This is quite an obscure question but one that I have been curious over for some time. My great-grandfather was a shipwright at the turn of the 20th century (1890s-1925) and family lore says that because of his good work he was presented with a book about Euclid's theorems.

My dad and I have never been able to find a copy and so we wondered if anyone knew of such a book.

All my great-grandfather apparently said about it was that "Yeah it is very good but it was all wrong". I am not too sure what he meant by this, maybe referring to the modern mathematics of the day on manifolds?


2 Answers 2


Could the "book about Euclid's Theorems" be Euclid's Elements? That was the standard school textbook on geometry until the 1900's.

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    $\begingroup$ It is said that Euclid's Elements is second only to the Bible in number of different editions produced. So even if it was (some edition of) Euclid's Elements, that doesn't narrow it down a lot. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Rory Daulton Thank you for the reply. I had thought of this but I doubt he would have been able to tell it was "wrong" (whatever he meant by that), from the Elements. In addition I was hoping for a popular edition around this period, if anyone knew that a given copy would be the "off the shelf" one. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ Few if any schools were teaching Euclidean geometry directly from the elements. $\endgroup$
    – user2255
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @FranzLemmermeyer: From the introduction by Amit Hagar to Euclid and His Modern Rivals by Lewis Carroll (2009, Barnes & Noble) pg. xxviii: "Geometry emerged as an indispensable part of the standard education of the English gentleman in the eighteenth century; by the Victorian period it was also becoming an important part of the education of artisans, children at Board Schools, colonial subjects and, to a rather lesser degree, women. ... The standard textbook for this purpose was none other than Euclid's The Elements." The Victorian period extended into the 20th century. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:30

Maybe he meant Foundations of Geometry by David Hilbert? This is about Euclidean Geometry, but it gives arguments against the Euclidean axiomation of it, which is what he could have meant by 'it was all wrong'. It was published in 1899.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the reply, I actually like the sound of this, especially since you say it explores the "wrong" nature of Euclidean geometry. In addition the date fits too! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 16:40

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