Livre d’arithmetique, manuscript

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Full Description: Augustine livre arithmetique

Q: What is arithmetic?
A: Arithmetic is nothing other than the correct & faithful science of numbers
•A Female student’s arithmetic primer: learning to calculate commercial business transactions

Augustine Garcin. Livre d’arithmetique, manuscript
[Aix-en-Provence?, early 19th century?].
Folio: (34 x 22 cm). [5] blank leaves, 88 leaves (text), [4] leaves (table), 16 blank leaves—with text and exercises written on rectos only. Contemporary red morocco with gilt frames on the boards, flat gilt spine, and former owner / student’s name “Augustine” on the front cover and “Garcin” on the back cover, all edges gilt. A few scuffs and ink spots to an otherwise lovely binding, internally the volume is excellent. Written on Dutch paper with the D&C Blauw watermark, commonly found in France, and elsewhere, during the eighteenth and nineteenth century; all text rectos with black ink borders, and one leaf (7) with ornamental borders.

A young girl’s large folio arithmetic textbook, with the text written in a neat at times ornamental hand, occasionally using more than one color of ink, in a formal layout that is free from doodles, idle pen-trails, or unrelated content as is often common in such textbooks. The focus here is on mathematical exercises for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, but set in the context of weights & measures and business operations. Matching the names on the cover of the binding, the signature “Augustine G. D’Aix” appears on the verso of the last page of the table of contents. The luxurious binding, formal production, and the large format suggests that Augustine was a from a well-educated and well-off family.

As an object, the folio format and the morocco binding are unusual for this type of textbook, and it is further noteworthy that a young woman's education in the early 19th century would include exercises in commercial business as seen here.

Augustine learns standards of weights & measures, and business practices:
Understanding of basic math, whole numbers and fractions make up most of the exercises, but many of them rely on units of weights & measures that predate the metric system (officially adapted in France in 1799) for the context of the lessons presented, thus providing Augustine with a second topic of learning. In addition to the practicality of learning arithmetic simultaneous to weights & measures, Augustine also learned a number of fundamental business operations, such as how to calculate three-way profit sharing based on unequal initial investment, how to calculate interest accruals, how to convert costs for individual units based on bulk purchases and projecting the desired profit margin based on initial investment. Thus, Augustine’s arithmetic lesson was integrated into a broader and rather sophisticated introduction to commercial business and merchant transactions.