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Doing Sums

30 November 1694
Source: 
NEHA Special collections nr 354

An ambitious student in the Netherlands  started a new arithmetic exercise book on 30 November 1694. On the front page Hendrick Swaen drew childlike sketches of swans around his name. His sums are meticulously noted down.

Hendrick worked according to the instructions of Willem Bartjens, published in The New Arithmetic that appeared in 1607. 'Doing sums according to Bartjens' is still apocryphal in Holland. After addition and subtraction, division and multiplication came numerical problems. In February 1695 the exercise book was complete and Hendricks self esteem was raised to the square. On the last page of the exercise book Hendrick signed in an adult fashion as 'Hendricus'.