Title page from 'Cocker's arithmetick', 1738.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Title page to the 49th edition of the most popular arithmetic primer of the period, allegedly by Edward Cocker (1631-1675), published in London in 1738 by John Hawkins. People used primers such as this one to teach themselves basic arithmetic including multiplication. The book went through 112 editions until the end of the eighteenth century, and the expression 'according to Cocker' originated from the book's somewhat ill-deserved reputation for accuracy. The book was later exposed as a forgery perpetrated by his editor and publisher, John Hawkins.