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11 Geoffrey Chaucer 1340?-1400
Tractatus astrolabii
English manuscript on vellum, 26 leaves, England, ca. 1400 (Plimpton 254)
Perceiving in his ten year old son an interest in the natural and mathematical sciences, Geoffrey Chaucer composed for him in 1391 A treatise on the astrolabe, a work in which the Middle English poet describes the instrument used to determine latitude and time, and to measure altitudes, positions, and movements of heavenly bodies. Once owned by Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), English writer and diplomatist, this manuscript, rubicated throughout, is the work of two scribes using variant forms of English gothic book hand, and is one of the very few early manuscript copies that reproduces the complete text of the essay.
Gift of George A. Plimpton

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