The Invention of the Pie Chart

I’m staying with my uncle outside NYC for a few days after the RWA conference. He used to be a printer so he’s explaining the mysterious workings of flatbed presses to me and letting me use his pretty impressive library (the heroine of my WIP is the widow of a provincial printer/newspaper publisher). Look at this, from Phillip Meggs’s A History of Graphic Design:

“[Playfair] introduced the first ‘divided circle’ diagram, called a pie chart today, in his 1805 English translation of a French book, The Statistical Account of the United States of America. Playfair included a diagram of a circle cut into wedge-shaped slices representing the area of each state and territory. Readers could see at a glance how vast the newly acquired Western territories were in comparison with states such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This engraving included a legend stating, ‘This newly invented method is intended to show the proportions between the divisions in a striking manner.’”

The first pie chart! Awesome.

pie chart made of wedges of different kinds of cake

In other news, my aunt is watching the Murder, She Wrote marathon. I’ve never watched much of the show before, and I’m really enjoying it! The mysteries are really well-constructed, the characters are engaging, and overall the show feels very generous-spirited. I do love a good cozy mystery.

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