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Astronomical Compendium
Signed by Tobias Klieber
Dated 1595; Augsburg
Gilt brass; 41 x 46 x 24 mm

The outside of the lid is engraved with a coat-of-arms, a shield charged with band between two flowers, on crest a full face helmet and two wings charged in a similar manner to the shield. The lid is hinged and is closed by two small catches on the sides.

The inner face of the hinged lid is engraved with a wind rose, with the names of the cardinal directions in Latin on the sides of the plate (the 'N' in 'SEPTENTRIO' is reversed). The names of the 16 directions in the wind rose are engraved in German, and in the space between them are engraved numbers from 1 to 16 starting from east. All the engraving is in red wax.

In the main box is a silver plate with a universal equinoctial dial, hinged opposite the outer leaf, engraved on one side with 'HORAE MATVTI:<NAE>' and 'HORAE POSTME<RIDIEM>' in red, and hour scale divided to the half hours, numbered 1 to 12 twice in black. A transversal cross piece kept the pin gnomon, which is now missing. The other side of the silver plate is engraved similarly, and is damaged on the top right corner.

Below the silver plate is a curved band for adjusting the latitude, engraved on the limb with an equal scale from [4] to 90, divided to ten, subdivided to two degrees, numbered by ten from 10 to 90. The other side of the curved band is inscribed 'QVADRAN:<S> ELEVAT{I}O POLI', with a scale of latitudes divided to ten, subdivided to two with dots, not numbered. All the engravings on the curved band are coloured in red.

The brass plate underneath is engraved with a wind rose with 32 directions, the pointers coloured in red, blue and green, and the main winds named 'OSTRO', 'LEBECH ? <IO>', 'PONENTE', 'MASTRO', 'TRAMONT', 'CRECO', 'LEVANTO', 'SIROCHO' coloured in red. In the corners, along the sides of the plate is engraved 'ORTVS HIBER', 'OCCAS HIB ?', 'OCC ? HIEM ?', 'ORTVS ESTII'. A circular aperture in the centre shows the compass underneath.

The compass, now detached, has magnetic deviation marked, and the cardinal directions engraved 'SE:', 'OR.', 'ME:', 'OCC:'.

On the other side of the box is a sliding gilt brass plate. On the inside of the plate is a nocturnal. The alidade is broken and the remaining part is engraved 'REGV{LAE NOCTIS}'. The silver revolving plate is engraved with the names of the cardinal directions 'SEPTEN{TRIO}', 'ORIENS', 'MERID{IES}', 'OCCIDE{NS}'. The letters are interspersed with star symbols for the intermediate directions. The hour scale is divided to the half-hour, numbered from 4 to 12 to 8. The index rotates on a zodiac scale, divided to ten degrees, subdivided to five, numbered by ten from ten to 30. The symbols of the zodiac signs are engraved on an inner circle. A handle for the nocturnal is fixed at the bottom of the plate. The spandrel spaces are decorated with simple foliage.

On the outer side of the plate is a pierced lunar volvelle with aspectarium. The volvelle is engraved with the hours 1 to 12 twice, and surrounded by a scale of hours, divided to the half-hours, numbered 1 to 12 twice. Around these hours are engraved the lunar days 1 to 29. In the spandrels is a simple foliage decoration.

Underneath the brass plate is a removable silver plate, inscribed with the signature 'THOBIAS KLIEBER AVGVSTV FACIEBAT AN:<NO> DOMINI 1595'. The borders of the plate are decorated with a simple line.

All the four sides of the main box are engraved with blowing cherubs.

The instrument was presented by A.W. Franks in 1867, and is described 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.123, no.356.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1867, 7-5.24

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