Lyon: Bartholomaeum Vicentium, 1620.
1st Edition. Soft cover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003076
The Horblit-Tomash copy. Three parts in one volume. Lyon: Bartholomaeum Vicentium, 1620. 8vo (198 x 135 mm), , 56; ;  3-62,  pp., separate title page to each part, first title printed in red and black, woodcut diagrams in text, privilege leaf at end. Old reused vellum, spine with later gilt-lettered morocco label, later endpapers (some soiling of vellum, minor repair to head of spine). Protected in custom-made red morocco-backed cloth slipcase with red cloth chemise. Text only very little browned, occasional minor spotting, single small wormhole in inner margin at end of first part and beginning of second affecting some letters and numbers. Provenance: James Bell (signed on free-endpaper); Harrison D. Horblit, Erwin Tomash (bookplate each to front inner cover). A fine copy, much less browned than usual. ----
Tomash & Williams N5bis (this copy); Macdonald, Napier, pp.141-143; Honeyman 2292; Dibner 106; Horblit 77a-b; PMM 116; Norman 1573; J. Shurkin, Engines of the Mind: A History of the Computer (New York, 1984), pp. 28-31; STC 18349 (original editions) - This copy is the First continental (Lyon) edition of Napier's 1614 description and canon of logarithms and posthumous 1619 treatise on their construction; second issue, with first title dated 1620 instead of 1619. III: "His 'Description of the Wonderful Table of Logarithms' is unique in the history of science in that a great discovery was the result of the unaided original speculation of one individual without precursors and almost without contemporaries in his field. Napier began work on his tables in 1594, but it was twenty years before he was ready to publish them, in this thin quarto volume of ninety pages" (PMM). Napier's logarithms reduced multiplication and division to a simple process of addition and subtraction, and the extraction of roots to division. "The idea of using logarithms in mathematics was accepted almost instantly, and the slide rule, one of the most important offspring of logarithms, lasted for more than 300 years, until solid-state electronics finally replaced it" (Shurkin, p.30). Napier's invention was immediately adopted by mathematicians both in England and on the continent, including Briggs and Ursinus, who introduced logarithms to Kepler. The book's impact on the art of navigation cannot be underestimated: "Probably no work has ever influenced science as a whole, and mathematics in particular, so profoundly as this modest little book. It opened the way for the abolition, once and for all, of the infinitely laborious, nay, nightmarish, processes of long division and multiplication, of finding the power and the root of numbers..." (D.W. Waters, The Art of Navigation in England in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times, New Haven, 1958, p.402). Henry Briggs saw the immense power of Napier's tool and "with his strong navigational bent" put the work into English so that it could be "of very great use for Mariners... a booke of more than ordinary worth, especially for Sea-Men" (Waters, p.404). - Visit our website for additional images and information.
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