RECORDE, Robert The ground of arts: teaching the perfect worke and practise of arithmeticke, augmented by Mr. Iohn Dee. And since enlarged Iohn Mellis.

London, Printed by Iohn Beale for Roger Iackson, 1623


8vo. pp. [xxvi], 579, 582-613, [i]. Roman Black and Italic letter. “The third part or addition to this booke .. set forth by Iohn Mellis” has divisional title page; pagination and register are continuous.” ESTC. Floriated and white on black criblé initials, typographical ornaments, numerous mathematical tables and diagrams, ‘Francis 1802’ ms. on pastedown, further inscription crossed out beneath, record of death on rear fly dated 1755, autograph illegible at head of title. Very light age yellowing, light occasional mostly marginal water stain, a little heavier on last few leaves, original paper flaws at lower blank margin of Z7 and 8, pp. 484 -5 a little dusty. A very good, entirely unsophisticated copy, crisp and clean with good margins, (a few deckle edges) in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties.

An unusually well preserved copy of an early edition of the most important English arithmetic of the sixteenth century. ‘Recorde has justly been called the founder of the English school of mathematical writers’ (DSB). Convinced of the usefulness of mathematical knowledge and with a desire to spread that knowledge as widely as possible, Recorde became a key figure in the vernacular tradition, being one of the first to write mathematical works in English. His works are primarily concerned with teaching useful mathematical techniques to his readers. Recorde wrote four mathematical textbooks, ‘The Ground of Artes’ (1543) on arithmetic, ‘The Pathway to Knowledge’ (1551) on geometry, ‘The Castle of Knowledge’ (1556) on astronomy and ‘The Whetstone of Witte’ (1557) on algebra. The use of the vernacular, along with his engaging style made Recorde’s works unprecedentedly popular. Rather than using technical terms borrowed from other languages, Recorde invented his own, adapting words from ordinary English. “Recorde was practically the founder of an English School of mathematical writers. He was the first writer in English on Arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy, and the first to introduce algebra into England. He seems in fact to have been one of the first to see the independence of an algebraic operation and its numerical interpretation. Recorde is superior to others, even Vieta, in his perception of general results connected with the fundamental notions of algebra, and he is free from the tendency, then common, to invest simple numbers with the character of planes, solids, etc.” DNB. After Recorde’s death, the Grounde was edited first by John Dee and then by a string of successors, passing through at least forty-five editions up to 1699. “The arithmetic, the Ground of Artes (1543, enlarged in 1552), was the most popular of all Recorde’s works. The first edition (1543) dealt only with whole numbers, covering the fundamental operations, reduction, progression, golden rule and counter reckoning. In 1552 it was enlarged to include the same operations with fractions, and false position and alligation. …. Recorde was not only an able teacher and a skillful textbook writer but was also one of the outstanding scholars of mid-sixteenth-century England… his books remained the standard texts throughout the Elizabethan period. A generation of English scientists, especially the non university men, stated that Recorde’s books had been their first tutors in the mathematical sciences. The excellence of the English school of mathematical practitioners, fostered by growing geographical interests, has been attributed to the high quality of the vernacular movement in applied science begun by Recorde” (DSB). The schoolmaster John Mellis added many tables and a third part, here found with a separate titlepage, in 1582. This final part is an important work ints own right, dealing with merchants, trading, rules of three, loans and interest, barter, coins etc and even “Sportes and Pastimes done by number” All early editions of this book are rare, and particularly so in good contemporary condition, as most often with such practical works, they were used to oblivion.

ESTC S115718. STC 20808. Lowndes 2059. This edition not in Smith, Rara Arithmetica, or Grolier.
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