London: William Pickering, 1847. 4to. (230 x 190mm). xxix, (1blank) 268 pp. Blue publishers cloth rebacked, spine and front boards in gilt yellow endpapers may be new? a few marginal repairs see D, F4, 12, DD3, HH4. its looks very much like a washed copy with new endpapers. Item #16034
First and only edition of Byrne’s work on Euclidean geometry, in which colors (red, yellow, blue and black) are substituted for the usual letters to designate the angles and lines of geometric figures. Written and designed to simplify Euclid’s propositions, this remarkable example of Victorian printing is described by Rauri McLean as “one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the whole century” (Victorian Book Design, p. 70).
The printing proved to be extremely difficult, requiring exact registration; only one thousand copies were originally published. After its exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, Sparling remarked that “the application of color printing for a didactic purpose was relatively uncommon . . . Color wood engraving proved a difficult and expensive technique; by 1851 it was increasingly being supplanted by chromolithography” (The Great Exhibition, 137).