Publication Date: 1847
EUCLID. 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. xxix, , 268 pp., illustrated throughout with colour-printed diagrams. Small 4to, 237 x 188 mm., bound in original publisher's drab cloth, edges untrimmed, in a new half morocco protective box. London: [Charles Whittingham for] William Pickering, 1847. First and only edition of Byrne's Euclid, surely one of the most remarkable Victorian books. These Mondrian-like designs of bold, primary colours are printed in faultless register, and the striking composition on the page is unique in bookmaking. Ruari McLean describes it as "one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the whole century." Both McLean and Joan Friedman agree that it is Whittingham's "triumph." In describing the complicated printing processes, Friedman writes: "Although the areas of colour were all flat tones without any subtleties, it was absolutely necessary that register -- the proper positioning of the blocks for successive printings -- be perfect, so that the angles and lines meet each other at the proper places. Whittingham achieved this and at the same time designed a page of great elegance and balance." Oliver Byrne devised this edition of Euclid as a completely new system for learning geometry. He determined that by using colours (instead of letters) to indicate angles and lines for the various geometric figures, a student could comprehend Euclid's theories in less than a third of the time. This copy is bound in the plain remainder binding, which followed copies in both blue and red cloth. Foxing throughout, as is true in all copies; nevertheless an excellent unwashed, and fresh copy. PROVENANCE: From the library of Sir Robert Peel, with his bookplate. Friedman 43. McLean 70. Keyes, Pickering 53.