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Mathematical Treasures - Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Girolamo Tagliente was a 16th-century Venetian mathematician and teacher of bookkeeping. His Opera che insegna a fare ogni ragione de mercantia (1525) was a popular text on commercial arithmetic. Several of Tagliente’s works were published in collaboration with a cousin who was a noted calligrapher and this man’s artistic talent may be evident in the Opera.


A block print of two working mathematicians serves as the frontispiece.


The text begins with a discussion on numeration.


“Finger numeral gestures” were very much a part of commercial life at this time.


An illustrated problem involving trade:


The images above are provided courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, George Arthur Plimpton Collection.

Index to Mathematical Treasures 

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasures - Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic," Convergence (October 2018)

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University