- Museum number
An oval astronomical compendium. Comprising from the top:
a) wind rose
b) table of latitudes of 25 towns
c) equinoctial sundial
d) compartment to hold a compass (missing)
e) shallow compartment
f) underside of nocturnal
a) The wind rose is engraved on the outer domed surface, where the gilding has rubbed away through use. The 32 winds are named on ribbons, the pattern being the A-2 type, which is first noticed on a chart engraved by Ryther of 1592; it appears again on a compass dial by Whitwell of c. 1600, on a compendium by Whitwell of 1606, and on three compendia by Allen of c. 1610. At the centre of the rose is a small hole (diameter 0.8 mm) that is most likely to have been to insert a wind vane.
b) Inside the top plate is a table of five columns and five rows listing the latitudes of 25 towns in degrees and minutes. This table is titled in a central circle: 'THE names of tounes and cityes in Europe'. The values of latitudes do not match exactly those found on other compendia described in this book. It seems that the maker rounded the values for minutes of arc, generally to tens, with 15 in four cases, but 56 in one. The gold plating is perfect.
c) The equinoctial dial is the same as those made by Whitwell and Allen. The gnomon is set by a quadrant divided from 0 to 90° in 2° intervals, labelled every 10°. The plummet is missing. The chapter ring on the upper (summer) side is divided in half hours, I-XII, twice. The under (winter) side is divided in half hours alternately shaded (unlike the upper side), VI-VI. The signature is engraved on this side. The act of lifting the top plate automatically raises the equinoctial dial to the vertical, by means of a lug protruding from the central part of the hinge.
d) An oval compartment, 9 mm deep, has a plain non-gilded surface, with a bronze strip round the inside to grip a compass unit, now missing.
e) An oval compartment, 3 mm deep, with a plain non-gilded surface, is also empty.
f) The gilded underside of the nocturnal shows the four attachment grips on the sighting volvelle. The surrounding surface is engraved with a scoop decoration.
g) Much of the surface gilding of the nocturnal has worn away. The outermost circle is engraved with the days of the months in 2-day intervals, labelled in tens (or 28, 31). There follow the names of the months: 'Ianuari, Februari, March, Aprill, Maye, Iune, Iulie, August, September, October, Nouembe, Decembe. There follow two volvelles, the outer with a 24-hour circle, marked out as twice 12, the hours divided in halves, alternately shaded. The edge is cut with a 'saw' tooth at each hour, with a longer index at one 12 o'clock position. The inner volvelle is cut with a slit from the centre to the edge for viewing the Pole Star and the Lesser Bear. At the edge in line with the slit is an index for pointing to the time on the previous volvelle. At either end, the oval surface is engraved with a foliate decoration.
h) The rim is inscribed with an acanthus motif. The extension holding the suspension ring is quite small. Closure of the top and bottom plates is by snap catches.
- Production date
Length: 61 millimetres
Thickness: 23 millimetres
Width: 52 millimetres
- Curator's comments
No other astronomical compendium by Robert Grinkin senior is known to survive. Grinkin, a member of the Blacksmiths' Company who died in 1626, is otherwise only known as a watch-maker and at least six examples of his work are known to survive, one of them in the British Museum collections (MME 1891,6-23.1). The instrument is made in the tradition of astronomical compendia by contemporary makers such as Humfrey Cole, James Kynvyn, Elias Allen, and Charles Whitwell, examples of which are in the British Museum (MME 1888,12-1.293, 1866,2-21.1, 1863,9-29.2, 1926,10-16.8).
The earliest known use of this form of nocturnal is on the compendium dated 1590 by Humfrey Cole (Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London (31-183 A).
Robert Grinkin senior, a Member of the Blacksmiths' Company, died in 1626, and some six watches of his are known. He was succeeded as a watchmaker by his son of the same name. Grinkin senior is known to have taken as apprentices Edmund Bull, c. 1598, free 1607, and John Willow, c. 1608, free 1617 (Loomes, B. (1981) 'The Early Clockmakers of Great Britain', N.A.G. Press, London, p. 269). Assuming he was 25 when he took his first apprentice, and assum¬ing this was Bull, then Grinkin's date of birth could be about 1573, and if so he could have been 53 when he died. His Will is extant (1626 87 Hele. PROB 11/149/87), and is dated 26 May 1626: he bequeathed his tools and instruments to his son Robert.
The engraved letters and numerals on this compendium continue the form that was practised by Ryther, Whitwell, and Allen. Although competent, Grinkin's hand is not equally well controlled. Some small points of difference can be seen in the bottom curves of 3 and 5, which are full and not foreshortened. His k has a loop at the top right. One is making the assumption that the engraving actually is by Grinkin; it does not resemble that of any maker known at present.
- Not on display
Latest: 2 (Jul 2015)
3 (Jan 2001)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Sotheby's sale 27 November 1972, lot 68, sold to 'V. Pearson' for 720.00.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number