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Inventory no. 42561 - Epact entry

Epact number: 35603

Horizontal Dial

Signed by Ulrich Schniep
Dated 1570; probably Munich
Gilt and silvered brass; 63 x 50 x 11 mm

Main text

As with other similar instruments by Ulrich Schniep, the outer faces of this sundial are devoted to decoration (see also Epact 81899). In this case, the cover carries an engraving of the god Mercury framed between two architectural columns.

Inside, there are two sundials, one a horizontal pin gnomon sundial and the other a horizontal string gnomon sundial. The latter provides the time in ordinary equal hours; the pin-gnomon dial gives the time in Italian hours and also indicates the length of the day and night throughout the year.

Source museum: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Museum number: Inventory no. 42,561

Detailed text

The instrument is in the form of a box with a friction-clasped lid. The outer faces are purely decorative: the outer face of the lid has an engraving of Mercury between two columns; the sides have foliage engraving; and the base carries strapwork and foliage.

The inner face of the cover carries a horizontal pin-gnomon dial marked for Italian hours XI to XXII. Lines numbered from 8 to 16 for 'QVANTITAS DIEI' and 16 to 8 for 'QVANTITAS NOCTI' indicate the length of the day or night between the 'TROPICVS CANCRI' and 'TROPICVS CAPRICORNI'. The pin is placed within a sun and the signature '* VS *' and date 1570 are placed above a cartouche with the inscription 'HORA ITALICE ET QVANTITA: DIEI DIEI [sic] ET NO'.

The main box contains a horizontal string-gnomon dial with a decorated folding gnomon support sprung to the vertical and incorporating a plummet. The silvered dial plate is numbered 5 to 12 to 7 and also has half hour lines. At the southern end is the latitude for which the instrument was to be used '* POLVS 46 GRAD ' and another signature '* VS *'. The inset compass is 20 mm in diameter; its bowl has a cross of direction labelled 'S', 'OR', 'M' and 'OC' and is marked for variation.

Provenance: Lewis Evans Collection G. 381.

Stephen Johnston

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