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Inventory no. 55574 - Epact entry

Epact number: 86857

Polyhedral Dial

Signed by Hans Tucher
Dated 1596; Nuremberg
Ivory and gilt brass; 82 x 58 x 54 mm

Main text

Hans Tucher (or Ducher) generally worked in ivory and, like many of the Nuremberg sundial makers, usually made diptych dials. This ivory polyhedral dial is an unusual product from his workshop.

The faces of the rectangular parallelepiped carry no fewer than five sundials of different types, and a lunar volvelle (now incomplete) for finding solar time when the light of the moon creates the shadow on a dial.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 55,574

Detailed text

The six faces of the polyhedral dial are stamped and engraved as follows.

1. A horizontal dial with hour lines for '42', '48' and '54' degrees, with a circular hole for an inset compass, containing a pin support and north line (with fleur-de-lis) offset for magnetic variation.. Only the lines for 48 degrees and numbered 4 to 12 to 8. The support for the string gnomon, the magnetic needle and the glazed compass cover are missing. A horizontal pin-gnomon dial for Italian hours.

2. A vertical direct west pin-gnomon dial for common and Italian hours, stamped 'OCCIDENS'.

3. A vertical direct east pin-gnomon dial for common and Italian hours, stamped 'ORIENS'

4. A vertical pin-gnomon dial for length of day and the sun's position in the zodiac. The lines are marked from 8 to 16 and have zodiacal symbols. Stamped: 'ILLA CVSPIS INCREMENTVM ET DECREMENTVM DIEI ET DVODECIM SIGNA'.

5. A lunar volvelle with two concentric scales 1 to 29 (age of the moon) and 1 to 12 twice (hours), but missing the volvelle plate with hour divisions that should rotate above these.

6. Signed 'H D 1596', stamped with Tucher's mark - a serpent - and with the advice 'COMPASSVS PROPE FERRVM NON RECTE ASSIGNARE POTEST.' (near iron the compass cannot point properly).

Jim Bennett

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