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. By Oliver Byrne.

London: William Pickering, 1847. Small 4to, xxix, 268 pp., color diagrams throughout printed in red, blue, yellow, and black; wood-engraved initials. Early half black calf, gilt backstrip, red label, marbled boards, a very good copy beautifully cleaned and restored by Court Benson. First edition of Byrne’s work on Euclidean geometry, in which colours are substituted for the usual letters to designate the angles and lines of geometric figures. Written and designed to simplify Euclid’s propositions, this remarkable example of Victorian printing is described by McLean as “one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the whole century”. Designed and printed by Charles Wittingham of the Chiswick Press, each proposition is set in Caslon italic, with a four line initial: “the rest of the page is a unique riot of red, yellow and blue: on some pages letters and numbers only are printed in color, sprinkled over the pages like tiny wild flowers, demanding the most meticulous register: elsewhere, solid squares, triangles and circles are printed in gaudy and theatrical colors, attaining a verve not seen again on book pages till the days of Dufy, Matisse and Derain.” (McLean). Byrne was Surveyor of Her Majesty’s Settlements in the Falkland Islands and also published mathematical and engineering works. Burch page 139: “decidedly picturesque... decidedly original.” Friedman 43. Ing, Charles Whittingham Printer, 46. Keynes, Pickering, pages 37, 65. McLean, Victorian Book Design, p. 70. PMM (1963) part 2, 150: “this gay and amusing experiment.”. Item #122390

Price: $16,500.00

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