1790 · Marshfield, [Massachusetts]
Ciphering books were prepared as part of the basic mathematical training of relatively well-off American students, usually boys. Most, like this one, contain examples of the Numeration, Addition, Subtraction, Compound Multiplication, Reduction, Compound Reduction, Rule of Three, Indirect Proportion, Vulgar Fractions, Compound Proportions, The Double Rule of Three, Avoirdupois Weight, Troy Weight Long and Land Measure, etc.
In addition to providing mathematical basics, boys venturing into trades or businesses needed advanced or specialized training in mathematics. In this case, it would appear that Asa may have been preparing for future work in commerce as his ciphering book contains additional tasks titled: The Pence Table, Addition of Money, Wine-Measure, Cloth-Measure, Tare Weight, Compound Interest, "Rules of Practice [for] most sorts of Goods or Merchantdize," Brokage, Rebate, etc.
Online genealogical records show that Asa became a wealthy farmer and the owner of a coastal vessel. He married and had large family. Asa died in 1870 at the age of 97.
18th-century American ciphering books are scarce as the overwhelming majority of extant examples date from the early 1800s into the mid-1850s.
For more information about ciphering books, see Kilpatricki's Rewriting the History of School Mathematics . . . The Central Role of Cyphering Books, Anderies's "Learning Mathematics in North America" at the University of Pennsylvania's Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica, and Doer's master's thesis: Cipher Books in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina: Chapel Hill, 2006. (Inventory #: 009527)