- Museum number
This circular astronomical compendium is made of gilt and silvered brass with a lid and hinged midsection attached to a bottom plate by a degree arc.
The OUTSIDE of the LID is laid out as a NOCTURNAL with a volvelle rotating over a fixed disc and a hinged index arm rotating over both. The scales on the disc and the volvelle correspond to each other.
The disc is inscribed with a calendrical scale with the abbreviated names of the months in Latin (MARTY for March) and the corresponding numbers of days. The nocturnal can be set for the right time of the year with the help of a small pointer on the volvelle, marked 'A'. Two German inscriptions on the volvelle offer instruction about its use. The index consists of a hinged arm, marked in the centre 'STELA POLARIS DUBH' and with stars on the foldable part; its tip is broken off and there is no ‘B’ to match the ‘A’.
The outside ring of the volvelle is marked as an hour scale 3 to 12 to 9, with small pins on the outside. This hour scale is continued for latitudes ('POLVS H') 44, 47, 50 and 53 on the fixed disc and can be seen through two apertures in the volvelle.
The INSIDE of the lid contains a LUNAR VOLVELLE for converting solar time into lunar time and vice versa. Three concentric rings of scales are shown; starting with the outermost they are: 1) an hour scale twice I to XII; 2) the age of the moon 0 to 29½; 3) a second hour scale on the volvelle 3 to 12 to 9. The scales are labelled 'INDEX DIERVM AETATIS LVNAE' on a fourth, innermost ring. An aperture in the volvelle reveals the phases of the moon on the disc underneath. An aspectarium is inscribed in the centre of the volvelle.
HINGED BETWEEN the LID and the the BOX below is an EQUATORIAL DIAL consisting of a double hour ring and a foldable pin gnomon. The outer, movable ring bears an hour scale 1 to 24. The inner, fixed ring is marked twice 1 to 12. By turning the outer ring against the inner ring common hours can be converted into Italian or Babylonian hours.
The signature of the maker and the date are given on the reverse of the outer ring.
The dial can be set to the appropriate latitude with the help of a foldable DEGREE ARC, hinged at the side to the bottom section, which has a scale from 16 to 90 and is labelled 'ELEVATIO POLI' on the reverse.
On the INSIDE of the BOTTOM PLATE the eight main directions and the corresponding weather are inscribed in German and Latin as follows: 'NORD - SCHON - SEPTENTRIO, NORDOST - SCHON KALT, OST - SCHON - ORIENS, SVDOST HALBSCHON, SVD - GWILCK - MERIDIES, SVDWEST - REGEN, WEST - TRIEB - OCCIDENS, NORDWEST - SCHNESCHAVR'. In the centre, around an inset MAGNETIC COMPASS, is a degree scale for the magnetic variation, marked 'DECLINATIO MANGNET' 0 to 90, 0 to 90. The compass is marked 'SE' and 'ME' for North and South, with a deviation of 10°W of N.
The UNDERSIDE of this section has a circular list of 30 European cities with their latitudes, as follows: 'Vtinis 45, Verona 45, Venetiae 45, Tessalonica 40, Tubinga G 49, Turonia 47, Treveris 50, Tarentum 40, Tridentum 44, Taurinum 44, Toletum H 41, Salvedia Tu 51, Salisburg 46, Spira 50, Sebenicum 43, Praga 30, Monacha 48, Ingoldsta 48, Breslae 51, Antwerph 52, Augusta 48, Vilna Litu 54, Vurtember 52, Vienna Au 45, Vienna G 45, Vlma 48, Volaterae 43, Villitrum 41, Vrbinum 43'.
The outside of the box is decorated with foliate scrollwork.
- Production date
Diameter: 55 millimetres
Thickness: 15 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The only other instrument known to have been made by Melchior Reichle, a crucifix dial, is also in the British Museum collections (reg. no. 1874,0727.3; EPACT 1998 http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=94075).
The layout of the dial here is very similar to that of a universal equinoctial dial by Cornelius van den Eedt, also in the Museum (reg. no. 1893,0616.10; EPACT 1998 http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=47795).
- Not on display
Latest: 3 (Mar 2017)
4 (Feb 1996) White deposit underneath volvelle. Oxidation.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number