Are you smarter than a 18th century 5th grader? Math exercises within Gentleman’s Magazines…

July 13, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

As we continue to explore the diversity of content found on the pages of 18th and 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines, our attention was drawn to the abundance of Mathematical challenges found within many issues – particularly those from the 1700’s. Rather than opining on the difficulty level of the quests as opposed to what might be expected of the average reader of a common (blog) post or publication of the 21st century, especially since we have no idea as to the intended target audience. Instead, let’s just enjoy the challenge as if we were living just prior to the American War for Independence.

The challenge: On a somewhat regular basis the publisher would provide a set of Mathematical exercises and invite their subscribers to submit solutions. These responses would then be printed (along with the names of those who submitted them) within a future magazine – typically 1-3 months later. The set shown below is from an issue dated May, 1768. Go ahead and give the problems a try. As an act of 21st century kindness, next Thursday I’ll post the solutions which were submitted in 1768. Are you bold? Go ahead and reply with your solutions prior to next Thursday and allow the collectible world to observe your mathematical genius – or at least your ability to rival the math-prowess of a 17th century 5th grader – or mathematics professor of the period. Enjoy.

Victor Hugo – poetry in early 19th century Gentleman’s Magazines…

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In our opinion, one of the early titles we come across, The Gentleman’s Magazine, is grossly underappreciated. This London “Reader’s Digest-sized” publication which spanned the early 18th through mid-19th centuries and was known for great reporting from throughout the world, was also pregnant with book reviews, poetry, mathematical challenges, birth and death notices, and an abundance of plates depicting everything from maps to sketches of rare animals, historical cathedrals, and notable men and women of the era. While we’ve written about this title in previous posts (view posts), our attention this time around is in regards to poetry – with a question.

Whereas nearly every issue contains poetry of the period, the poets are often unknown to me, and therefore, rarely catch my eye. However, during the process of scanning The Gentleman’s magazine for July, 1833 looking for content related to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, one name in the heading of a poem caught my eye: Victor Hugo. After reading the poem – and being moved, I became curious as to whether this was an early (1st???) printing – and therefore more valuable as a collectible, or if he had penned it many years prior. Unfortunately a cursory on-line investigation came up empty in regards to a validation that the poem was even written by him, let alone its original date of publication. Of course this begs the question: Can anyone attribute this to him and/or confirm its first printing? If anyone is in the know, please share your knowledge with the collectible community. Thanks in advance. AND as for the poem itself: