Oliver Byrne, Elements of Euclid

19 July 2021

Euclid. The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid, in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are used instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners. By Oliver Byrne. London: Charles Whittingham for William Pickering, 1847.

In this 1847 edition of Euclid’s Elements, Oliver Byrne attempts to teach Euclid’s proofs with minimal text and labels, instead using pictures and color. The use of color is striking with angles, lines, or polygons assigned a primary color. One of the first multicolor printed books, each color was printed from separate plates that had to be positioned so that the geometric angles and text matched exactly. Expensive and challenging to print, only 1,000 copies were originally produced.

Our edition is bound in the original publisher’s drab cloth, with edges that are untrimmed.

Diagram from Oliver Byrne's Elements of Euclid