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Polyhedral Dial
Signed by Stefano Buonsignori
Dated 1587; Florence
Wood; 195 mm in height

Regular dodecahedron mounted on a turned single stem baluster pillar stand and thus offering five reclining and declining dial faces, five inclining and declining faces and one horizontal. The horizontal surface contains a pin gnomon scaphe dial for Italian hours with a small compass set in the free space above the gnomon. The dial surface of the scaphe is painted gold with the lines and numerals in black above a red band inscribed in gold for the Tropic of Capricorn above gold foliate decoration on a black ground. The remaining spaces above and around the dial are filled with gold painted foliate decoration on a light blue ground. On the reclined face immediately below the scaphe dial (that is on the side away from the compass), the Medici arms surmounted by a Cardinal's hat and the motto 'Presidium et decus' are painted in gold, red and black, the hour lines and numerals being drawn in gold on a blue ground. The dials and decoration of the remaining surfaces are symmetrical around the two faces. That is, the upper pair of dials flanking the surface bearing the Medici arms are drawn in gold on a blue ground with gold foliation on a red ground and the tropic of Cancer named in a white banderol. The lower two faces flanking the armorial surface are entirely executed in gold on a blue ground except for the tropic marked in black in a white scroll and the signature scroll of black with gold lettering. The maker's initials and the date are however marked only in the left of the two dials. The remaining dials on the opposite side of the instrument are similarly symmetrical, the pair immediately below the horizontal scaphe dial being reclining scaphe dials, the rims of the scaphe carrying the mottoes (left) 'Hora diees mentiq{ue} simul ptervolat annus non hic sed furtum et vera petendaq{u}es' and 'Tempus abit volat hora fugax sic labitur aetas vt rapida serui annis ag' (right).

Anthony J. Turner

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 2456

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