Printing Euclid

a collaboration with Richard Lawrence

How readers received the Euclidean text is one thing; how it got onto the printed page is another. Detailed issues to do with the technology of print shaped mathematical texts in important ways in this period, from the availability of suitable type in the required quantities to the considerable difficulty of reproducing geometrical diagrams as woodcuts and the role of mathematical expertise in correcting mathematical proof sheets.

With Richard Lawrence, who teaches letterpress printing at the Bibliographical Press in the Bodleian Library, we have been experimenting with hand press technology to get a feel for these difficulties, and for the ways in which the printed page was the result of a negotiation between mathematical authors and specialist printers. So far we have set up and printed a single theorem from Euclid’s Elements, in the 1570 English translation of Henry Billingsley.

We will be sharing our insights here as our experiments unfold.

Click to see photographs from our collaborative sessions:
Printing Euclid, part 1
Printing Euclid, part 2
Printing Euclid, part 3

Letterpress

Euclid's Elements of Geometry in Early Modern Britain