In 1202 Leonardo of Pisa, later known as Fibonacci, wrote, in his book "liber abbaci", his explanation of a means of expressing numbers, and manipulating them, that gave us arithmetic as we know it today. My question is: how was that book distributed, since the printing press did not arrive in Europe for another two hundred years? How many copies were produced?

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    $\begingroup$ Before pintinp press, books were "reproduced" by amanuensis. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2016 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ For manuscripts, see Baldassarre Boncompagni, Della vita e delle opere di Leonardo Pisano (1852) and B.Boncompagni, Intorno ad alcune opere di Leonardo Pisano (1854). $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2016 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ There was only one method of distribution of books before printing: copying them by hand. This answers your question "how". On your other question: how many copies were distributed, before the printing press arrived, it is impossible to answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2016 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question, impossible to answer. I'd be interested to know too... :-( $\endgroup$
    – vonbrand
    Feb 2, 2016 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ @vonbrand - not impossible... The extant manuscripts are listed in the above books: unfortunately, they are in Italian. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2016 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


Some English Sources for Leonardo Piasno :

  • Laurence Sigler (editor), Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci (2002): unfortunately, the Introduction does not give details on the manuscripts. Only :

Liber abbaci, or the Book of Calculation, appeared first in 1202, and then again in a second version in 1228. [...] This English translation is prepared from Baldassarre Boncompagni's Latin edition of 1857.


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