This work is a source of reference on industrial production in the last quarter of the 19th century. Written to satisfy "the desire upon the part of every skilled man to know something of the character and pursuits of his fellow-men in every other art of importance", it details the techniques, processes and machinery employed in more than 150 countries.
The breadth of the coverage demonstrates the extent of the transformation with every sector of the economy undergoing fundamental change: agriculture, with extensive coverage of the mechanization of farming
transport, not only with the coming of railroads, but with the constant improvement in carriage manufacture
communications, including the development of the telegraph and innovations in the printing industry
manufacturing, from furniture to the emerging chemical industries
the defence industry
public and social services with a host of innovations from steam-driven fire engines to improvements in the manufacture of artificial limbs.
Extensively illustrated throughout, each section includes an overview of the technology prevalent in that branch of industry and an outline of the most recent innovations.