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Mathematical Treasure: The Merchant’s Companion

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

The Merchant’s Companion (1737) is typical of the comprehensive mathematics books of its time, promoting the use and applications of mathematics. Its title page boasts: “Practical Arithmetick, Both Vulgar and Decimal, Rendered more Clear, Short and Easy, Than Ever before: In which Most of the Rules of Arithmetick Are Altered to Advantage, and New Methods laid down, Whereby the Young Scholar May, with Ease, become Proficient in a Short Time.” Little is known of the author, John Saxton, other than that he was an eighteenth century British writing master.

Page 155 of the text provides costing problems on cloth and wine.

This material is obtained through the courtesy of the Peabody Library of Johns Hopkins University.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: The Merchant’s Companion," Convergence (July 2016)