Astrolabe Catalogue

astrolabe, inventory number 35146 from Italy (?), ca. 1500
thumbnail for astrolabe (front), inventory number 35146 from Italy (?), ca. 1500
thumbnail for astrolabe (back), inventory number 35146 from Italy (?), ca. 1500
thumbnail for astrolabe (rete front), inventory number 35146 from Italy (?), ca. 1500
Dateca. 1500
PlaceItaly (?)
Inventory no.35146
AcquisitionPresented by Lewis Evans in 1924

There are two different styles of script on this astrolabe. The older is found on the tympans and the rete. It is a cruder script consisting entirely of square capitals, often created with a punch, and it uses older number shapes. The more recent script is found on the mater and the back and consists of both upper and lower case letters which have noticeable serifs. The lower-case 's' is like the long 's' typical of 16th-century printing (that is, it resembles an ‘f’). These letters appear to be formed with letter stamps.

It seems likely, based on their markedly different numbering and lettering styles, that the body of the instrument is of somewhat later construction than the tympans and the rete. The quality of craftsmanship is also different between the two parts, the latter reflecting a superior attention to detail and accuracy. The style of the rete is a form of the simple medieval Ysrc=+ype found in the 14th century. Finally, the latitudes for which the plates are engraved seems to reflect an earlier tradition. By the sixteenth century, it was less common to include latitudes as low as 33° and 36°.

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Throne, Ring and Shackle

The throne is of the three-lobed type made of brass attached with screwed base made of brass and has a simple, round cross-section ring made of brass and eye-bolt type shackle made of brass . More information


The mater and limb are of two pieces, soldered construction. Scales on the limb: degree scale; equal hours scale. More information


The back contains 6 scales of the following types: Degree; Zodiacal signs; Calendar; Unequal hours; Shadow square. More information

Rete, Pin & Wedge

The rete contains 16 stars. The zodiac on the rete is labelled: ARIES , TAVRVS , GEMMIN , CANCER , LEO , VIRGO , LIBRA , SCORPIO , SAGITTARIVS , CAPRICORNVS , AQVARIVS , PISCES.

The rete contains 2 scales of the following types: Equal hours; Ecliptic.
The rete is attached using a pin & wedge. Heavy pin with large head; small wedge, crudely made. More information


There are 4 plates with latitudes ranging from 33°0' to 54°0' . More information

Rules & Alidades

Type Details
PointerSingle-ended. May be later in date like the alidade.
AlidadeDouble-ended, counter-changed. This crude alidade might be a later replacement. Both sighting vanes have broken off.
More information


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