Astrolabe Catalogue

astrolabe, inventory number 41427 from Oxford, 1925
MakerCharles Frewen Jenkin
Inventory no.41427
AcquisitionPresented by C. F. Jenkin in 1925

‘The Oxford Astrolabe’, designed by the Oxford professor of engineering science C. F. Jenkin (1865-1940), was inspired by the Museum’s collection when it opened to the public in May 1925. Six months later this newest astrolabe entered the collection, and was also for sale to visitors – 10/6 (ten shillings and sixpence, 52½ pence) including the instruction booklet written by Jenkin.

Manufactured for him privately by the London instrument-making firm of W. Watson & Sons, they subsequently took over the distribution, adding their name as the maker (see inventory no. 58805 [ID 210]) and advertising it on a larger scale. It was available in versions for several latitudes, this one being for 51° 30' (London, but suitable for Oxford too).

Its unconventional shape and its unabashed use of modern materials (aluminium and plastic) indicate that it was not attempting to be a historical replica but a practical working instrument meant chiefly for educational purposes. The innovative idea of a transparent rete, made possible by the materials used, led to a spin-off in the form of the astrolabe projection slide (inventory no. 21423 [ID 209]). The Lewis Evans collection of astrolabes – the foundation of the Museum’s collection – thus inspired the first of a renewed tradition of modern didactic astrolabes, several examples of which are now in the collection (for instance, inventory no. 40670 [ID 264]) or are used by the Museum’s teaching staff.

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Throne, Ring and Shackle

The throne is of the simple type made of paper attached with integrated base made of aluminium and has a simple, round cross-section ring made of steel and other type shackle made of steel . More information


The mater and limb are of one-piece construction. The limb is made of paper pasted to the aluminium mater. Scales on the limb: equal hours scale; degree scale. More information


The back contains 0 scales. More information

Rete, Nut & Bolt

The rete contains 27 stars.

The rete contains 3 scales of the following types: Right ascension; Ecliptic; Calendar.
The rete is attached using a nut & bolt. More information


There is one plate for latitude 51°0' . More information

Rules & Alidades

Type Details
AlidadeSingle-ended. The rule is not original. One sight is missing, the other has a single notch.
More information


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