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Inventory no. 49296 - Epact entry

Epact number: 61719

Astrolabe

Signed by Georg Hartmann
Dated 1542; Nuremberg
Paper, board, wood; 133 mm in diameter

Main text

Early paper instruments are rare, but Georg Hartmann seems to have made a great many and a number of examples of his work have survived. Though they appear to have been printed from the same plate, the dates differ as he added additional numerals with the passing of the years. In this case, the original plate seems to have read MDXXXI, for 1531, but additional characters, which intrude into the nearby scale, have changed this to MDXXXXII.

A particularly interesting feature of this instrument is that an early owner has written his name in ink on the blank rim as 'leonardi a bottalis a{s}tensis'. This is understood to have been Leonardo Botalli of Asti, a medical author and physician to Charles IX and Henri III of France.



Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 49,296



Detailed text

Wooden mater with applied paper scales. The limb has an outer scale of hours 0 to 12 with Roman numerals, and an inner degree scale 90 to 0 to 90 to 0 to 90, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. Brass shackle and suspension ring.

Rete for 27 stars, east-west bar counterchanged 6 times. Ecliptic band with the names of the signs, each with a 30-degree scale, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 10.

Three pasteboard plates for latitudes 39 and 42°; 45 and 48°; 51 and 54°, the latitudes being printed on the tabs in Arabic numerals and on the faces of the plates in Roman. There are azimuths for every 10 degrees, numbered by 10; altitudes for every 2 degrees, numbered by 10, tropics and equator, and lined for unequal hours, numbered 1 to 12. Lines dividing the houses of heaven beneath the horizon are numbered 1 to 7 in Roman numerals.

The back has an outermost degree scale 90 to 0 to 90 to 0 to 90, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5. The final subdivision to single degrees also serves for a zodiacal scale with the names of the signs, each with a 30-degree scale, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered to 10 with Roman numerals. Concentric calendar scale, with the names of the months in Latin, each with a scale of days, divided to 5, subdivided to 1, numbered by 5 as appropriate. The first point of Aries is at 10|1/2| March. The upper half of the central space has an unequal hour diagram in two quadrants, hour lines numbered 1 to 12, the central circle formed by the lines for 6 occupied by the imperial double-headed eagle. The lower half has a double shadow-square, supported by cherubs, and enclosing arms of Nuremberg, with scales 0 to 12 to 0 to 12 to 0, divided to 3, subdivided to 1, numbered by 3, marked 'VMBRA VERSA' / 'VMBRA RECTA' / 'VMBRA RECTA' / 'VMBRA VERSA'. Signed beneath the shadow-square: 'GEORCIVS HARTMAN{N} NOREMBERGE FACIEBAT ANNO M D XXXXII'.

Brass pin and alidade.

See R. T, Gunther, The Astrolabes of the World (2 vols, Oxford, 1932), vol. 2, pp. 438-9.

Jim Bennett

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