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Exhibit № 40. Anonymous English, early 18th Century

Exhibit № 40. Anonymous English, early 18th Century

A boxwood set of Napier’s Bones

£2,500


Height

Width of case: 3¾ inches (95 mm)

Case

Comprising 10 boxwood single rods of square section, a fixed single rod and a three-rod tablet, contained in a fitted boxwood case with simple incised geometrical patterns to front and reverse surfaces (lacking sliding top; some parts damaged)

Provenance

Sotheby’s London, 21st Sept. 2000, lot 35, sold for £2,470;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.78

John Napier (1550–1617) of Merchiston was a Scottish landowner, the 8th Laird of that seat, and nicknamed Marvellous Merchiston. He was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer and theologist and was best known as the discoverer of logarithms, he also made common the use of the decimal point in mathematics.

Napier’s bones is a manually operated calculating device, for the calculation of products and quotients of numbers. The method was based on lattice multiplication, and was also called Rabdology. Napier published his version in 1617 in Rabdology, printed in Edinburgh and dedicated to his patron Alexander Seton.

Napier regarded A Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John, published in 1593, as his most important work. Unlike his other books, it was written in English in order to reach the widest audience and so that, according to Napier, the simple of this island may be instructed. In it he used mathematical analysis of the Book of Revelation to attempt to predict the date of the apocalypse and by his calculations, the end of the world would occur in either 1688 or 1700.

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Product Description

John Napier (1550–1617) of Merchiston was a Scottish landowner, the 8th Laird of that seat, and nicknamed Marvellous Merchiston. He was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer and theologist and was best known as the discoverer of logarithms, he also made common the use of the decimal point in mathematics.

Napier’s bones is a manually operated calculating device, for the calculation of products and quotients of numbers. The method was based on lattice multiplication, and was also called Rabdology. Napier published his version in 1617 in Rabdology, printed in Edinburgh and dedicated to his patron Alexander Seton.

Napier regarded A Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John, published in 1593, as his most important work. Unlike his other books, it was written in English in order to reach the widest audience and so that, according to Napier, the simple of this island may be instructed. In it he used mathematical analysis of the Book of Revelation to attempt to predict the date of the apocalypse and by his calculations, the end of the world would occur in either 1688 or 1700.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm