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COSTARD, George (1710–1782)

The history of astronomy , with its application to geography, history, and chronology; occasionally exemplified by the globes

London: printed by James Lister, in Little-Boswell-Court; and sold by J. Newbery, at the Bible and Sun, in St. Paul’s Church Yard, 1767
4to: a–b4 B–2Q4 2R2 (2R2 + 1), 163 leaves, pp. xvi 308 [2]. Errata on last leaf, verso blank; slip cancels on diagrams on pp. 222 and 223. Woodcut diagrams in the text.
1 plate, with engraved diagrams printed on both sides (at p. 218).
Condition: 275 x 225mm, untrimmed.
Binding: Original grey boards with buff spine. Worn and soiled.
Provenance: Errata corrected in ink; pencil annotations on pp. 161 and 165 and on rear pastedown. Malcolm McTear with signature dated 1931 from Randall Davies (inscription on endleaf); Royal Astronomical Society (no marks of provenance, sale at Christie's South Kensington 8 April 2009, lot 39).
First edition.
Bibliography: ESTC T148097.

An unusually planned work in which the historical sections are interspersed with problems and propositions from which students could learn geometry, astronomical calculation and navigation. Judging by the number of surviving copies, the book must have been produced in a large edition, but it was never reprinted. Costard's knowledge of Hebrew, Arabic, other oriental languages, Latin and Greek gave him ‘unparalleled access to the astronomical literature of classical and early modern eras’. He concluded that the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians were mere observers, the Greeks being the founders of astronomical science by the application of geometry. (Anita McConnell in ODNB.)
Laid in is a photograph of an observatory, stamped by the photographer, Richard F. Riding, 17, Lawson Street, Southport, Lancs, on verso.
Keywords:     astronomy