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BABBAGE, Charles.


A Comparative View of the various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives. London: Printed for J. Mawman…and sold by J. Booth… 1826.

Price £ GBP 1800.00

8vo, pp. xxxi, 170, (27), 1 leaf (imprint), 1 folding letterpress table. Original(?) mauve cloth, partly faded to brown, unlettered. Tear at top and bottom of upper joint, a little spotting in signature I, otherwise a nice, clean copy. Signature of Joseph March, 1832, on front endpaper.

FIRST EDITION of Babbage’s first substantial published work, the first thorough treatise on actuarial theory, complete with folding table of mortality statistics, generally considered the first reliable life table. Babbage was a founder member of the statistical section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1832. “Babbage was offered the position of director and actuary of the fledgeling Protector Life Assurance Company with the prospect of an annual income of £2500, a substantial improvement on his father's grudging allowance. He spent several months studying the life assurance business and computed a new set of life tables. The venture was abandoned the day before its scheduled launch on 1 July 1824. Babbage used his actuarial knowledge as the basis for a small popular work, A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives (1826). The book was not intended for the professional actuary but for the general populace unwary of the pitfalls of conveniently misrepresented benefits. It was, at least in part, a work of consumer protection with Babbage self-cast as champion of the exposé” (ODNB). Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace, 36.

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