Odd entries in the old Encyclopedia Britannica

The first edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in 1768 and included some odd entries, even describing monsters as a human species. The editors of British newspaper The Daily Telegraph share some of the weirdness:

Humans and monsters

Homo sapiens were sub divided into five varieties: the American, the European, the Asiatic, the African and the monstrous.


Cures for flatulence included drinking chamomile tea and blowing smoke from a pipe ‘through the anus.’


Chocolate was prohibited to be imported but may be made at home for private use ‘upon three days notice given to the officer of excise, and provided no less than half an hundred weight be made at one time.’


Petroleum was used as an ointment to treat pains of the limbs, and to try and cure paralysis. (No cars in those days yet.)

Solar system

The solar system was described as having six planets. (Uranus was discovered in 1781 and Neptune in 1846.)


The US state of Callifornia was spelt with two ‘L’s’ and is described as ‘a large country of the West Indies. Unknown whether it is an island or a peninsula.’

first-encyclopedia-britannicaFirst Encyclopaedia Britannica

About The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph was founded by Colonel Arthur B. Sleigh in June 1855 as the Daily Telegraph and Courier.

During the Second World War, the ability to solve The Telegraph’s crossword in under 12 minutes was considered a recruitment test for code breakers for Bletchley Park, according to the Wikipedia article on the newspaper’s history.

The Daily Telegraph is on of the highest-selling British newspapers. It was the first UK newspaper to have a web site version, launched in 1994; telegraph.co.uk.

See the original Telegraph entry about the old Encyclopaedia Britannica articles.

08/20/2010. Category: odd. Tags: , , .

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