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Inventory no. 39935 - Epact entry

Epact number: 81899

Horizontal Dial

Signed by Ulrich Schniep
Dated 1568; probably Munich
Gilt and silvered brass; 75 x 63 x 11 mm

Main text

While some instruments of this type cover all available surfaces with scales and devices, the outer faces of this sundial are given over to decoration (see also Epact 35603 for a similar sundial). The cover has an engraving of a goddess on a sea serpent, while the underside uses the more familiar decorative motif of strapwork and foliage.

The sundial, signed 'VS' by the Munich-based craftsman Ulrich Schniep, is of the horizontal string gnomon type and is accompanied by a compass and a separate wind rose.

The leather-covered pasteboard case survives.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 39,935

Detailed text

The instrument consists of a hinged lid with a clasp and a main box.

The outer face of the lid depicts a goddess on a sea serpent with a ship in the background of the oval engraving. The image is surrounded by foliage engraving.

The inside face of the cover carries a wind rose in which the cardinal directions are named in Latin ('SEPTENT:', 'ORTVS', 'AVSTER' and 'OCCASVS') and the eight principal directions also named in German. Around the ring of directions is a scale of hours 1 to 12, 1 to 12 divided to quarters and then a ring indicating in German the weather traditionally associated with each of the eight classical winds. The corners of the face each carry a wind-blowing putto and the centre of the wind rose has a rotating index.

The main box carries a horizontal string-gnomon dial with a decorated sprung gnomon support housing a plummet. The silvered dial plate has a scale of hours from 4 to 12 to 8, with the half hours marked. The plate carries the signature 'VS' and the date '*1568*', as well as the latitude for which it was intended, 'ELEVATCIO POLI 48 GR:'. The inset compass is 30 mm in diameter with a cross of direction marked 'S', 'OR', 'M' and 'OC'; it is also marked for variation.

The sides of the instrument are decorated and the underside has strapwork and foliage engraving.

The instrument has a leather-covered pasteboard case.

Provenance: Billmeir Collection (57-84/196).

Stephen Johnston

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