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Diptych Dial
Signed by Paul Reinmann
Dated 1587; Nuremberg
Ivory and brass; 105 x 85 x 15 mm

The stamped inscriptions on this ivory dial are filled with red and black colours. Two brass clasps (one missing) allow the dial to be closed, two clasps attached to the opposite side hold the dial in the open position while being used. A pivoted arm on the side edge of the lower leaf covers a cavity which probably contained a now missing pin gnomon.

The dial is decorated with geometrical patterns which contain lunar crescents, stars and sun effigies.

The outer surface of the upper leaf is engraved as a windrose with 32 directions given in German, north is additionally marked with a cross. Outside the dial, the directions of the rising and the setting of the sun as well as midday and midnight are indicated .

In the centre of the windrose is a gilt brass lunar volvelle with an index. The age of the moon is marked on the ivory and can be seen through an aperture in the disc which also contains a circular cut-out for the lunar phases. The disc has a 24 hour scale numbered twice clockwise 1 to 12. The pin gnomon for the equatorial dial is missing.

The inner surface of the upper leaf is laid out as a vertical pin gnomon dial and a vertical string gnomon dial (string missing).

The pin gnomon dial shows Babylonian hours, numbered 1 to 10, and the lines of the zodiacal signs with their symbols. The string gnomon dial is numbered 7 to 12 to 5.

In the centre is a brass disc for an equatorial pin gnomon dial (pin missing) with a 24 hour scale, numbered twice 1 to 12 and divided to 1/2 and 1/4 hours. The dial is now wrongly set.

On the right hand side is a latitude scale from 5? to 60? marked 'POLVS HEHE' which allows the equatorial dials on the upper leaf to be set to the appropriate latitude.

The signature of the maker 'PAVLUS REINMAN NORIMBERG FACIEBAT' is engraved at the bottom on the face of the string gnomon dial.

The inner surface of the lower leaf has a horizontal string gnomon dial, numbered 4 to 12 to 8 and divided to 1/2 and 1/4 hours, and for Italian hours through the year in 9 circles numbered (from the outside) 8 (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 respectively) to 24. There is no indication to which month which circle refers.

Outside the dial are the cardinal directions marked in Latin with eat and west as 'ORTVS' and 'OCCASVS'. A compass well with a deviation of circa 9? E is empty except for the maker's mark, a crown, stamped twice.

At the base of the dial is the inscription 'der faden zaygt die gancz und halb uhr' and the date '1587'.

The outer surface of the lower leaf contains a nocturnal with the cursor missing. It consists of a gilt brass volvelle with an long index and 23 small projecting pins. The volvelle has a 24 hour scale numbered clockwise twice 1 to 12, divided to 1/2 and 1/4 hours. The centre bears a foliate design.

A cutout in the brass disc shows a calendar on the ivory marked clockwise with the names of the months in Latin, each month is numbered 10 to 30 (28 and 31 respectively) and divided to 2 days. The zodiacal signs are marked with their symbols; the equinoxes corresponding to March 11 and September 12.

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

The instrument was purchased in 1854 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), pp. 35, no. 79.

Silke Ackermann

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1854,12-11.1

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