These prints originate from volume five of the 1824 supplement to the 1823 Sixth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. The Britannica was the idea of Colin Macfarquhar, a bookseller and printer, and Andrew Bell, an engraver, both of Edinburgh. They conceived of the Britannica as a conservative reaction to the French Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot (published 1751–1766), which was widely viewed as heretical. Ironically, the Encyclopédie had begun as a French translation of the popular English encyclopedia, Cyclopaedia published by Ephraim Chambers in 1728. Although later editions of Chambers' Cyclopaedia were still popular, and despite the commercial failure of other English encyclopedias, Macfarquhar and Bell were inspired by the intellectual ferment of the Scottish Enlightenment and thought the time ripe for a new encyclopedia "compiled upon a new plan".

The first edition was reprinted in London, with slight variants on the title page and a different preface, by Edward and Charles Dilly in 1773 and by John Donaldson in 1775. By the time the Sixth Edition was published in 1823, the Britannica had been sold to Archibald Constable.

These three engravings were produced by W & D Lizars and measure 8.25 inches by 10.5 inches. The prints illustrate various forms and parts of staircases. There is some light fading/discoloration at the edges, some stains, but the print is generally clean and intact.  Title page is shown for reference and is not included in the sale.