History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Bennett, J. and Johnston, S., The Geometry of War, 1500-1750 (Oxford, 1996)

5. Although contemporary with the gunner's gauging rod (catalogue no. 4), this compendium with string-gnomon sundial conjures up a world far removed from the scene of battle. Its plethora of tables and scales and its ingenious book-bound form would likely have appealed to a wealthy patron, enthused by its many operations and finely finished appearance. Yet it also carries on its longer bevelled edges iron, lead and stone scales as would be found on a gunner's gauge. Entered in Latin as ferrum, plumbum and lapis these scales are not, however, all they seem. In the short length available to them, they might be expected to provide only the first portion of the scales found on a longer instrument, thus serving only for small shot. However, Habermel has divided the scales differently, either graduating them in unusual units of weight or, more probably, shrinking the standard scales so that he can offer the same weight range in a constricted space. The penalty for this miniaturization is that the measured diameters would have to be reduced in the same proportion. Although this could be done with a pair of proportional dividers, the process is at best a clumsy one, suited more for demonstration than practice.

Dimensions: 106 x 60 x 12 mm

Billmeir Collection

Inventory no. 44,392

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