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Mathematical Treasure: Jacob Koebel's Book on Gauging

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Jacob Köbel (d. 1533) was an active rechenmeister (reckoning master) who wrote several books on mathematics and its applications. His “well ordered account of gauging,” Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch (1515), provided a set of complete instructions for the task of using mathematics to determine the volumes of wine casks and barrels.

Title page of Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Numerous illustrations accompanied the textual instructions:

First image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Second image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Third image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Fourth image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Fifth image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

Sixth image of barrel measurement from Eyn new geordnet vysirbuch by Jacob Köbel, 1515

For a more information about rood measurement using human feet, see the Convergence article, The Right and Lawful Rood.

For images from Köbel's geometry book, see the Convergence article, Mathematical Treasures – Jacob Köbel's Geometry.

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.

Erwin Tomash (1921-2012) was a pioneering computer scientist, helping launch the U.S. computer industry from the 1940s onward. During the 1970s he became interested in the history of computer science, and founded the Charles Babbage Society, and its research arm, the Charles Babbage Institute. The Institute, an archive and research center, is housed at the University of Minnesota. Its Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing began with Tomash's 2009 donation to the Institute of much of his own collection of rare books from the history of mathematics and computing. (Source: Jeffrey R. Yost, Computer Industry Pioneer: Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2013, 4-7.)

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Jacob Koebel's Book on Gauging," Convergence (August 2018)

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