First collected edition and first printing of much of the writing of Fine, a polymath accomplished in graphic design as well as in the mathematical disciplines. As acknowledged on the title-page verso, Fine was responsible not only for the text of the book, but for its profusion of woodcuts; they range from simple outline diagrams to views of surveying operations and scientific instruments, including a clepsydra, or water-clock, which Fine invented. Among the other decorative elements of Protomathesis
is an alphabet of large woodcut initials, one of which includes a self-portrait of the author (the O on R6v). Many of these blocks were reused throughout the next decade in the series of scientific treatises by Fine printed by Simon de Colines.
“The work is divided into four sections: arithmetic, surveying, cosmography (earth-centered astronomy) and dialing. It was written between 1530 and 1532, with the title pages of individual sections bearing different dates. The work contains a multi-page sexagesimal multiplication table for use in making astronomical calculations” (Tomash & Williams).