A Rarity by a 16th c. Spanish Mathematician - The Honeyman Copy

Martínez Silíceo, Juan [Johann Martinus Blasius] (1486?-1557)

Liber arithmetice, practice astrologis, phisicis et calculatoribus admodum utilis [ab] Johannis Martini Blasÿ.

Paris: Thomas Kées for Jean Petit and Jean Lambert, 23 June 1513


FIRST EDITION, the issue with Jean Petit’s device on the title.

Bound in full brown morocco by Zaehnsdorf. The text is in fine condition with a few early annotations, two tiny wormholes in the first two signatures, a few small stains in the gutter of some signatures and occasionally in the margins, bottom blank margin of the title replaced, not affecting the woodcut border or letterpress.

Title printed in red and black with woodcut Jean Petit's printer's device (Renouard 887), showing two lions rampant with Petit's arms, suspended from a tree, against a criblé background. The title text framed by a gothic architectural border populated by a lecturing magister and his discipuli (who are dutifully taking notes.) The text is adorned with criblé initials and woodcut diagrams. EXTREMELY RARE. Yale only in North America.

Provenance: Johannes Knipfberg fisicus, faded inscription on title; L'Art Ancien, Zurich, Bulletin XVII, (c.1928-1930), item 679 (Sfr 300); Robert B. Honeyman (1897-1987), 31 October 1978, lot 350, Globe Bookstore, £500; E.P. Goldschmidt & Co., London, 1987

The author was an Iberian mathematician who had come to the University of Paris in 1498, where he taught mathematics (to Oronce Finé among others), while being a student (of dialectic and theology); he afterwards was called to Salamanca as professor of natural philosophy.

"This work on arithmetic is divided into four parts. The first deals with the usual arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square roots, cube and even fourth roots as well a short section on mixed-radix (compound) numbers such as those used in money. The second portion deals with operations on the table abacus. The third is concerned with fractions, and the last with the rule of three. The title page shows the author lecturing to a group of fourteen pupils, all of whom are attentive and most of whom are taking notes. The printer may not have been familiar with the new Hindu–Arabic numerals when he began this work because an early addition example shows a “2” printed upside down."(Tomash)

Tomash & Williams M55; BP16 102321; Navarro Brotóns 517; Smith, Rara arithmetica, pp.95-96; USTC 144136; Moreau II 664; Palau 156382; Vaganay 25; Impresos cientificos 995