A booke called the Treasure for traveilers, devided into five Bookes or partes, contaynyng very necessary matters, for all sortes of Traveilers, eyther by Sea or by Lande.

London: [by Thomas Dawson] for Thomas Woodcocke, dwelling in Paules Churchyarde, at the sygne of the blacke Beare, 1578.

First edition, extremely rare, of one of the great Elizabethan practical navigation and travel manuals written in English. “In 1578, Bourne’s Treasure for Travellers contained the first description in English of triangulation, the method of land surveying devised and described by Gemma Frisius nearly half a century earlier (1533), in which the position of terrestrial objects is fixed by cross-bearings from an accurately measured base-line” (Waters, English Navigational Books, pp. 246-7). “A knowledge of navigation and geography were obvious pre-requisites to empire in the minds of England’s imperialists of the 1570s, yet to William Bourne these were not enough, and he equipped the explorer and traveler with a textbook on the science of travel when in 1578 he published his comprehensive and detailed Treasure for travellers. Here for the first time in English letters, travel was viewed as a science” (Parker, Books to Build an Empire, pp. 92-3). “The Treasure for travellers was important for many reasons: because it contained the first popular explanation of surveying by triangulation, illustrated with an example of a triangulation by Bourne; because it was the first English book to describe the volumes, capacities and proportions of ship’s hulls, and the methods, based upon calculations of cubic content, of getting ships over bars and shoals; because it was the first to describe the sizes and weights of cordage, with rules for their computation; because it contained one of the first descriptions of the currents of the ocean, and explained in popular language the value of mathematics to the seaman … In the absence of a printed rutter of the Atlantic Bourne’s descriptions of the ocean currents were the only ones generally available in English” (Waters, The Art of Navigation, pp. 147-8). “The final chapter of the present work surmises that America is the part of Atlantis that did not sink, and that its ancient kings were sons of Neptune. Bourne declares that the Indians of America are descendants of Noah’s youngest son. America is mentioned from a more scientific viewpoint in the eight and ninth chapters of Book Two. Here Bourne gives the latitude and longitude for ‘certaine of the principallest places of America … not knowen unto the olde writers’: the River Platte, the City of Mexico, the port of Panama, the land of Labrador, et al., as well as for several islands in the West Indies” (H. P. Kraus, Cat. 168, no. 6). The work was dedicated to Sir William Winter, “Servaior of her highnesse marine causes”, who had been responsible for laying down in 1569 the scale of armament of the royal ships that were to defeat the Armada in 1588. Only one other complete copy has appeared in commerce in the past 25 years, and only three others in the quarter-century before that. All of these were in later bindings, and all had faults. This was not a book to be displayed in the libraries of great houses, but a practical manual to be used by seamen. Most copies did not survive, and those which did suffered through the rigours of use.

Provenance: The Boise Penrose copy (bookplate; Sotheby’s London, 7 June 1971, lot 34, $1920 – “a very good copy”); more recent ink ownership inscriptions on front pastedown and free endpaper.

Bourne (c.1535–1582), “the earliest unlearned English instructor and writer on mathematical practice known to us” (Taylor, Mathematical Practitioners, p. 176), was a town councillor in Gravesend, Kent, who had practical experience of naval matters and gunnery. His extensive knowledge of mathematics was not acquired at university, yet he was sufficiently well-thought of to be invited by Lord Burghley to assess Leonard Digges’s claims for the discoveries of the effects of perspective glasses, published after Digges’s death by his son Thomas in Pantometria (1571). “His self-appointed task was to bridge the very patent gap between the theoretical treatise and the actual shipmaster, pilot, shipwright or master-gunner with who he was in daily contact” (Taylor, Tudor Geography, p. 153).

By 1571, Bourne had prepared an important manuscript on navigational and military matters; this survives as Brit. Mus. Sloane 3651. “The first part was a treatise on gunnery and range-finding, based obviously on the first section of Tartaglia’s Quesiti et Inventioni (1546); the second part dealt with the measurements of heights and breaths by the ‘backside of the astrolabe’ and by the cross-staff, and with survey by triangulation almost exactly as set forth by Gemma Phrysius [in Apian’s Cosmographia, 1533], together with further instruction on maps based on Apian’s Cosmographia; the third part dealt with the measurement of solid bodies and here the author refers to ‘Mr Digs’ treatise on the same subject, called Tectonicon, noting that his own work includes matter not found in the earlier publication. This manuscript was dedicated and presented to Lord Burghley, who was sufficiently interested in it to have some speech with the author and question him especially on his practical rules for mensuration relevant to shipbuilding.

“The surveying instrument proposed by Bourne in the section on triangulation is an improvement on those of Gemma Phrysius and Tartaglia, and is less clumsy than the astrolabe with inset compass, held in a horizontal position, which it probably superseded. It is not an original invention, having already been described by Cuningham (also without claim for originality) in his Cosmographical Glasse (1559), and a similarity of phraseology suggests that Bourne had either used Cuningham or that their descriptions had had a common source. The essential feature was a circular brass plate graduated around the edge in degrees, and having the 32 points of the compass-rose radiating from the centre. An eccentrically inset compass-needle (like that on a dial or compass-clock) and an ‘athelidey’ (alidade) like that of an astrolabe, completed the instrument …

“The importance of Bourne’s Manuscript of 1571 lies in the fact that it gives an actual example of a triangulation carried out by means of his simply designed instrument. The scale of the original is 1/52,800, and the degree of accuracy shows that it was an actual piece of work and not a mere diagram. Bourne goes on to explain how to add topographical detail, such as rivers and hills, and again gives an actual example: a survey map of the Thames from Northfleet to the Nore, including the Medway up to Rochester. In this case the surveyor took a boat down mid-stream, having as his sole instrument a mariner’s compass. With the compass he took the direction of each reach of the river, and fixed his position at the end of the reach by taking the bearings of two objects already fixed by the triangulation of the area” (ibid, pp. 153-5).

“In 1578, Bourne issued his three remaining books, A Treasure for Travellers, Inventions & Devices, and The Art of Shootyng in Great Ordnance, the substance of which was in MS. before 1571.

“The first and third of these are simply taken, with some additional matter, from the three sections of the MS. of 1571; thus it was in the Treasure for Travellers that the account of triangulation, with a woodcut of the instruments and of the specimen map, first appeared in print … The fourth section of the Treasure deals with the origin of certain landforms – cliffs, islands, marshes, and so on – and Bourne expresses the view that off-shore islands originally formed part of the mainland from which they have been separated by erosion” (ibid., p. 158).

“Bourne distinguished three sorts of ocean currents: those that are now known as the North and South Atlantic drift currents; caused by storms; and current caused by the discharge of great rivers into the sea and by the melting ice and snow of the Arctic regions. From Bourne’s explanation it is apparent that he was one of the first Englishman to attribute the clockwise circulation of shipping in the North Atlantic to the currents. Nowadays it is attributed primarily to the wind system. But it Bourne’s day the wind, which was considered as an ‘exhalation of the Earth,’ was not associated with drift currents, although the general pattern of the wind system in the Atlantic has long become evident to the Portuguese and Spanish navigators, and was becoming known to the English ones. The controlling forces of the vertical movement of the tides were popularly considered to reside exclusively in the moon. It was therefore natural to associate the only recently experienced lateral movements of the waters of the ocean with the motions of the moon, and it is by these that Bourne explains, for example, the South Atlantic Drift current, of whose pattern he gives a remarkably accurate description” (Waters, The Art of Navigation, pp. 147-8).

Treasure for Traveilers describes in five sections, called books, a body of knowledge of interest fortraveillers. This term identifies workers who travel and settle abroad and later return, bringing with them great benefits to England [Preface]. Among other subjects, the book discusses: celestial navigation, surveying techniques, ship construction and navigation, and geography.

“The section on shipbuilding deals with conceptual aspects of ship design. Although it does not discuss the actual process of designing a ship, the treatise shows that during this period there was a good understanding of basic hydrostatics – why bodies floated in water – and how this knowledge could be applied to shipbuilding.

“The author describes that a body will sink in the water until it has displaced the same amount of water (in weight) as the weight of the body itself [f. 3r]. Based on this idea, which is none other than Archimedes' principle, the conceptual approach to establishing the weight of a ship is clear to the author:

‘Looke what quantitie of the Ship is buryed in the water, that is to say, from the edge of the water downwards: then if there were a vessell or great thing made of the proportion of the moulde of a Shyppe, as much as is buried in the water, if that were filled with that water that the ship were in, the water shoulde be of iust equall waight, that the Ship were of, with all her tackle and implements in her’ [f. 3v]

“Bourne continues by observing that whether the ship is floating in fresh or salt water has an effect on how deep it will sink. He is correct in his observation and, also, when he observes that the reason for this is the differences in weight – we would call it density – of the two types of water.
“Bourne's interest is not only theoretical and, consequently, he describes three methods by which the weight of a ship may be found. These methods are correct from a conceptual point of view. However, they would only be useful to know the displacement of an existing ship and not as a means of designing a ship with a certain displacement.

“Two of the methods are based on the same idea. The shipwright would measure the cross-sectional area of certain sections of the hull below the waterline for which the ship had to be taken out of the water. The next step would be to assess the distance in which this shape remains fairly constant and, consequently, by multiplying the cross-sectional area by this length, the volume of this portion of the hull could be found. The same approach could be followed for the rest of the hull by dividing it in as
many vertical planes as possible. Always treating the hull as a series of prisms for which the volume could be calculated relatively simply. By adding the volume of all the prisms the true volume of the submerged part of the hull could be found. The third method was a fully practical approach. The process started by making a scale model of the ship as accurately as possible in solid wood. Following this, the solid model would be wrapped by a sheet of malleable metal such as lead. Then, the lead shape could be removed from the solid model and could be used as a container to be filled with water.
Bourne argued, correctly, that the weight of this water could be used to calculate the weight of the full sized ship by applying the correct scaling factor.

“The importance of shape control in ship design is clear for Bourne:

‘[...] in the buildyng of Ships, the one of the pryncipal poyntes is this, the flowring and quarteryng of them [...]’ [f. 4r]

or in modern terms: one of the principal points on building a ship is how its bottom is shaped. (The ‘flowering’ refers to the floors, or the bottom area of the hull close to the keel. This could be related to the modern term called deadrise angle which describes the fullness or sharpness of the transversal sections of the hull. ‘Quartering’ refers to the quarters, or ends of the ship. Both aspects of a ship's hull-form will have an effect on the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic characteristics of the ship.

“Bourne is aware that not all hull forms are suitable for all circumstances, thus explains – in very general terms – that ships should be shaped according to their intended use. It is during these explanations that the author concedes that he is not ‘a ship carpenter, neither usual Sea man’ [f. 19r]. However, his lack of practical experience in the actual construction of ships does not decrease the importance of this treatise as a testimony of certain theoretical knowledge and practical procedures that were possible at the time. Bourne does not give the impression of describing new
knowledge or some obscure knowledge that was not known at the time. Hence, it would seem that Archimedes' principles which describes why ships float were well known at the time, and that they had not been lying dormant for two millennia – as stated by Nowacki – until it was rediscovered by Flemish/Dutch mechanicist and engineer Simon Stevin in the late 1500s” (Olaberria, pp. 66-68).

“That Bourne’s work was taken seriously by his contemporaries, we learn from the reference to his method of topographical survey side-by-side with that of Digges in Blagrave’s Familiar Staff (1590), in Blundeville’s Exercises, a compendium of information for ‘young gentleman’ published in 1594, and in Rathborne’s Surveyor (1616). Much more interesting is the apparent direct influence of the relevant section of a Treasure for Travellers on the instructions issued by William Borough on behalf of the Muscovy company, for the later voyages in search of the North-East Passage …

“Both William Borough and William Bourne deserve more detailed study and appreciation that they have hitherto received, from working for the advance of Navigation, Charting and Surveying they had tough material to deal with. As Bourne himself wrote:

‘I have known within this 20 yeres that them that wer auncient masters of shippes hath derided and mocked them that have occupied their Cardes and Plattes, and also the observation of the Altitude of the Pole, saying: that they care not for their sheepes skinnes, for hee could keepe a beter account upon a boord. And when they dyd take the Latitude they would call them starre shooters and sun shooters, and would ask if they had striken it.’

“The years following Bourne’s death, which took place near the closing date of the period of Dee’s work and influence, were years in which practical mathematics, especially in its relation to cosmography and kindred subjects, found many English exponents, and original treatises began to be multiplied. William Bourne afforded an example to his contemporaries of learning outside the lettered world of the Universities, and he and his like were given their due by Sir Philip Sydney’s friend Gabriel Harvey, who wrote in 1593:

‘He that remembereth Humphrey Cole a Mathematicall Mechanician, Matthew Baker, a shipwright, John Shute an architect, Robert Norman a Navigator, William Bourne, a gunner, John Hester, a Chymist or any like cunning and subtile empirique, is a proud man, if he contemn expert artisans, or ant sensible industrious practitioners, howsoever unlectured in Schooles or unlettered in books’” (ibid., pp. 160-1).

This copy of Treasure for Travellers is from the celebrated library of Boise Penrose (1902-76). Named for his uncle, the US senator and powerful Republican ‘boss’ of Pennsylvania, Boier Penrose was born in Philadelphia, though his education was received in New England, culminating at Harvard from which he graduated in 1925. Two years later he made his first trip to England, returning almost every year thereafter. “Never engaging in business, Mr Penrose devoted his life to scholarly pursuits, becoming a collector of books, manuscripts, and maps of a geographical nature relating to Tudor and Stuart times. While at Harvard he had taken a course in bibliography under Dr. George Parker Winship, and he had received further stimulus toward collecting by the inheritance of rare volumes formerly owned by his Drexel grandfather.

“It was mainly in the 1930s that he gathered together his important library. Unlike most other collectors, his income did not suffer materially during the Great Depression, being maintained as a result of conservative investment policies dating back to his father’s belief in government bonds. He was thus able to capitalise on the times, purchasing from English dealers, notably Lionel Robinson and Quaritch, and also at Sotheby’s auctions … In 1971, he dispersed a portion of his collection at two sales held at Sotheby’s. In the introduction to the first of their two catalogues – The Celebrated Library of Boies Penrose Esq., FSA, FRGS – the auctioneers stated:

‘Of the many distinguished collections of books, both private and institutional, which have appeared in these rooms in recent years, there have been few which need less introduction than this. The richness of the collection and the fastidiousness with which it has been assembled were both made possible by the quality of the material which became available during the period of the great Britwell, Leconfield, and Lothian dispersals. The importance of the theme – much the same as it’s collectors equally celebrated Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance – need hardly be stressed. Dealing with a comparatively short period of time during which Europeans reached almost every corner of the globe, the collection demonstrates in particular the impact of all this activity on Tudor and early Stuart England’” (Wainwright, pp. 391-2).

Only three other copies have appeared at auction in the last 40 years: Du Pont 1991 (“small hole to title and dedication leaf with loss to one letter of the latter, side-notes and errata leaf cropped, 4 headlines shaved, small repair to H4 affecting 3 words”); Sotheby’s 1978 (Honeyman Sale, Lot 451, “neat restorations to title and last three leaves with portions in skilful pen facsimile, a few other small marginal repairs”); and Sotheby’s 1971 (“title defective without loss of text but with loss from the woodcut on verso, fore-margin of two following leaves defective, with tears extending into the text but without loss, errata leaf cut into and a little ragged at fore-edge, one catchword and signature cropped, small rust-hole in 5A2 just catching two letters”). None of these copies was in a contemporary binding. The present copy made $1920 in the Boise Penrose sale in 1971, and was described by Sotheby’s as a “VERY GOOD COPY”.

Adams & Waters; ESTC S104686; Luborsky & Ingram, Guide to English illustrated books, 1536-1603, 3432; STC 3432. Olaberria, Ship design-knowledge in early modern Europe. Ph.D. thesis, University of Southampton, 2018 (https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/419406/1/

LIBRARY_COPY_Final_amended_thesis_JP_Olaberria_25621076.pdf). Wainwright, ‘Boies Penrose, 1902-1976,’ The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 100 (1976), pp. 390-394.



Small 4to (186 x 138mm), ff. [12], 32, [1], 25, [1], 22, [2], 21, [3], 5-16, [4] ???? including separate title-page for three books and errata leaf, black letter, woodcut diagrams illustrations, initials, and woodcut coat-of-arms on verso of title to Sir William Winter, the dedicatee (lacking blanks ***4 and 3F4, skilful restoration to lower margin of title, and to some margins towards the end, two or three letters of the errata leaf in excellent pen facsimile, occasional slight worming, mostly marginal). Nineteenth-century red morocco by Rivière & Son, spine richly gilt in compartments between raised bands, sides ruled in gilt with a French fillet, gilt inner dentelles, plain endpapers, gilt edges (rebacked preserving original spine). A very good, complete, well-margined copy of an extremely rare and important book.

Item #5814

Price: $38,500.00

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