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Astronomical Ring Dial
Signed by Antoine de Succa
Dated 1600; Antwerp
Gilt brass; 158 mm in diameter

This equinoctial sundial is made in the form of an instrument known as the astronomical ring dials, a portable astronomical measuring instrument designed by Gemma Frisius. Here it has been modified so as only to tell the time, but it would not have been easy to manipulate. A further modification by the English mathematician William Oughtred turned the design into one of the most popular forms of portable dials in the 17th and 18th centuries.

An inscription records that the dial was made for Albert and Isabella (daughter of Philip II), joint rulers of the Spanish Netherlands. Among the decorative engraving on this finely-made instrument is a symbolic pair of burning hearts.

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Inventory number 50526

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