Leybourn's rare pamphlet on surveying
By WALLINBY, Oliver [LEYBOURN, William] , 1650

Planometria or the Whole Art of Surveying of Land: Shewing the Composition, and Use of All the Most Necessary Instruments thereunto Belonging.

Natural History, Science & Medicine
  • Author: WALLINBY, Oliver [LEYBOURN, William]
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed for Nathaniel Brooks, at the Angel in Cornhill
  • Publication date: 1650.
  • Physical description: Octavo (140 by 90mm), four preliminary pages including title page and note to the reader, 1-182pp, some irregular pagination, woodcut diagrams and illustrations including 3 full-page, woodcut diagram laid down on C1 as instructed, occasional light browning, ink ownership inscription to title, manuscript notations to front and back free endpapers, library stamp to upper pastedown, contemporary sheep, rubbed and scuffed.

    Collation: A4, B-N8, blank N4-N8 not present.
  • Dimensions: 144 by 92mm. (5.75 by 3.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 14793


Leybourn’s study of surveying was highly influential in advancing the practice during the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth. Leybourn began his career as a bookseller and printer, specialising in technical books of scientific and mathematical treatises. In 1650, he turned his attention to writing, when he published a small pamphlet on surveying, the Planometria, the present work, under the pen name Oliver Wallinby, an anagram of his name. This small tract proved so popular that he was obliged to enlarge it, and in 1653 he published The Compleat Surveyor. The work would go through a further four edition in the seventeenth century.

The present work begins with a discussion of the various surveying instruments available, such as plane table, the theodolite, and the circumferentor. Leybourn then goes onto discuss the use of logarithms and trigonometry in the calculation of area, and ends with the measuring of solids, such as timber and masonry.

Due to the publication of the Compleat Surveyor shortly after, the Planometria is a rare work. We are only able to trace two examples appearing at auction since the Second World War.

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