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Inventory no. 54545 - Former Display Label

A modern fake

In recent years a large number of badly made Islamic astrolabes of Persian type have appeared on the market in Europe and the U.S.A. The decorative engraving on many of these astrolabes is of reasonable quality, but, as there are gross errors in their design, they are entirely unsatisfactory from a scientific point of view. Some of these instruments are signed with the names of well-known astrolabists, or with names composed of elements taken at random from their names; some also bear dates from the first half of the 18th century when most of the astrolabes produced in Persia were of high quality. There is some evidence that these modern fakes are produced by metal-workers in Isfahân and other Persian cities at the present time.

On the left is an astrolabe which appears to belong to this group of modern fakes. Clearly inspired by an instrument of the Safavid period, such as that shown above or those in the adjacent vertical bay, it nevertheless is of much cruder execution and includes several scientific errors. The gazeteer in the umm, the diagrams and astrological tables on the back, and the scales on the alidade are poorly engraved and not always intelligible. The five plates are not engraved with the usual stereographic projections, but bear curious diagrams, for the most part of unexplained origin, some of which purport to shown planetary positions. The {ain}ankabût is particularly badly made; the signs of the zodiac on the ecliptic circle begin at the meridian instead of at the intersection of the ecliptic and equatorial circles.

This astrolabe bears neither signature nor date.

Formerly in the Michel Collection.

[57-84/20]
Billmeir Collection

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