Dear Peter & June,
When I discovered your website, where you declare that you "desire
to provide the best, time-tested educational materials available", I
knew I had found the people I should be talking to regarding my current
project. Your offer does indeed include several notable 19th
century schoolbooks, amongst which Ray's Arithmetic. These seem to have
been part for quite a while of a recommended set of schoolbooks,
alongside the McGuffey's Readers and several other "old fashioned" materials.
Although your offer doesn't include any of Charles Davies' books, I
thought nevertheless - since you've been publishing such materials
for over 20 years now - that you might be more knowledgeable than
myself about this fellow, and might even provide me some insightful
Why, would you ask? Well, just follow me, while I lead through my
most recent undertaking.
My story goes like this. A couple of months ago, I was searching
Google Books for antique mathematics books, when I literally stumbled upon
Charles Davies's works ( http://tinyurl.com/3bk3rk ). I've lost
count of how many current and ancient mathematics books I've read over the
last 20 years. Some of them were really good at making you feel
brighter once you had finished reading them, but only a few were great at
truly popularizing elementary mathematical techniques. I consider I was
lucky to learn them at school, but contrary to Andrew Perry's recent
statement (*), I've never believed they've been made obsolete by today's
technology. All I have to do is look around me to know thousands
of people could immensely benefit from the knowledge offered by these
Now, I must confess I had never heard about Charles Davies before.
It was with much delight I discovered he had already described in 1859
how I still do feel today towards mathematics instruction in his
preamble to "Arithmetic or, An Analysis of the Science of Numbers. With
Especial Reference to Mental Training and Development": "It is the object of
this book to train and develop the mind by means of the science of
numbers. Numbers are the instruments here employed to strengthen the memory,
to cultivate the faculty of abstraction and to give force and vigor to
the reasoning powers." This is the way these inherited volumes invite
us indeed to "a Wondrous World of Exploration and Knowledge - of
Curiosity and Intuition - of Development of Individual Skills", says Anthony
Aliberty, my first provider of original Charles Davies books on
It was then obvious to me I had to do something to give the world a
chance to discover Charles Davies's writings anew. According to my
readings so far, it would seem what mattered most to Charles Davies
was to always shed new light on a few basic tenets, upon which he
expanded his whole work, writing his books over and over again. He had a
deep understanding of education matters, which most certainly helped him
to come up with a few striking concepts, which could suit toddlers and
engineers alike. True to his "Art and Business of Teaching
Geometry" (Amy Ackerberg-Hastings) (**), I've thus decided to create my own
company, "Insanely Great Maths Publishing", and my aim as such is
to be the marketer of Charles Davies's Reprints.
I haven't decided yet which one of Charles Davies book will be the
first to hit the market next summer, but any piece of information you
might provide on ancient materials publishing or on this gentleman and
his works would be highly appreciated.
Jean-Marie Moes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(*)"Nineteenth century algebra textbooks are surprising both in
their similarities to today's textbooks and in their fascinating
differences. Some excerpts of interest to today's reader will be presented, with
special attention paid to clever mathematical techniques made
obsolete by today's technology. The evolution of algebra pedagogy over that
period (as reflected in textbooks) will be analyzed. Authors to be
considered include John Bonnycastle, Charles Davies, E.E. Milne,
Thomas Simpson, Samuel Webber and G.A. Wentworth."
(Andrew Perry, Springfield College - Evolution of Nineteenth
Century American Elementary Algebra Textbooks - Abstracts 2006, CSHPM
Annual Meeting, York University, May 28-30)
(**) "Chapter Five - The Two Circles Will Touch Each Other
Internally: Charles Davies at the Art and Business of Teaching Geometry"
On May 12th, 2007 at 06:52 pm, peter watt wrote:
Dear Jean-Marie Moes:
Thank you for your very informative email. We did not know of
Charles Davies until you introduced us to him.
We do not actually publish any of the books you see offered on the
McGuffey's Readers World website. * We purchase them from other
publishers and resell them. We do so because we believe these "old-
timey" programs are the best available.
In the interest of furthering the information we make available to
our McGuffeys' Readers World viewers (Currently running at a rate of
about 11,000 per year) we would like to ask permission to add your email
to our "Comments From Viewers" section. Please advise if you would allow us to do so. Who knows, someone
might respond to you with more information about Mr. Davies or other
interesting teaching materials. We would be sure to forward any
such information to you.
Peter Watt for McGuffey's Readers World
* We do, however, publish books by Samuel Blumenfeld on teaching
phonics reading. Please see our other website: www.alpha-phonics.com
Jean-Marie Moes Responds:
Dear Peter Watt,
Many thanks for your reply. Your websites are very informative too,
they help me shape my understanding of 19th century education, and I would
be really honored to receive feedback from your viewers. I can't however
find the link to the "Comments From Viewers" section: could you please let
me know how I can reach it from your homepage?
May I add another request? You'll find a preliminary draft of my sales pitch underneath this
message. Since you grant your viewers the right to "copy / print anything on
this site", would you allow me to include part of your "Ray's Arithmetic
Series" web page (http://www.mcguffeyreaders.com/ arithmetic.htm) in
an upcoming version of my marketing material? Your comments on the
current version will be welcome too.
The deluge of facts and figures we're faced with everyday is just
mind boggling. Whether it is to help their children do their homework,
understand the news, or read their bank statement, people are often
required to "give more force and vigor to their reasoning powers"
without necessarily knowing how they can achieve this goal. When requested
as such to "cultivate their faculty of abstraction", they wish they
could remember where their schoolbooks have gone.
Back in 1859, Charles Davies offered to solve these problems with a
unique method. He had indeed discovered that the major skill people needed
to develop, was a true understanding of the meaning of the numbers they
were faced with in their everyday life. Deeply rooted in the lessons he
had learned as a mathematics professor, he went on writing a series of
books that would ultimately allow children and grownups alike to "train and
develop their mind" and "strengthen their memory."
When I discovered Charles Davies' method, I knew I had to market it
if I was serious about helping people solve their number literacy (mind
development / memory strengthening) issues. Charles Davies' method
is a no-nonsense, step-by-step approach of numbers, that will gradually
allow you to develop the right arithmetic mindset. It will teach you
strategies and techniques that will enable you to master and rightfully apply
arithmetics to the needs and wants of your everyday life.
Shed a new light on the facts and figures you cross and meet everyday.
What message do they convey? Why should we focus on units instead of numbers?
How could this newfound point of view possibly transform your life,
make you gain a deeper understanding of the world that surrounds you, by
simply making you join the ranks of the truly mathematics literate people?
Embark with me on the discovery of "Arithmetic or, An Analysis of the
Science of Numbers - With Especial Reference to Mental Training and
Development"! It is a Charles Davies classic, if not his most
important work, where he declares that "it is the object of this (method) to
train and develop the mind by means of the science of numbers. Numbers are
the instruments here employed to strengthen the memory, to cultivate the
faculty of abstraction and to give force and vigor to the reasoning
It is so great to find out that we can train our children and grandchildren the early Chrisitan values and Godly principles that are GONE from Public Education today. Sadly, bringing these principles back to US education seems
to be impossible...other than prayer. I have no doubt that God can return our country to it's old Bible-based values if only we give Him the power to re-enter our educational systems.
Thank you and God Bless your efforts,
Sharon Verner - October 2006 Top of Page
Dear McGuffey's Readers World:
I very much wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you offer on your internet site. Especially I want to thank you for providing so many useful articles about the books and their authors. I believe on every article you also offer leads to further sites and information I can
find if I want to investigate further on my own.
Thanks again and keep up the great work.
(Mrs.) Sherre P. Scribner,
Carmichael, California - October 2006 - Top of Page
Dear Mr. Watt: (Publisher)
Thank you for selling such fine products! Last year, while
employed as a second grade teacher, I used the Alpha-Phonics and the
McGuffey's Readers to help a struggling young student.
The student began the year with a reading level that was
well below the first grade. He did not know enough words or phonics
skills to develop any kind of reading fluency. After testing him I knew that
he would need daily, remedial instruction with the use of
During the school year the student worked his way
through the Alpha-Phonics and three of the McGuffey's Readers (beginning with
the Eclectic Primer and finishing with the Second Eclectic Reader). Over
the nine-month period this child learned to read with fluency and
enjoyment! By the last month of the school year, he was reading at a beginning 3rd
This child now feels comfortable with both prose and poetry, and he eagerly visits
the library to check out books on a variety of subjects. With further practice
I know he is destined to become a >mature, competent reader. He has "unlocked the
door" to a lifetime of learning and discovery!
Mr. Michael Baba - Elementary School Teacher & Reading Specialist - July 2006 - Top of Page