EUCLID (fl. c. 300 B.C.) The Elements of Geometrie. Translated into English by Sir Henry Billingsley (d. 1606), with a preface by John Dee (1527-1608). London: John Daye, 1570.
2° (298 x 200mm). Title within an allegorical woodcut border, showing Time bringing Truth and Antiquity to light [McKerrow & Ferguson 99]. Folding letterpress 'Groundplat' or table accompanying John Dee's preface. Geometrical diagrams throughout, 37 in Book XI with one or more overslips. Woodcut initials and ornaments, and portrait of John Day on colophon. (Title soiled and waterstained, the following leaf soiled on recto and with worm trace at outer margin, most of the preface rather soiled and waterstained at margins, the folding table with 130mm. clean tear repaired on verso and with a smaller paper repair on recto, some light waterstaining of later leaves, seven lines on Hh1v of Book IV heavily soiled, the same leaf also holed with slight loss and with laminated repair on verso, Rr2-3 with paper repair at upper margin affecting running title, 2S5 of Book XI holed and repaired with loss of a few letters on recto, the same leaf also soiled, colophon leaf with small nick at outer and waterstain at upper margin, without final blank.) Early 20th-century blind-tooled roan, preserving old morocco lettering-piece, blue speckled edges (extremities rubbed). Provenance: George Willson (inscription dated 1598 on colophon, other erased inscriptions on title).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST COMPLETE ENGLISH TRANSLATION. The first 'intrusion' of Euclidean theory into English occurs in Robert Recorde's The Pathway to Knowledge (London, 1551), the Tudor mathematician explaining its practical benefit for the purposes of surveying, land measuring, and building. This full translation by Sir Henry Billingsley, a successful London merchant who later became Lord Mayor, relied on the achievments of two earlier editors, Campanus and Zamberti, and undoubtedly benefited from the involvement of John Dee who not only wrote the 'very fruitfull preface' but contributed many annotations and additional theorems. The printing by John Day (1522-1584) of such a large folio, complete with its folding overslips, was a monumental task, and his portrait is included both on the colophon and possibly as the bearded figure of Mercury at the foot of the title-page. The overslips were originally prined as six bifolia bound in at the end. Thomas-Stanford 41; STC 10560.