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Title: Calculating value : using and collecting the tools of early modern mathematics
Author: Tracey, Kevin G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 4648
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2019
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Through detailed evaluation of the Science Museum Library's Rare Books Collection, this thesis explores the use, ownership and subsequent collection of mathematical books produced between 1550 and 1750. Research has been undertaken as part of a Collaborative Doctoral Award between Swansea University and the Science Museum, London, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018. Consisting of close to 1,700 titles published between 1486 and 1800 encompassing the pre-modern classification of mathematics, this subset of the Rare Books Collection represents a remarkable accumulation of the practical and the theoretical across a variety of disciplines and languages. My thesis begins by characterising these mathematical holdings in aggregate, analysing the contents and physical features of the texts therein. Findings are supplemented by examination of accompanying provenance, including bindings, bookplates, and signatures. Discrete case-studies then present key texts as part of their readers' burgeoning mathematical practice, with chapters focussing on the spread of Ramist pedagogies of arithmetic, geometry, and trigonometry in sixteenth-century Germany; the interconnected use of text, instrument and theory in early modern English intellectual and navigational cultures; and the value attached to the related disciplines of mathematical astronomy and chronology at the University of Cambridge in the late 1690s. The thesis closes with a reconstruction of the library of the clergyman and mathematician, Nathaniel Torporley (1564-1632), tracing the journey of Torporley's materials to the collection of the antiquarian Robert Brodhead Honeyman (1897-1987) and to the Science Museum thereafter. By placing the Museum's Library and its holdings in their correct historical contexts, this thesis contributes to our understanding of mathematical culture in the early modern period, to the history of collecting in the modern era, and to the Science Museum's understanding of its own holdings and of its role as an institutional collector.
Supervisor: Mosley, Adam J. ; Wyatt, Nicholas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral