Applied mathematics for merchants by Renaissance scholar Francesco Ghaligai, 1552


Francesco GHALIGAI: PRATICA D’ARITHMETICA. Nuovamente Rivista, & con somma Diligenza Ristampata. Florence: 1552.

Francesco GHALIGAI: PRATICA D'ARITHMETICA. Di Francesco Ghaligai Fiorentino. Nuovamente Rivista, & con somma Diligenza Ristampata. With wood-cut printer's device (repeated with alterations), 1 geometrical illustration (l. 70v) and 2 illustrated initials. Florence: Bernardo Giunta, 1552.

Small-4to. 112 (of 114) ll. Sign.: A-H8, I6, K-O8, P4. Woodcut and letterpress, bound in early 19th ct. half vellum with multicolour marbled cardboard over 3 raised bands, gilt and hand-written spine title, partly on a mounted leather label.

Rare and important work on applied mathematics for merchants by Renaissance scholar Francesco Ghaligai.

Author, Content: 3rd and apparently last edition (the 1st was published in 1521, the 2nd in 1548) of this influential treatise by Florentine mathematican Francesco Ghaligai (today Galigai, 1498-1573), containing on the first hand applied mathematics for merchant's calculations. Secondly it is a concise account on all contemporary mathematical knowledge. „L'ouvrage de Ghaligai, moins difus que celui de Pacioli [»Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalità«, DJ], a du avoir plus d'influence sur l'etude de máthematiques. C'est un resumé fort bien fait de tout ce qu'on savait alors.“ (Libri). Furthermore Ghaligai's »Pratica d'Arithmetica« is also a milestone in the history of mathematics. In the sections on algebra, he introduces his own notation, and it also contains extracts of Fibonacci's writings that are supposed to be lost, according to Graesse.

Illustration: The book includes 2 wood-cut devices from the Florentine printer Bernardo Giunta, one incorporated in the title page and the other on l. 114v, thus finishing the colophon on l. 114r. Both depict lilies and a snake as main motives, but differ in detail.

Condition: Ll. 82 and 83 [Sign.: Liiii and L(5)] missing. – Title page with crossed out old owner's remark [„Di Fra Franc. dell A (...) tta“], ll. 110 and 111 with two marginal notes. Cover at edges bumped, front paste-down with glued cut out, containing the entry of this edition in an unknown antiquarian catalogue of the 19th ct. Boards worn, some leaves with water-stains at margins and occasionally foxy, binder's cut not even, though with wide margin, generally a well preserved copy.

Rarity: According to Riccardi, Sotheran and De Morgan very rare in all editions even historically. As of August 10th 2022 RBH and JBP/JAP/APO record only 4 copies of present edition at auctions (2006, 1988, 1975, 1958).

Reference: Censimento nazionale delle edizioni italiane del XVI secolo, no. 20219; Universal short title catalogue, no. 831518; Adams, H.M. Catalogue of books printed on the continent of Europe, 1501-1600, in Cambridge libraries, vol. 1, p. 483, G: no. 563; Brunet, J.-C. Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livres (5e éd.), vol. 2, col. 1577; Libri, G. Histoire de sciences máthematiques en Italie, vol. 1, p. 45; Graesse, J.G.T. Trésor de livres rares et précieux, vol. 3, S. 76; Hoock, J.; Jeannin, P. Ars Mercatoria, vol. 1, G:6.3; Riccardi, P. Biblioteca matematica italiana dalla origine della stampa ai primi anni del secolo XIX, vol. I/3, coll. 501f. („Rara“); Sotheran. Bibliotheca Chemico-Mathematica: Catalogue of Works in Many Tongues on Exact and Applied Science, vol. I, p. 77, nos. 1516 and 1517 („Both the above editions were unknown to Professor Morgan and are very rare.“); Smith, D.E. Rara arithmetica (4th ed.), p. 132.