Compendium of the Art of Arithmetic


Suma de la art de arismetica (Compendium of the art of arithmetic) is the first arithmetic printed on the Iberian Peninsula and possibly the second printed in Europe. Very little is known about the author, Francesc Santcliment, other than that he lived in the 15th−16th centuries. Where he was born and where he died are unknown.  As he indicates in his text and in the bibliography and reference works, he seems to have worked in the Catalan territories, in Barcelona and Perpignan. Some authors also place him in Zaragoza. The book is a manual of practical arithmetic, focused on commercial use, addressed with a clear educational intent to anyone needing to use numbers for business purposes. It is written in Catalan and uses a direct style, much as a teacher would talk to students. At the same time, the text reflects the scientific language then in use. The work fits into the context of the commercial activity of Catalonia within the broader context of Europe. It is similar to commercial arithmetics printed elsewhere in Europe for the same purpose. The work includes economic and trade information, such as customs data on transactions involving pepper, saffron, cinnamon, honey, sugar, silk, and sheep, and details on weights, measures, and coins. The book is on paper, in quarto size with 136 unnumbered leaves. Carefully printed, it is in gothic type of a single size. The numbers used to demonstrate arithmetic operations are Arabic. The lines used to describe these operations were traced in red ink after printing, as were the first letter of the text and some other symbols. The printer was Pere Posa, the first Catalan typographer, who worked in Barcelona between 1481 and 1506. This copy became part of the collections of the Biblioteca de Catalunya in 1919. The note in the registration book indicates that it was bought in Italy. It is an extremely rare piece, being the only known copy.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Pere Posa, Barcelona


Title in Original Language

Suma de la art de arismetica

Type of Item

Physical Description

272 pages ; 21 centimeters


  1. Joana Escobedo, “A Landmark Scientific Incunabula: The Summation of the Art of Arithmetic by Francesc Santcliment,” (in Catalan).

Last updated: January 13, 2015