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Mathematical Treasure: Mathematicall Recreations in English

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

This is the title page of Mathematicall Recreations, translated from a French book of the same title written by Jean Leurechon. French mathematician Claude Bachet (1581-1638) is often credited with kicking off the recreational mathematics craze that continues to this day with his 1612 publication Problèmes plaisans et delectables qui se font par les nombres. Leurechon (or Leurochon), who may have used the pen name Henry (or Henrik) van Etten, based his 1624 Récréations mathématiques on the work of Bachet; the English editions appeared in 1633, 1653 and 1674. The pages shown here are from the third edition of 1674.

On pages 22 and 23, the “wine pouring” problem is given.

Editor's note: The Library of Congress entry for its copy of the 1633 English edition of the book reads, “Authorship in doubt. Variously attributed to Jean Leurochon, Hendrik van Etten and William Oughtred (to whom is also attributed the translation).”

The images above are supplied through the courtesy of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection of the Pennsylvania State University Library and the assistance of Dr. Sandra Stelts, Curator of the Collection.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Mathematicall Recreations in English," Convergence (June 2015)