Astrolabe Catalogue

astrolabe, inventory number 53211 from Antwerp, 1560
thumbnail for astrolabe (front), inventory number 53211 from Antwerp, 1560
thumbnail for astrolabe (back), inventory number 53211 from Antwerp, 1560
thumbnail for astrolabe (rete front), inventory number 53211 from Antwerp, 1560
MakerGillis Coignet
Inventory no.53211
AcquisitionPresented by Lewis Evans in 1924

Astrolabes typically bear a stereographic projection of the heavens, both on the rete and on the underlying plate. However, in the sixteenth century makers increasingly constructed geographic astrolabes, instruments that included stereographic projections of the terrestrial globe. At times the geographic plate was just one of a number of plates, most of which would bear a projection of the heavens. In some cases, as here, the primary or only plate in the instrument was a geographic projection. This instrument, made by Gillis Coignet in 1560, has only a single plate, which bears an ornate geographic projection of the earth that extends from the north pole south to the Tropic of Capricorn.

Geographic astrolabes reveal much about the state of geographical knowledge available to the maker, as well as about his prejudices and predilections. In the picture, Europe though small is easily recognizable, as are North Africa and the Near East. Coignet's depiction of the New World reflects the information he would have had available in Antwerp at the time. The city had benefited enormously from the silver coming from the Spanish territories in the New World. Consequently Coignet, along with most educated residents of the city, would have been familiar with the Spanish holdings in Central and South America. Unsurprisingly, given the importance of Mexico, Brazil, and Peru for the Spanish economy and diplomacy, Coignet singles out for note these places in the New World. The northern reaches of Asia and North America, however, appear as largely undifferentiated masses, still joined by a land-mass above what would become known as the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile the southern Pacific region remains unexplored, and the unexplored southern seas are still inhabited by unusual sea creatures.

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Throne, Ring and Shackle

The throne is of the simple type made of brass attached with riveted base made of brass and has a simple, round cross-section ring made of brass and eye-bolt type shackle made of brass . More information


The mater and limb are of three pieces construction. An extremely broad limb. Scales on the limb: calendar scale; zodiacal signs scale; equal hours scale. More information


Contains a 'trigonus', a type of sundial described by Gemma Frisius, on top of a de Rojas style projection. The back contains 1 scales of the following types: Degree. The universal on the back contains 0 scales. More information

Rete, Nut & Bolt

The rete contains 8 stars. The zodiac on the rete is labelled: Aries , Tarus , Gemini , Cancer , Leo , Virgo , Libra , Scorpius , Sagittarius , Capricornus , Aquarius , Pisces .
The rete is attached using a nut & bolt. More information


There is one plate . More information

Rules & Alidades

Type Details
RuleSingle-ended, which is fixed and imovable. The rule is not original. This rule is to be used with the sundial on the back.
More information


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