...one of the most important contributions to surveying in the seventeenth century
By RATHBORNE, Aaron , 1616

The Surveyor in Four Bookes.

Natural History, Science & Medicine
  • Author: RATHBORNE, Aaron
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed by W: Stansby for W. Burre
  • Publication date: 1616.
  • Physical description: Folio (270 by 190mm), four books in one volume, six preliminary leaves including two engraved portraits, title page, dedication and preface, 1-157pp, 152-175pp, 172-181pp, 186-228pp, numerous woodcut illustrations and diagrams throughout, later calf, spine in five compartments separated by raised bands, title in gilt.

    Collation: A-X6, blank X4-6 not present.
  • Dimensions: 270 by 190mm. (10.75 by 7.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 14789


First edition of the first comprehensive English textbook on land surveying by British mathematician and land surveyor Aaron Rathborne (b1571). The work is structured in four books: the first two books dealing geometry, and esecially in it’s application to the measurement of land; the third book deals with surveying instruments and their application. He demands that the surveyor use the best professional standards and goes into great detail about the correct use of the plane table, his preference for the ‘peractor’ (a type of azimuth theodolite) and circumferentor (a type of surveying compass), compared with the more complex altazimuth theodolite. He goes on to discuss his newdistance- measuring device or decimal chain, in which a perch is divided into 100 equal parts, callled seconds. The chain was a great advance on the traditional distance-measuring instruments such as the cords and the and wooden poles. The final book deals with legal and manorial issues.

Little is known of Rathborne’s early career, it has been suggested that received training from John Goodwyn of London. In 1605, he was surveying estates in Yorkshire, Cumberland, Durham, and Lincolnshire. He was living in London when he published the present work, i 1616, and two years afterwards he was granted a patent, along with Roger Bruges to make plans of London, as well as York, Bristol, Norwich, Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, and Windsor. Alas none of them were realised. In 1622, he was recorded as working in Yorkshire. Nothing is known of his later life or death.

Rare, we were only able to trace it coming up at auction twice in the past 40 years.

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