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Astronomical Compendium
Late 16th century; German
Gilt brass or copper; 89 x 89 x 18 mm

The outer side of the upper leaf has a volvelle for converting unequal hours, numbered from 1 to 12, and common hours, engraved on the outside of the circle 1 to 12 twice, divided to the quarter hour with alternate shading. Unequal hours have the indications 'DIEIS', 'NOCTIS', 'ORIENS', 'OCCIDENS' and a sun effigy is engraved in the centre. On top of it is fixed an eccentric rotating silver zodiac ring, with a scale of degrees on the limb, divided by ten, divided by two, numbered from ten to 30 by ten. The symbols of the zodiacal signs are engraved on the inner part of the ring. The equator and meridian are decorated with broken lines. On top of the silver ring is fixed a rotating brass arm, decorated with foliage. The spandrel spaces on the leaf are decorated with strapwork and foliage. A small catch keeps the leaf closed when not in use.

The inside of the leaf has a silver rotating pierced volvelle for converting solar and lunar times. The volvelle is engraved with a sun effigy in the centre, the inscription 'DIES AETATIS LUNAE', a rectangular aperture showing the lunar days from 1 to 29, and common hours from 1 to 12 twice. Surrounding the silver volvelle are engraved common hours, divided to the quarter hour by alternate shading, numbered 1 to 12 twice. Around the hours are engraved the names of the eight main directions and the weather associated with them: 'OST SCHON', 'SVD OST HALBSCHON', 'SVD GEWILCK', 'SVDWEST REGEN', 'WEST TRIB', 'NORT WEST SCHON SCHAVR', 'NORT SCHON KALT', 'NORT OST SCHON KALT'. In the spandrel spaces are four blowing cherubs.

Inside the main box is a silver universal equinoctial dial, with hours engraved from 1 to 12 twice, divided to the half-hour by alternate shading. The dial is attached to a decorated base, and the border is decorated with a wavy line. The other side of the dial is marked I to XII twice, divided to the half-hour by alternate shading, and marked for latitudes 45?, 48? and 51?. The gnomon is missing.

Below the dial is a silver plate with a compass, marked inside 'SEPT', 'ORIE', 'MERI', 'OCCI' and around the compass box with 'SEPTENDRIONE', 'ORIENS', 'MERIDIES', 'OCCIDENS'. The surrounding ring is engraved with foliage, then with a red wax ring. Around this is another hour ring engraved 1 to 12 twice, divided to the half-hour by alternate shading. The spandrel space is decorated with strapwork and foliage.

The back of the silver plate is engraved with a circular table of latitudes, with seven rings. They are inscribed, from the outermost, 'COSTNITZ 47', 'INGELSTADT 48', 'BRAVNSCHWEIG 52', 'NORTHAVSEN 52', 'LVTZELBVRG 50', 'MEIDENBVRG 52', 'SALTZBVRG 47'. The second ring is engraved 'STRAVBING 48', 'SCHAFHAVSEN 47', 'PORTVGAL 42', 'LISIBONA 39', 'BARSOLONA 39', 'BRESSLAV 51', 'BRVSSEL 51'. The third ring is 'TRENT 45', 'DANCZIG 54', 'LIBECK 54', 'MAILANT 45', 'ROMA 42', 'NEAPOLIS 42', 'FLORENTZ 43'. The fourth ring is 'STRASBVRG 49', 'FRANCKFORT 50', 'NORENBERG 49', 'AVGSPVRG 48', 'HERTZBVRG 52', 'FREIBVRG 50', WITTENBERG 52'. The fifth ring is 'BREMEN 54', 'KOBLENTZ 50', 'PASSAV 48', 'KEMPTEN 47', 'DRESSEN 51', 'STVCKART 49', 'MINGEN 48'. The sixth ring is 'ELFORT 51', 'MECHELN 51', 'ANTORF 51', 'VENEDIG 45', 'PARIS 48', 'LOVEN 51', 'BERLIN 53'. The seventh and innermost ring is 'HALL 52', 'GRIM 51', 'ZIRCH 47', 'WIEN 48', 'SPEIR 49', 'PRAG 50', 'COLN 51'. The back of the compass box is engraved with a helmed head.

The inside of the lower leaf is engraved with a planetary table indicating the ruling planet for the 24 hours of each day of the week, headed 'HORAE PLANETARVM DIEIS' and 'HORAE PLANETARVM NOCTIS', where the names of the weekdays are 'SONDAG', 'MAENDAG', 'DINSDAG', 'MITWOCH', 'DONERDAG', 'FREIDAG', 'SAMSDAG'.

The outside of this leaf is engraved with an horary quadrant. On the limb is a scale of degrees, divided to ten, subdivided to five, further divided to two with alternate shading, numbered from right to left by five. Common hour lines are engraved from 4 to 12 to 8 on the right hand side. On the left-hand side is a zodiac scale, with the zodiac signs divided by ten degrees by alternate shading, numbered from 10 to 30. The zodiacal symbols are engraved, and the names of the signs are given in German on two lines: 'STEINPOCK', 'WASSERMAN', 'FISCH', 'WIDER' 'STIER', 'ZWILLI', and 'KREWS', 'LEO', 'IVNGFRA{V}', 'WAG', 'SCORPIO', 'SVTZ'. Near the apex of the quadrant is a shadow square divided to one by alternate shading, numbered from 4 to 12 by four. The inside of the shadow square is engraved with strapwork and foliage and the two borders are engraved 'VMBRA VERSA' and 'VMBRA RECTA'.

The left side of this leaf has two sights. All the edges of the two leaves are decorated with wavy line. A catch keeps the leaf closed when not in use.

There is a ring for suspension and the plumb bob appears to be a later restoration.

The instrument was bequeathed by Octavius Morgan in 1888 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. 122, no. 352.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1888, 12-1.295

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