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Equinoctial Dial
Signed by Cornelius van den Eedt
Dated 1586; Flemish
Gilt brass; 51 mm in diameter

The upper hinged ring of this brass universal equinoctial dial has a rotating outer ring engraved with a scale engraved with a scale of Italian hours numbered 1 to 24 by one, subdivided to the quarter hour. The fixed inner circle is engraved with a similar scale of common hours, numbered 1 to 12 twice. Further to the centre is a round hole which houses the pin gnomon, kept in place by a cross piece.

The inside of the hinged ring is engraved '[star] [star] CIRCVLUS [star] AEQVINOCTIALIS [star] VT [star] MONSTRAT [star] HORAS [star] GERMANIAE [star] ET [star] ITALIAE [star] [star]'. Further to the centre is a scale of common hours numbered 1 to 12 twice.

The box has a compass in the centre, with the names of the winds in Italian engraved on the plate around it, and 32 compass points indicated by pointers, coloured alternatively with red and black enamel. North is indicated with a fleur-de-lis. The names of the eight main directions are engraved in English around the edge, alternating with star punches.

The bottom of the compass box is engraved with 22 cities and their latitudes, 'GENEVA 43', 'FRANCFORT 50', 'DANZICK 55', 'COMPOSTEL 44', 'BASEL 47', 'BRVSSELE 51', 'AVSBVRCH 48', 'AMSTERDAM 52', 'ANTVERPIA 51', 'WITENBERG 52', 'VIENNA 48', 'VENETIAE 45', 'STRASBVRG 48', 'SAVOYA 43', 'ROMA 42', 'PARISIA 48', 'PRAGA 50', 'PORTVGAEL 41', 'NIERNBERG 49', 'MAILLANT 45', 'LONDEN 52', 'HAMBVRG 55'. Around the centre of the compass box is inscribed 'GRADE [star] ELEVATIO [star] POLI [star] [star]'. Another [star] symbol is on an inner circle.

On the rim of the compass box is the signature '[star] HOC OPVS FECIT CORNELVS VANDEN EEDT ANNO 1586 [star]'.

The instrument belonged to the Spitzer Collection and was purchased in 1893. It 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. 47, no.121.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1893, 6-16.10

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