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Horizontal Dial
circa 1600 ?; Nuremberg
Ivory and brass; 64 x 26 x 15 mm

The dial is in the form of a small lute with a hinged lid. The outside of the instrument was inlaid with glass (now broken), partially or completely gilt. Underneath the glass was a paper, now detached. The inside of the lid is decorated. The actual hour lines from 4 to 12 to 8 for the string gnomon dial (string missing) are carved on an ivory plate inside the lute itself. Three star symbols are carved on the bottom part of the ivory leaf, and there is a compass in the centre. The neck and the back of the lute are decorated with stars, geometrical decoration and foliage. At the top is a ring for suspension.

A nearly identical lute pendant is in the Museum of London, but that object does not have the features of a horizontal dial.

The instrument was purchased in 1858 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. 23, no.16.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1858, 6-16.1

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