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Inventory no. 54946 - Epact entry

Epact number: 11413

Horizontal Dial

Later 16th century; German
Gilt brass and silver; 54 x 54 x 14 mm

Main text

Although unsigned by its maker, this horizontal dial does carry a name, presumably that of its original owner, 'IOAN BAPTISTA NAVMAN'. The name appears in a scroll around a crested coat of arms and is in turn surrounded by four emblematic images whose exact significance has not been determined.

Breaking with the usual pattern of such instruments, the sundial is placed on a different face from the compass.

Stylistically, the instrument belongs to the German world and its origins are reinforced by German inscriptions around the sides.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 54,946

Detailed text

The instrument is in the form of square-section box with a lid. The lid is hinged in such a way that, when opened, it lies on the same surface as the rest of the instrument.

The outer face of the cover leaf is decorated with a central crested coat of arms surrounded by the name 'IOAN BAPTISTA NAVMAN' in a scroll. In each of the four corners is engraved an emblematic or mythological image.

The inside face of the lid carries a horizontal dial with the hours running from 4 to 12 to 8, and with the hours from 5 to 12 to 7 divided to |1/2| and |1/4|. The silver folding gnomon is said to be a replacement and sits above an engraving figure of the crescent moon.

The main box contains a compass of 29 mm diameter whose glass is held in place by a ropework ring-spring. The cardinal points are labelled 'SE', 'OR', 'ME' and 'OC'. Around the compass is circular scale of equal parts 1 to 12, divided to 1, |1/2|, |1/4| and eighths. The scale and compass can be rotated together. The corners of the face are stipple-engraved.

The underside of the instrument is blank but the sides carry the inscriptions: 'NICHTER KEIT IST EIN LERIN ALER GVENTEN KVNST' and 'DIE. VER . GVNGERVNG DERMAS . STAB . VND . AVF STEIGVNG . SCHREG . AB . ZV . NEMEN'.

Provenance: Michel Collection, Billmeir Collection (57-84/54).

Stephen Johnston

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