"Our Tools of Learning" : George Arthur Plimpton's Gifts to Columbia University

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Rara Arithmetica: a Catalogue of the Arithmetics Written before the Year MDCI; with a Description of Those in the Library of George Arthvr Plimpton, of New York

Boston and New York: Ginn and Co., 1908

In reviewing Rare Arithmetica for the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (1910), Lambert L. Jackson wrote: “this is a work which no bibliographer of rare books will fail to consult. It will become an authoritative source for writers of mathematical history and the standard reference book on sixteenth century arithmetic for scholars in mathematics everywhere.” It still is. Regarding David Eugene Smith, Jackson wrote: “It would be wasteful of the reviewer’s space to speak of the author, because his special fitness is known to practically every student of the history of mathematics, and his scholarship stamps with authority all of his productions.” Shown here is Smith’s copy, No. 2, in the presentation binding designed by W. A. Dwiggins, reserved for special copies of the two-volume work.

Bequest of David Eugene Smith


“David Eugene Smith”

Typescript, ca. 1926

Plimpton Papers

This is Plimpton’s testimonial to David Eugene Smith, presumably delivered at the time of Smith’s retirement as Professor of Mathematics at Teachers College. Most notably, Plimpton wrote: “Professor Smith is now Emeritus-Professor at Columbia University, but I want to assure him, and you all, that he is not “emeritus” so far as the Plimpton Library is concerned, but he is the Librarian for all time.”

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 / rbml@libraries.cul.columia.edu