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Diptych Dial
Signed by Paul Reinmann
Dated 1599; Nuremberg
Ivory and brass; 113 x 65 x 14 mm

The stamped inscriptions on this ivory dial are filled with red and black colours. Two brass clasps allow the dial to be closed, one clasp attached to the opposite side holds the dial in the open position while being used. A pivoted arm on the front edge of the lower leaf covers a hole which presumably once contained a pin gnomon. The dial is decorated with geometrical patterns and stars.

The outer surface of the upper leaf consists of a lunar volvelle and a windrose. The lunar volvelle, for converting lunar into solar time, consists of a movable brass disc with an index and a 24 hour dial, numbered twice 1 to 12. The centre is decorated with a sun effigy. A circular aperture shows the phases of the moon on the underlying ivory, another aperture shows the age of the moon numbered 1 to 29. The pin gnomon is missing.

Surrounding the volvelle is a windrose with 32 directions marked in abbreviated German with full, half and quarter compass points, numbered by 1 and starting with east. North is additionally marked with a cross.

Outside the windrose are the ususal markings for the direction of sunrise and and for midday and midnight.


The inner surface of the upper leaf consists of a pin gnomon dial for unequal hours with zodiacal signs and corresponding hours of daylight and. Above and below is the inscription 'DIE SPICZ ZAIGT TAGLENG ZWELF ZACHEN VND PLANETEN STVNDT'.

Below is a string gnomon dial (string broken) numbered VI to XII to VI and divided to 1/2 and 1/4 hours. In the centre of the string gnomon dial is an equatorial pin gnomon dial (pin missing) on a gilt brass dial. The dial has a 24 hour scale, numbered anticlockwise twice 1 to 12, with a sun effigy in the centre.

The signature of the maker, 'PAVLUS REINMAN NORIMBERGAE FAC', is inscribed at the bottom.

The inner surface of the lower leaf consists of a horizontal string gnomon dial, numbered 4 to 12 to 8 and divided to 1/2 and 1/4 hours. In the centre is a compass with a two deviations: circa 7? E (partially erased) and circa 10? W. The right and left top corners are decorated with blowing faces.

Below this is a pin gnomon dial with Italian hours, numbered 9 to 23, and Babylonian hours, numbered 2 to 15. The pins of the pin gnomon dials on the inner surfaces of the upper and lower leaves fit into small holes on the opposite leaves. Below the pin is the date '1599' and the motto 'SOLI DEO GLORIA'.

On one side of the outer edge of the lower leaf is a brass latitude scale from 10? to 70?, numbered by 10 and divided to 2. A strut to set the dial to the appropriate latitude is missing.

On the opposite edge are epact tables for the Julian and Gregorian calendars, starting with the year 1599 as follows: 'EPACTA IVLIA ANO 14 25 6 17 28 9 20 1 12 23 4 15 26 7 18 29 11 22 3', for the Julian calendar and 'EPACTA GREGO ANO 4 15 26 7 18 29 10 21 2 13 24 5 16 27 8 19 1 12 23' for the Gregorian.

The outer surface of the lower leaf is inscribed with a latitude list of 40 European places in two columns as follows: 'MOSCOVIA 62', 'LIVONIA 60', 'LITVONIA 55', 'K?NIGSPERG 55', 'DANCZIG 54', 'LVBECK 54', 'CRACA 51', 'LEIPCZIG 51', 'PRAGA 50', 'ANTORF 50', 'COLONIA 50', 'COBOLENCZ 49', 'FRANCKFORT 49', 'NORIMBERG 49', 'AVGSPVRG 48', 'WIENNA 48', 'RENGSPVRG 48', 'PARIS 48', 'COSTNICZ 47', 'BASEL 47', 'MAILAND 45', 'VENETIA 45', 'LEON 45', 'GENVA 44', 'FERRARIA 44', 'VERONA 44', 'PATVA 44', 'FLORENCZ 43', 'MARSILIA 43', 'BONONIA 43', 'NEAPOLIS 42', 'ROMA 42', 'PORTVGAL 42', 'CONSTANTIN 42', 'LISABONA 40', 'TOLETVM 39', 'CORDVBA 39', 'GRANATVM 39', 'SICILIA 37', 'SARTINA 37'.

On the base is the maker's mark, a crown, stamped twice.

The instrument was purchased in 1862 and is described and illustrated in F. A. B. Ward, A Catalogue of European Scientific Instruments in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum (London 1981), p. 36, no. 80 (with plate XI).

Silke Ackermann

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1862,8-9.4

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