An Especially Well-Preserved Copy of the Editio Princeps of Euclid

ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.

(Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 25 May 1482). 292 x 210 mm. (11 5/8 x 8 1/8"). [136] (of 138) leaves (lacking the final blank and the dedication leaf, the latter replaced by a very convincing facsimile done by Flora Ginn on matching paper from the period).Translated by Adelardus Bathoniensis. Edited by Johannes Campanus. EDITIO PRINCEPS.

Attractive early 20th century honey brown morocco, gilt, by Riviere & Son (stamp-signed on front turn-in) covers with frame of five gilt rules, strapwork heptagram at center, raised bands, compartments framed by four gilt rules, gilt titling, turn-ins with five gilt rules, all edges gilt. Ornate woodcut three-quarter border and 11-line white-vine initial on opening page of text, and more than 400 geometric diagrams in the margins of the text. Front pastedown with glue stains from now-loose engraved armorial bookplate; occasional neat ink marginalia in an early hand. Goff E-113; BMC V, 285; PMM 25; Norman 729. Very minor rubbing to extremities, leaves lightly pressed (but not washed), occasional small marginal stains or smudges, but A VERY FINE COPY, especially clean and fresh internally, in a binding with few signs of wear.

This is a ground-breaking work both for its pioneering content and its innovative printing. PMM notes that "Elements" is "the oldest mathematics textbook in the world still in common use today"; Sir Thomas Hearne, editor of the modern edition, attests, "No work presumably, except the Bible, has had such a reign, and future generations will come back to it again and again as they tire of the variegated substitutes for it, and the confusion arising from their bewildering multiplicity." PMM recognizes it as "an outstandingly fine piece of printing," observing that "the care and intelligence with which diagrams are combined with the text made it a model for subsequent mathematical books." One of the great innovations of this work is Ratdolt's method for printing diagrams, a problem that had stymied the production of scientific works. According to Norman, "Ratdolt used printer's 'rules,' i.e. thin strips of metal, type high, which he bent and cut and adjusted and set into a substance that would both hold them (and pieces of type) in place." Euclid's third-century B.C. writings are contained in the first 13 books here, which provide much of the basis for mathematics as we know it. The first four books are concerned with plane geometry, and set forth 10 basic assumptions (axioms) that underpin everything else, among them "Given two points there is one straight line that joins them," "Things equal to the same thing are equal," and "The whole is greater than a part." The proof for the Pythagorean theorem is set out here. Euclid then proceeds to cover ratios and proportions, number theory (defining such familiar concepts as even, odd, and prime numbers), algorithms, geometric progression, and three-dimensional figures. Supplementing that text is the apocryphal book XIV by Hypsicles of Alexandria (second century B.C.) and book XV, attributed to the school of Isidore of Miletos, architect of Hagia Sophia, both continuing the discussion of three-dimensional objects. According to Britannica, "Almost from the time of its writing, the 'Elements' exerted a continuous and major influence on human affairs. It was the primary source of geometric reasoning, theorems, and methods at least until the advent of non-Euclidean geometry in the 19th century. . . . Euclid may not have been a first-class mathematician, but he set a standard for deductive reasoning and geometric instruction that persisted, practically unchanged, for more than 2,000 years." Copies of the 1482 Euclid are not exactly rare in the marketplace, but a complete copy will now cost a staggering sum: the two most recent complete copies sold for $125,000 (Christie's, 2017) and $62,500 (Swann, 2016), both copies with severe condition issues (serious trimming, mold, unsightly discoloration, etc.).
(CBJ1724)

Add to Cart Price: $95,000.00

PJP Catalog: CA18BF.054

ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE. EUCLID.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.
ELEMENTA GEOMETRIAE.