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Inventory no. 70279 - Epact entry

Epact number: 99005

Diptych Dial

Signed by Hans Tucher
Dated 1588; Nuremberg
Ivory and brass; 90 x 11 x 13 mm

Main text

This dial is of fine manufacture, but nonetheless includes many 'mistakes' such as misplaced letters or words.

This may mean that ivory's value was such that even imperfect dials were not discarded. It might also indicate the large production of these instruments, since an imperfect example could still be put on the market.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 70,279

Detailed text

The outer part of the upper leaf has a wind rose with 16 directions and four winds named, a compass viewing hole and brass index arm. On the outer ring is the inscription 'HIC MARINVS FAVONIVS [sic, misplaced] COMPASSVS SEMITAM TERRA MASRIQVE [sic, S misplaced] OSTENDIT |star|' ('this maritime compass shows the way on land as well as at sea').

The inner part of the upper leaf has a pin gnomon dial for the length of the day numbered in red from 8 to 16 and the declination of the sun indicated by the symbols of the zodiacal signs. It is enclosed in the inscription 'DIE SPITZ ZEIGT DES TAGS AB VND ZVNEMEN VND DIE ZWOLFF ZEICHEN |star| |star| |star| |star| |star| ' ('the tip shows the increase and decrease of the day and of the twelve signs'), on the top 'die löchlein 54 51 48 45 42 39 sein die polus heh der land und stett das schnürlein thu in das löchlein des lands polus grad' ('the slotlets ... are the latitudes of the countries and townships; place the string into the slotlet of the country's latitude') and on the bottom 'ILLA CVSPIS INDICAT INCREM ENTVM ET DECREM ENTVM DIEI ET DVOD ECIM SIGNA' ('this tip shown the increase and decrease of the day and of the twelve signs'). On the bottom of the leaf, another inscription reads 'IMPONE FILVM FORAMI NI QVOD LOCI TVI POLVM INDICAT ET HORA HABEBITVR IN CIRCVLO QVI EODEM NVMERO POLARI INSCRIBITVR · M · D · L · X X X ·VIII ·' ('place the string into the slot which represents the latitude of your location, and the hour is found in the circle which is inscribed with the same latitude number').

The inner part of the lower leaf has a compass (ring missing) marked 'S', 'OESTE', 'M' and 'OESTE' [upside down], and a string gnomon dial for the above mentioned latitudes, with common hours numbered from 5 to 12 to 7. On the border of the leaf are the hours for latitude 54° numbered from 4 to 12 to 8. At the bottom is indicated 'ELEVATIO POLI AVFF ·54 · 51 · 48 · 45 · 42 · 39 · GRAD · ' and 'HANS TVCHER' with his mark, in red.

The outer part of the lower leaf has a pierced lunar volvelle with the phases named in Latin. Around the volvelle is the inscription 'IN ORBICVLO AEQUIPARAT SE HORA NOCVRNA [sic] CVM PROXIMO NVMERO |star| |star| |star| |star| |star| ' ('in the small circle the night hour comes on a level with the nearest number') and on the top of the leaf 'COMPASSVS PROPE FERRVM NON RECTE ASSIGNARE POTEST |star| |star|' ('the compass cannot point properly near iron'). The four bun feet have a circular decoration around them.

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

Ilaria Meliconi

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