Ring dial, made by Humphrey Cole

London, around AD 1580

A particularly large and fine example of this type of instrument

Ring dials are sundials in the form of a ring, with a hole in a movable band to enable the sun's rays to indicate the time on a scale on the inside. They are held in a vertical position with a suspension ring and then correctly orientated.

This is the only surviving ring dial made by the renowned Elizabethan maker Humphrey Cole (died 1591). It is an exceptionally fine example. Not only does it have the essential hour markings and calendrical scales necessary to set it properly, but it can also be used in different latitudes. It also provides useful tables such as the dates of the sun's entry into the zodiacal signs, perpetual calendars, a list of latitudes of cities, a scale for the age of the moon and some astrological information.

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More information


F.A.B. Ward, Catalogue of European scientif (London, The British Museum Press, 1981)

S. Ackermann (ed.), Humphrey Cole: mint, measureme (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)


Diameter: 74.000 mm
Width: 22.000 mm

Museum number

M&ME 1905,6-8.1


Gift of C.J. Wertheimer


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