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Ferenc Menyői Tolvaj (c. 1649–1710) published his first work in Debrecen in 1674, which he called ‘The Mastery of Arithmetic’. From the first edition it was taught in the arithmetic classes of the Debrecen Reformed College. Several further editions were published in the 18th century, for example in Bratislava (1727) and in Levoča (1729).

In his foreword, Tolvaj indicates that his book is intended primarily for students who can read Hungarian and for people working in commerce. It is relatively limited in content, as it deals only with the four basic arithmetic operations and does not mention fractions, but it can still be used as a coursebook for elementary education. Its language is not particularly revolutionary either, since it uses Latin equivalents of established Hungarian mathematical terms. However, his work can be entertaining for younger students, as he presents the rules of arithmetic in verse. One of his 18th-century critics, György Maróthi (1715–1744), a professor in Debrecen, also found that Menyői’s book is lacking more complex calculations, adding that he thought the ’whole work was very silly [...] and boring’, noting that Menyői himself did not seem to understand arithmetic. The present copy was once owned by Ferenc Kenesei, as attested by his ownership record: Sum Kenesei Francisci

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RMK I 345b

Menyői Tolvaj Ferenc

Az arithmetikának, avagy az számlálásnak öt speciesinek rövid magyar regulákban foglaltatott mestersége, taliter disponete Franc. Tolv. Menyői, Gyöngyösienen. sch. rectore, az arythmeticat tanuló magyarok kedvekért iratattot és bővebben kibocsátattot

Lőtsén : nyomtatt. Brewer Samuel által, MDCXCIII [1693]

Source/author of illustration:
ELTE University Library and Archives