Jost Bürgi
Jost Bürgi was a celebrated clock and instrument maker. He was born on 28 February 1552 in Lichtensteig, a small town in the valley of Toggenburg in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. It is not known where he received his training but in 1579 he entered the service of the Landgrave Wilhelm IV of Hesse as clockmaker. For the latter's observatory in Cassel Bürgi made several splendid instruments including clocks, astrolabes, mechanical celestial globes, quadrants, sextants, armillary spheres, surveying instruments and models of the Copernican planetary system. He frequently assisted the Landgrave in his astronomical observations.

In the summer of 1592 he presented, as a gift from Wilhelm IV, a mechanical celestial globe and several mathematical instruments to the Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. After the death of Wilhelm IV in 1592, Bürgi remained in the service of his successor Maurice. After making several journeys to Prague at the request of the Emperor Rudolf II he received the prestigious position of Imperial Clockmaker in 1604 and with the permission of the Landgrave Maurice, he settled in Prague. Despite the many commissions he received from the Emperor, his salary was often in arrears - a situation that did not improve after the death of Rudolf II in 1612, when he was succeeded by his brother Matthias. From 1609 onwards, Jost Bürgi lived and worked alternately in Prague and Cassel; in 1631 he left Prague for good and returned to Cassel where he died on 31 January 1632.

For instruments by Jost Bürgi, see:
   Gunnery Instrument, Attributed to Jost Bürgi, German, Late 16th century (Firenze, IMSS)
   Triangulation Instrument, Signed by Jost Bürgi, German, circa 1600 (Oxford, MHS)


E. Zinner, Deutsche und Niederl?ndische astronomische Instrumente des 11. bis 18. Jahrhunderts (2nd ed., Munich, 1967), pp. 268-76; L. von Mackensen, H. von Bertele and J. H. Leopold, Die erste Sternwarte Europas mit ihren Instrumenten und Uhren: 400 Jahre Jost Bürgi in Kassel (3rd ed., Munich, 1988); J. H. Leopold, Astronomen Sterne Ger?te: Landgraf Wilhelm IV und seine sich selbst bewegenden Globen (Luzern, 1986).

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