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polyhedral dial / compass-dial / astronomical table

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1890,1216.1

  • Description

    This unusual brass polyhedral dial is in the form of a hollow pillar of square section, with dials and hour scales engraved on two vertical faces, and an allegorical figure and a table of planets on the other two. The pillar stands on a slightly larger, square base, and contains further equipment in its interior.
    The 'SW' face has a folding triangular GNOMON indicating common hours from 10 to 12 to 8, and with a decorative sun effigy and strapwork inscribed 'HOR{AE} EQVAL{IS}'. This gnomon has two other tips which serve as gnomons for the lower dial on that face, inscribed 'QVANTITAS DIEI' from 8 to 16 and 'QVANTITAS NOCTI' from 16 to 8, and unequal hours indicated XII and VI to VIIII. The tropics and equinoctial lines are also inscribed 'TROPI:<CUS> CAPRICO{RNI}', 'TROPICVS CANCRI' and 'AEQVINOCTIALIS'.
    The 'SE' face of the dial probably had another triangular gnomon, now missing, to indicate common hours from 4 to 12, then 1 and 2, inscribed in strapwork 'HORA{E} EQVALES' with a sun effigy. Below this dial, similar to the previous side, is another dial inscribed 'QVANTITAS DIEI' from 8 to 15, and 'QVANTITAS NOCTI' from 16 to 8. Unequal hours are engraved XII and then III to VI, and the tropics and equinoctial lines are also engraved 'TROP:<ICVS> CAPRIC:<ORNI>', 'TROPICVS CANCRI' and 'AEQVATOR DIEI'.
    The 'NE' face of the dial is inscribed with a table of ruling planets, 'TABVLA GVBERNANTIVM PLANETARVM DIEI IN HORIS INAEQVALIBUS', with headings for the unequal hours and the corresponding ruling planet for each day of the week.
    The 'NW' face of the dial is engraved with a figure of Justice, represented as a woman holding a six-point star and inscribed 'IVSTICIA' in the lower border, with strapwork on the upper part. On the other three sides of the border are inscribed the signature and date.
    On the top of the column is a hinged LID with engraved dome and finial, and within it is a COMPASS.
    Inside the instrument is an ingenious levelling device consisting of a slotted brass plumb-bob with lead weight below the slot, and at its top a silvered disc engraved with a rosette. The upper edge of the slot rests in a V- shaped knife-edge attached to a vertical bar, this latter assembly fitting tightly within the case. Levelling is obtained by centralising the disc within the open top.

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  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1567
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 105 millimetres
    • Length: 28 millimetres (base)
    • Width: 28 millimetres (base)
    • Length: 25 millimetres (dial pillar)
    • Width: 25 millimetres (dial pillar, each way)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        'NW' face, border
      • Inscription Language

        Latin
      • Inscription Content

        HOC OPVS VECIT VDVLRICVS SCHNIEP DE MONACO [star] ANNO DOMINI MDLXVII ELEVA POLI 48
      • Inscription Translation

        This object was made by Udulricus Schniep of Monaco in the year 1567, latitude 48 degrees
      • Inscription Comment

        on 3 sides of border (not bottom); signature of maker, date and place (with its latitude) of production
  • Curator's comments

    The allegorical figure of Justice engraved on one face of this dial is a very unusual representation.
    [I. Meliconi, EPACT 1998, http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=39908]

  • Bibliography

    • Ward 1981 063 bibliographic details
    • EPACT 1998 http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=39908 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1890

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1890,1216.1

Polyhedral dial; gilt metal; tall dial of square section; hour scales on vertical SE and SW faces; upper dial on SW face is declining SW dial with appropriate folding triangular polar gnomon; gnomon missing from similar upper SE dial; tips of styles serve as pin gnomon for two lower dials; planetary table on NE face; engraved figure of Ivsticia, curvilinear strapwork pattern and inscription on NW face; top of block covered by hinged flap with engraved dome and finial: hinges over to reveal compass; levelling device of brass plumb-bob, silvered disc and lead weight within body.

Polyhedral dial; gilt metal; tall dial of square section; hour scales on vertical SE and SW faces; upper dial on SW face is declining SW dial with appropriate folding triangular polar gnomon; gnomon missing from similar upper SE dial; tips of styles serve as pin gnomon for two lower dials; planetary table on NE face; engraved figure of Ivsticia, curvilinear strapwork pattern and inscription on NW face; top of block covered by hinged flap with engraved dome and finial: hinges over to reveal compass; levelling device of brass plumb-bob, silvered disc and lead weight within body.

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Object reference number: MCC3211

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