SPEIDELL, John A geometricall extraction, or a compendious collection of the chiefe and choyse problemes,

London, Edward Allde for the author, 1617


4to. pp. [viii], 126, [ii]. A–R4. [without A1, blank but for signature] Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut on title, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque head and tail-pieces, innumerable woodcut mathematical figures in text, Erwin Tomash label on pastedown. Light age yellowing, rare marginal thumb mark or mark. A very good copy, crisp on thick paper, in late C19th three quarter calf over marbled boards, spine with raised bands, tan morocco label gilt, joints a little worn.

Rare second issue of the first edition of this didactic geometry, with the same typesetting as the 1616 edition, but without the ruled borders on the right and bottom edges of each page. Little is known of John Speidell’s early years including any record of a university affiliation. He is first noticed as a professional teacher of applied mathematics in London, where he advertised himself as teaching mathematics and the use of instruments in English, French, Latin, or Dutch. He is known to have attended Henry Briggs’ lectures on logarithms at Gresham College, and this very probably accounts for his early work on the construction of a table of logarithms with base e. This work lists geometrical problems and their solution. They range from the simple bisection of a line to very complex geometrical situations that might arise in surveying. Mathematically, he is remembered for publishing the first tables of natural logarithms, New Logarithmes, in 1619 and 1622. Speidell published A Geometricall Extraction in 1616 and 1617, and An Arithmeticall Extraction in 1628. Both were advertised as problem sets for mathematical instruction. The work is dedicated to John Egerton, Lord high Chancellor of England. In the dedication Speidell remarks that the work is “partly collected out of others and partly of my owne, and performed by a more speedy way then by any former writer.” He states in the epistle to the reader that he has, for the last ten years, been teaching “many Gentlemen and others (in Arithmeticke, Geometrie, Astronomy..) .. and not having found this part which I present to thy view, (consisting of the best, choyse, and most artificiall Problems..” The work presents one hundred and thirty geometrical problems and their solutions as a practical guide to geometry.

ESTC S117756. STC 23062. Tomash & Williams S171.
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