History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Italian sundials, quadrants and compendia

The only wooden instrument in the group [1] is by Miniato Pitti, an Olivetan monk in Florence. One side is a sundial, the other an horary quadrant, and there is a Latin quotation from Ovid around the rim which reflects on growing old with the silently passing years: 'there is no bridle to restrain the flying days.'

The other signed instrument from the 16th century [2] was made in Rome by Antonius Geminus, who is not otherwise known. On his brass instrument he has combined a nocturnal and an unusual type of altitude sundial (the side shown). The instrument can tell the time by day or night anywhere in the world.

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