Friday, June 25

The First Six Books of The Elements of Euclid

Another favorite resource of mine for browsing historical artifacts is the Google Books archive, located at:

While this archive spans books published from the mid nineteenth century up to present day works, I am particularly interested in the older selections offered, as they are often in the public domain, and thus available—in their entirety—as free PDF downloads.

As I was browsing these public domain books, I was thrilled to come upon a text that I had briefly read of before; it was written in 1847 by English gentleman Oliver Byrne, with the peculiar extended title of The First Six Books of The Elements of Euclid In Which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners.

Take a look here:

Now, at first thought such a text might seem both incredibly dull and visually uninspiring; however, what makes this text quite spectacular are the “coloured diagrams and symbols” which turn the facets of geometry into an aesthetically captivating endeavor. What I find even more stunning is the fact that this dynamically designed and printed volume was published in 1847, which seems a true feat of print production.

The Google archived version of the text, however, has but a smattering of pages available in color, which is a real shame. A quick search revealed that the text is also available though an archive from Mathematics Department at the University of British Columbia; the image above is from the archive, which can be seen at:

1 comment:

Adoniram said...

Wow - great find. That's a lot of work for the period; I have to assume it would have been a phenomenally expensive purchase at the time. I wish there were more information in the sources you found, I'd love to know how the printing was done. Maybe hand-carved woodblocks? The registration looks superb too, even more perplexing. Fantastic post!