De Arithmetica

Author: Filippo Calandri (Italian, 15th century)

Publisher: Lorenzo da Morgiani and Giovanni Thedesco da Maganza (Italian, active 15th century)

Dedicatee: Lorenzo de' Medici (Italian, Florence 1449–1492 Florence)

Published in: Florence

Date: January 1, 1491

Medium: Printed book with woodcut illustrations

Dimensions: Overall: 5 5/16 x 4 5/16 x 13/16 in. (13.5 x 11 x 2 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1919

Accession Number: 19.24


This is one of the first inexpensive illustrated textbooks making it available to many more students than earlier teaching materials, which had been written by hand on vellum. The small size and the many diagrams made it easier to use, while the pictures must have made math more bearable to young students. The woodcuts, which range from ornamental classicizing borders framing multiplication tables to lively depictions of people and animals that illustrate word problems, are exquisite examples of the flowering of Florentine woodcut illustration in the 1490s.
On this page, we see a series of hand gestures that signify numbers.