THE MOST FAMOUS MATHEMATICAL TEXTBOOK

Opera.

Venice, Joannes Tacuinus de Tridino, 1510.

£29,500

Folio, 240 unnumbered leaves. (10) A-Z8, AA-EE8, FF6, lacking last blank. Theorems in gothic letter, demonstrations in Roman, first two lines of title woodcut with rich gothic decoration, large woodcut device of St. John the Baptist signed BM beneath. First leaf of text printed in red and black with large white on black woodcut border on three sides of putti, mermen, vines vases (taken from the 1504, Legendario delli sancti), printer’s white on black device on verso of last, fine large white on black historiated and floriated initials, outer margins with printed geometrical diagrams on most pages, “nulla virtus sine labore” in contemporary hand in shield on woodcut border, some contemporary marginalia, including a manuscript diagram on B6. Lower outer corner of title a little thumbed, small worm trail in upper blank margin of first few leaves, occasional minor marginal water staining, the odd spot or ink splash. A very good copy, crisp and clean, on thick paper, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties, title manuscript on spine, vellum a little creased and stained.

A lovely example of a beautiful and important book. “It was a translation into Latin from a Greek text by Bartolomeo Zamberti who claims that he has restored and excluded from the exposition of Theon many things that were ‘subversa et prepostere voluta’ in the version of Campanus. For example, the Pythagorean proposition becomes the 47th of the first book as we know it. Zamberti contributes a long preface on the life of Euclid. The thirteen books of the Elements are followed by the Phaenomena and Specularia.

The volume itself is a first rate example of the Venetian book of the time. There is an elaborate title-page with the printer’s well known cut of John the Baptist at the foot. The first page of the text has a fine border, and the larger initial letters are a charming set depicting children playing. In 1510, some of the same sheets were reissued with a freshly printed last page. Both issues seem to be among the rarest of early Euclids” Thomas-Stanford pp. 5-6. In fact this issue is entirely reset after gathering O.

Zamberti’s was a very significant edition. It was the first publication of a Greek based Latin ‘Elements’ as an integral whole, the Greek text he employed was essentially uncorrupted and it is the first to contain translations of a number of the minor Euclidian works. It may not be as superior to Campani’s recension (the first edition) as Zamberti claims but at least it is free of the errors of the mediaeval copyists.

“Euclid’s Elements of Geometry is the oldest mathematical textbook in the world still in common use today.” Printing and the Mind of Man 25 on first edition. This is a lovely, fresh copy, with wonderfully clear impression of the type and woodcuts of this important work, rare in its original binding.

BM STC It. p.238. Thomas-Stanford 5. Essling 284. Sander 2609.

L1425

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