“The Greatest Computer of Pure Trigonometrical Tables”

Opus Palatinum de Triangulis a Georgio Ioachimo Rhetico coeptum: L. Valentinus Otho…consummavit.

Title with finely engraved architectural border (image slightly cropped at outer margin, minor staining) & many woodcut diagrams in the text. Some printing in red. 10 p.l. (incl. the engraved title), 85 (i.e., 86) pp., 1 leaf, 86-104 pp.; 140 pp.; 1 p.l., 341 pp., 1 leaf; 121, [1] pp.; 554 pp., one blank leaf; 181 pp. (many mis-paginations). Six parts in one vol. Large thick folio, cont. blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards (extremities somewhat worn, relatively minor worming to first 40 leaves, occasional staining), two (of four) catches. [Neustadt: M. Harnisch], 1596.

First edition of an extremely rare and important book; we sold this copy 25 years ago and now it has, happily, come back to us. I know of only one other nice copy to come on the market in all those intervening years.

Rheticus’s “independent place in the history of mathematics is due precisely to his computation of the innovative and monumental trigonometrical tables.”–D.S.B., XI, p. 396.

This monumental and influential compilation of trigonometrical tables was begun by Rheticus (1514-74), and finished by his disciple Valentin Otho (1550?-1605), professor of mathematics at the University of Wittenberg. It is one of the most significant trigonometrical monographs ever published.

“Dr. Glaisher, referring to the work of Rhaeticus, speaks of him as ‘by far the greatest computer of pure trigonometrical tables’ and as one ‘whose work has never been superseded’.”–Smith, History of Mathematics, II, p. 627. Indeed, modern recomputations have found the tables of Rheticus to be accurate to a relatively high degree. The need in the 16th century for more accurate trigonometrical tables was great, for without them astronomical and other kinds of observations were useless.

The present work contains the first use of the word ”cosecant.”

This is a very good copy, large and tall. Textually complete copies, like ours, are of the greatest rarity. Our copy lacks three blank leaves. Old ownership inscription at blank foot of title lined-out. The first three leaves of the first part are somewhat stained with some minor loss of text. Leaf AA3 has a small hole affecting a woodcut diagram. The three leaves at end have some unimportant worming touching a few letters.

❧ Cajori, A History of Mathematics, p. 132–”a monument of German diligence and indefatigable perseverance.” The collation as given by the University of Minnesota in WorldCat is oversimplified and misleading. Tomash & Williams R81.

Price: $65,000.00

Item ID: 6768

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