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Polyhedral Dial
Attributed to Hans Felt
circa 1550; Nuremberg
Gilt brass; 59 x 10 mm

This dial is in the form of an eight-point star with a fixed suspension ring, which, with the aid of a hinged strut and a latitude scale, can be set up with the plane of the star parallel to the equator.

On the external part of the lid the star pointers are decorated with foliage and the centre of the star bears the signature 'H F' with an acorn. Zinner suggests that 'H F' may stand for the Nuremberg maker Hans Felt. The inside of the lid has an unequal scale of latitudes from 30 to 55, numbered by five and divided to one, inscribed 'ELVFACI POLI'. The rest of the plate is decorated with foliage. The lid can be kept open with the aid of a folding strut hinged in the box.

The box contains a small pivoted compass (needle, ring and glass missing) which is now detached. The external part of the box is the dial indicating common hours from 1 to 12 on the different sides, respectively: 5 to 7, 1 to 3, 2 to 4, 11 to 1, 11 to 1, 8 to 10, 8 to 10, 5 to 7, 5 to 7, 2 to 4, 2 to 4, 11 to 1, 11 to 1, 8 to 10 (on this face an error has been corrected by the maker), 9 to 11, 5 to 7. They are all divided to the half-hour. The bottom of the box is decorated with foliage and the compass cover is engraved with a helmed head.

The instrument was presented by A.W. Franks, Esq., in 1857 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. 31, no. 62.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1857, 8-4.35

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