My repository of really old Actuarial books

Since I like technology, love insurance, and love love books, I’m starting a project to get all my antique, really old, and out-of copyright actuarial and insurance books scanned and posted online (I gave up collecting books some years ago. The affliction returned). I’m got a book scanner on watch on ebay, I’ve got bookshelves of old books already, and I just went and bought like another 20 antique books from various parts of the globe. Books that I buy are now going to be focused on actuarial data and tables from the olden days.
Scanner I expect to buy: Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600.
Books I just bought:

  • Institute Of Actuaries: A Short Collection Of Actuarial Tables
  • On the Rate of Mortality among Persons of Intemperate Habits. A rare original article from the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society of London, 1851.
    1. Contributions to Vital Statistics, especially designed to elucidate the Rate of Mortality, the Laws of Sickness, and the Influence of Trade and Locality on Health, derived from an extensive Collection of Original Data, supplied by Friendly Societies, and proving their too frequent Instability. A rare original article from the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society of London, 1845.
  • Contributions to the Study of Insurance, Fire and Life as a Science and an Art (this one is interesting, I think it’s written by a former pres of the IFOA and believe that what I bought was his personal copy.
  • A Sketch of the History of the Science of Life Contingencies.Mortality Tables (1882)
  • **[Report of Committee on Joint Investigation of Experience of American and Canadian Companies with Reference to Total and Permanen
  • Valuation Tables for Friendly Societies
  • Life Insurance Examination b
  • Continuous Investigation into the Mortality of Assured Lives
  • Single and Annual Assurance Premiums, for every value of Annuity on single or joint lives, or survivors, adapted to any table of
  • Distribution of Surplus [Actuarial Studies No.6 ]
  • Actuarial Theory; Notes for Students on the Subject-Matter R
  • Actuarial Statistics (two volumes): Statistics & Graduation and Construction of Mortality & Other Tables b
  • Some Recent Researches in the Theory of Statistics and Actuarial Scienc
  • Frequency Curves and Correlation
  • An Elementary Treatise On Actuarial Mathematics

And that’s just what I’m going to catch hell for ordering on the credit card today - doesn’t include the books I already own.

Anyone has any thoughts or comments, chime in. Or if you have any books that are actuarial in nature and out of copyright you’d like scanned, hmu.


Last time I did this, I had a book scanner that took like 15 seconds per page. that took forever - i spent weeks. So finally I did what I hate, and cut the bindings off some of the books and ran them through a page scanner. Both are unsavoury options. Scanners are better now,like 2 seconds to scan both pages of an open book, and they remove the scan of your hand holding the book flat, and they have technology that flattens the pages so the output doesn’t have the book curvature.


I got rid of everything I had when I down sized a few years ago, many back to the early 80’s

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All my actuarial books were disposed of as soon as I finished passing my exams. Was more sentimental about my university math textbooks so kept them until a few years ago.

I used to get rid of my textbooks. I don’t anymore. I like them.

But they’re not out of copyright so I won’t be scamning them in lol. One thing I have to do one of these days though is head into uwaterloo and see if I can find prof hardy, see if she’ll autograph my life con text.

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This sounds interesting. I’ve struggled to find very old P&C textbooks. Would love to read about how they used to price ocean marine and early days fire insurance.

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The 1800s p and c books with data that are available to buy online is a tsunami. I wouldn’t be able to keep up if I was doing p&c.

Check out biblio or Abe’s books, search on actuary and pre 1949 and you’ll see what I mean.

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Did you ever have Rob Brown or Frank Reynolds as a prof at Waterloo? Frank used to run night classes in Toronto in the mid-70’s to teach actuarial students how to pass the actuarial exams (as opposed to actually teaching the material).

No I didn’t. Back in those days I was in computer science. Didn’t get into actuarial until about 5 years ago when I restarted my undergrad.

When I moved in 2006, I tried to give away my 30-year collection of actuarial literature. No takers. :frowning:

I’m getting a ping every 5 minutes now that one of the couple dozen books I ordered yesterday are being shipped. I bought them from large aggregator sites that handle the purchase, then they farm the order out to bookstores around the world. UK seems to have a lot of old actuarial books for some reason, more even than the US.
I got one email from the UK from a bookstore where I’d ordered two books, telling me they wanted to charge me another 10 for shipping since the books were pretty heavy. Yeah, fair enough, I know in Canada the price of shipping by mail has gone up to the point of being obscene. My spouse went to mail a package I figured would cost, what, $10-$20? And the cheapest they could get was like $75.
Can’t wait til they start landing in the mailbox!

Yeah I got myself a book scanner a month ago, and I really need to get started scanning those old books I bought from you the last time you sold off your books…

What scanner get?

Maybe we work.out an arrangement where i scan them.for you so i can add them to my site.

CZUR – forget which model

Yeah, I looked at the czur’s closely as well. Those seem to compare equally with the Fujitsu. I’m waiting on an eBay auction today for a Fujitsu sv600.

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Just for information on copyright, because for some reason I love this subject. Laws differ by country. In the US, the Copyright Act is federal, so does not differ by state. In the US, for copyrighted works published 1978 and afterwards, the work enters public domain 70 years after the death of the author. The formula and conditions get more complicated with older works.

Many copyrighted works are shared illegally such as on YouTube. Some copyright owners protest and YouTube removes the work, while other owners may not care. There are all sorts of legally permissible uses of copyrighted work, and many interesting lawsuits in grey areas even up to the Supreme Court.

One of my previous reinsurance employers had a copyright claim that seemed pretty obvious.


I’ve done quite a bit of reading on this for Canada as well. I believe copyright expires 50 years after the author’s death. I search it when I can, but some of the stuff is orphaned and there’s no way to determine ownership. Orphaned books are a big problem if you want to be 100% sure.

So what I do is Google to make sure the author’s passed 50 years ago. If I can’t determine that, I mostly pick a cutoff date and don’t scan anything past that date. 1800’s is fine. 1930’s also probably fine. 40’s is starting to get edgy and past that I wont scan.

But in my experience nobody cares if it’s that old. If grandpa died 25 years ago, nobody cares about a book he wrote in 1945. I did manage to reach one copyright owner years ago, and no they didn’t care even a bit.

Related, I saw a book today. Written by de.moivre, and was one of the first actuarial books ever, from the 1700’s. But they wanted $1000 for it and no way am I getting permission for that lol. Plus Google’s already scanned it so it’s already online.

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I was bidding on a scanner, but the auction closed when I was on the treadmill. I bid 200, oldmanshakeshandatclouds someone bid 202 lol.
So I just went and bought a czur et16for 400. If it works, or maybe if it doesn’t, I can upgrade to a new or better machine later.

First two ‘new’ books just came in. The insurance guide and handbook (1922) . and The principles and practice of life insurance (1892).

Both are examples of why this stuff is so cool. The first book was the property of London Life’s actuarial department - I remember when companies used to have exam book libraries for their students. And the second one was signed and dated by W.H. Somerville 27/9/00. And I’m like, dude why would you sign your name and date a book in 2000 that’s this old…Wait, buddy signed it in 1900. Cool. And he was born september 1881, so he was like what, 18-19 when he signed it? Just starting exams probably.

I found two mentions online of this W.H. Somerville guy. One shows him as the secretary of a life insurance company in Waterloo: LINK

Going back that far, I’m guessing the company was Mutual Life - not sure if any other life companies were residing in Waterloo back then. Equitable Life wasn’t even founded until like 1923, not sure when Manu set up shop in Waterloo.

The other document shows him pimping war bonds in 1940 in Ottawa. Works – Somerville, W.H. – People – Digital Archive : Toronto Public Library

And some further digging, whomp there it is: LINK
Page 34, W.H. Somerville, Mutual Life, general manager.

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I am old enough to remember Dominion Life in Waterloo. It was established in the 1880’s I believe and was acquired by Manulife in the 1980’s.