539
539
Ramsden, Jesse (1735–1800)
DESCRIPTION OF AN ENGINE FOR DIVIDING STRAIT LINES ON MATHEMATICAL INSTRUMENTS. LONDON: WILLIAM RICHARDSON, 1779
Estimate
2,0003,000
LOT SOLD. 2,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
539
Ramsden, Jesse (1735–1800)
DESCRIPTION OF AN ENGINE FOR DIVIDING STRAIT LINES ON MATHEMATICAL INSTRUMENTS. LONDON: WILLIAM RICHARDSON, 1779
Estimate
2,0003,000
LOT SOLD. 2,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing

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London

Ramsden, Jesse (1735–1800)
DESCRIPTION OF AN ENGINE FOR DIVIDING STRAIT LINES ON MATHEMATICAL INSTRUMENTS. LONDON: WILLIAM RICHARDSON, 1779
4to, (273 x 212mm.), second edition, 3 folding engraved plates, modern brown boards, title slightly soiled, plates slightly browned with marginal repairs
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Cyril Ernest Kenney (1898-1973), sale in these rooms, 23 May 1967, lot 3395; Swann Galleries, 4 May 1989, lot 341; bought from Palinurus Rare Books, PA, 1989

Literature

Tomash & Williams R6; ESTC T31670 

Catalogue Note

The author was proprietor of a shop in Piccadilly from which he sold navigational instruments. He had perfected in 1768 and 1774 machine tools which mechanised the process of marking off angles on quadrants and sextants, and in 1777 constructed a tool for dividing straight lines on mathematical instruments. This straight line dividing engine was purchased by the Board of Longitude, which published Ramsden’s Description with a preface by the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, and engravings of the engine taken from Ramsden’s own drawings.

"This is not the first description of a dividing engine, but it was the most sophisticated of its day. It was common practice among instrument makers to keep the details of their dividing engines as trade secrets. This publication is a landmark in the history of instrument making" (Tomash & Williams).

The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing

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London