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Inventory no. 63463 - Epact entry

Epact number: 46465

Diptych Dial

Signed by Johann Gebhart
Dated 1561; Nuremberg
Ivory and brass; 55x 89 x 13 mm

Main text

This dial by the Nuremberg maker Johann Gebhart can tell the time in the different systems of common, Italian and Babylonian hours.

The lower leaf of the dial has a hole drilled through it from side to side: the reason for this is unknown, but it is very likely a recent modification.

See also Epact 46461.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 63,463

Detailed text

The outer face of the upper leaf has a pin gnomon dial (pin missing) with common hours marked in red from 5 to 12 to 7 and a sun effigy in the centre. The spandrel spaces are decorated with a geometrical motif and there is a table with eighteen towns and their latitudes.

The inner face of the upper leaf has a pin gnomon dial with Italian hours numbered in red from 14 to 24 and Babylonian hours numbered in green from 1 to 10, decorated with stars and geometrical motifs. Below is a string gnomon dial for common hours marked in red from 6 to 12 to 6, and at the centre the date '|star| AN NO |star| 15 |star| 61'. Below it is a pin gnomon dial with common hours marked in red from 5 to 12 to 7 and a circular motif in the spandrels. At the bottom is the signature '|star| IOHANN |star| GEBHART |star| |star| NORENBERGE |star| FACIEBAT |star|'.

The lower leaf has a compass (the glass is slivered) marked 'OST', 'S', 'WEST'. The string gnomon dial has common hours marked in red from 4 to 12 to 8 with a green flower between 4 and 8. In the corners are the inscriptions 'OCCASVS', 'SEPTE NTRIO', 'ORTVS'. Below is an horizontal pin gnomon dial for Italian hours marked in red from 10 to 23 and Babylonian hours marked in green from 1 to 15 with at the bottom the inscription '|star| HORE |star| |star| AB·HORTV · [hole] ·OCCASV |star|`. On the right side is a compartment for the brass arm (the arm itself is missing). On the lower leaf, by the hinge, the mark '3' is punched five times. On the bottom edge of the lower leaf is a compartment for stowing the pin, and the leaf itself is perforated from side to side. On the outer side of the lower leaf are the maker's mark and initials.

See P. Gouk, The Ivory Sundials of Nuremberg 1500-1700 (Cambridge, 1988).

Ilaria Meliconi

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