Ye olde maths textbooke found after 470 years
Sunday 28 August 2005
The puzzles, set in 1536 to tax the minds of merchants, are contained in the oldest English arithmetic book in existence, which has been acquired for the nation by the British Library, which will keep it in its collection.
As well as the problems, including questions about payments for clergy, cats scaling trees and market trading, the book gives instructions about calculating weights and the use of an abacus. It also marks the transition from Roman numerals to Arabic figures.
Printed in St Albans by John Ehfurt, the edition of An Introduccion for to lerne to rekyn with the pen, & with the counters is the earliest known copy to have survived. Few practical books from the period still exist, as they were so heavily used that they just fell to pieces. Even later editions of this book are very rare.
The copy had previously been unknown and came to light in the private library of the earls of Macclesfield. It was bought for £97,500 with funds raised by Friends of the British Library and Friends of National Libraries.
A British Library spokeswoman said: "This is the only known surviving copy of the first printed mathematical book in English. It influenced many subsequent books in English about the teaching and study of arithmetic. This book is particularly significant because it marks the transition from a clerical to a secular, merchant culture, and the developing use of the English language instead of Latin. This is an exciting acquisition."
The rule and questyon of a catte.
There is a catte at the fote of a tre the length of 300 fote / this catte goeth upwarde eche daye 17 fote, and descendeth eche nyght 12 fote. I demaunde in how longe tyme shall she be at ye toppe.
Answere Take vp and abate the nyght of the daye / that is 12 of 17, and there remayneth 5, therfore the catte mounteth eche daye 5 fote / deuyde now 300 by 5 & therof cometh 60, dayes then she shal be at the toppe. [sic]
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo shot dead at war memorial
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: Provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing reinstated by YouTube
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...
£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...
£45000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Datacentre Consultant (Datacentre,...