Historic 15th century Fibonacci manuscript up for auction
March 25, 2011
A collection of revered mathematical works will soon be put to auction in New York, including significant pieces of the Liber Abaci or Book of Calculation by Fibonacci. Esteemed as one of the most brilliant mathematicians in Western history, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (Fibonacci) translated Arabic numerals, whilst explaining the superiority of these numerals and the importance of zero. Above all it was Fibonacci's work that has helped modern day mathematicians find breakthroughs in mathematical equations, whilst also defining sequences used for computer programming and the financial markets.
Fibonacci is of course well known for bringing the Fibonacci code to the West (first understood by Indian mathematicians in the 6th century). Each number in the code simply represents the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1 (eg. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 ... ).
The Liber Abaci manuscripts were produced in Italy and written in Latin, and first appeared in public in 1202CE. To date only twelve manuscripts, dating back to the 13th and 15th centuries, have surfaced in European libraries with the major part being housed in the Vatican.
The rare 15th century manuscripts up for auction include an in-depth discussion of a key section of the Liber Abaci known as Flos or "The Flower." The complete text deals with calculus, and geometrical and algebraic methods for solving quadratic equations. In around 1225CE Fibonacci was summoned to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, where he was successful in solving three problems (described in the Flos chapters of the Liber Abaci) at the request of His Holiness.
Included with the Liber Abaci is a second manuscript by the Christian Philosopher, Boethius, dating back a century earlier. Manuscripts like these are rarely offered to the public, and they are anticipated to sell for between US$120,000 and US$180,000. The auction will be held by Fine Books and Manuscripts in New York on June 22nd.
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