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Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic, 1525

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), "Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic, 1525," Convergence (October 2018)