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Instrument type

circa 1300; French
Brass; 158 mm in radius

The instrument is an example of the quadrans vetus or old quadrant. On one side of the instrument is a shadow square marked [0] to 12, divided to 1 and numbered by 4. Superimposed on the shadow square are unequal hour lines marked 1 to 6 and (with a mirror script) 7 to 12. A sliding curved plate, only half of which remains, is engraved with the names and days of the months and the names of the zodiacal signs. The limb of the plate is engraved with a scale of degrees from [0] to 90? divided to 1?, numbered by 5?. On this side of the quadrant is also a plumb bob with a little pearl as a bead.

The other side of the quadrant has a lunar volvelle, part of which is missing. On the volvelle are engraved the days of the lunar month, 1 to [29.5] numbered 1 to 29. On the quadrant are engraved in two circles a calendar scale with the months divided in 30 or 31 days as appropriate, with the 10th, 20th and last day numbered, then a zodiac scale with signs divided in the same way numbered from 10 to 30 by 10. All the inscriptions are in Gothic lettering. The lunar volvelle has a decoration of an eight-leaf flower in the centre.

The quadrant has a ring for suspension.

Ilaria Meliconi

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Inventory number 52020

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