The following document is an abstract of a paper accepted for presentation at the Visual Delights III — Magic and Illusion conference at the University of Sheffield, July 15-17th 2005.

In the opening years of the nineteenth century Abraham Rees assembled information for the publication in 1819 of the Cyclopaedia; or Universal Dictionary of Arts Sciences, and Literature, with (according to the frontispiece) "the assistance of eminent professional gentlemen". In volume twelve of the thirty-nine volume work is an entry under the heading of "Dramatic Machinery."

The information contained in the Cyclopaedia is therefore of fundamental significance as it represents the first major printed work on British stage machinery. Its importance is further enhanced by the fact that it was written by someone personally experienced in the field and capable of providing an invaluable insight into the profession of the early nineteenth-century stage machinist.

3 May 2005