on me, if only for the wealth of illustrations, notably the formulaic tromp l’oeil covers, featuring a painted collage of the contents of each volume. Imagine doing so many. I often fantasized that secret messages were strategically placed therein. Probably not, but in my mind the encyclopedia covers were kinda-maybe the precedent of the Sgt. Pepper cover.

A 16-volume hardcover edition was published from 1959 to 1969; these sets were written by Bertha Morris Parker, formerly of the Laboratory Schools at the University of Chicago and research associate at the Chicago Natural History Museum. The 1988 edition, titled “The Golden Book Encyclopedia” lists the author as “Golden Press,” and contains 4 extra volumes, making it a 20-volume set.

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