Rare Mathematics-surveying book, Moore, Samuel. An Accurate System of Surveying. Litchfield, 1796.

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Moore, Samuel. An Accurate System of Surveying. Litchfield [CT], Printed by T. Collier, 1796. Octavo, pp. xiii, 132, several text woodcuts, 8 pages of tables.

This rare work is complete and in a contemporary calf with spine titles perished. The binding is tight and clean, the text is heavily toned. Original owner’s name (Nathaniel Manning) penned on paste down. In good condition.


This 1796 book has long been considered the first, totally American work on the practice of surveying. Its comparatively “late” publication date is somewhat surprising because of the obvious need for accurate surveying instruction, mainly because the development of colonial America was a pressing activity. It was a skill mastered by many Americans, not least of whom was George Washington.?Samuel Moore (1737?-1810) was born in colonial Connecticut and practiced surveying for over thirty years before writing An Accurate System of Surveying. He recounts his experience and desires for the book as follows: “Having pursued the business of practical surveying more than thirty years, long experience demonstrated the inaccuracy of the common methods of practice , and induced me to endeavor [sic] a correction thereof, and enlargement upon so important a subject. Many years close study produced what is now, in the following sheets, offered to the consideration of the candid reader.”?Most of the problems he addresses involve mathematics rather than field measurements, having been dissatisfied with relatively “crude,” but common practice of determining areas by plotting surveys on paper using triangulation.